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District heating in Hafencity Hamburg

Sustainable and profitable district heating in exciting new city development.
1 April 2020

HafenCity is a whole new city quarter being built in the heart of Hamburg, Germany. It is currently Europe’s largest inner-city development project, setting new standards for city development.

Superlative city development

In Germany, approximately 14 per cent of all households are connected to district heating systems. The city of Hamburg stands out as a front runner in district heating. The city has a vast district heating network supplying 19 per cent of all households. Politicians in charge have declared that the district heating infrastructure will continue to be expanded.

Their goal is to connect 50,000 additional households to the district heating network by year 2020. With HafenCity, a whole new city quarter has been created in the heart of Hamburg. It covers 155 hectares of harbour area with a mix of apartments, offices, recreational facilities, retail trade and culture. City planners have chosen the most sustainable and economically advantageous long-term solution for heat supply: All buildings are supplied with district heating.

The aim has been to develop an energy supply concept that fulfils the strictest economic and environmental requirements. In essence, the concept is based on the combination of the existing, well-proven Hamburg district heating system with decentralised, local heating distribution units. The fuel used is mainly coal, along with household and industrial waste, natural gas, and very small quantities of light fuel oil.

To further reduce carbon dioxide emissions, the existing HafenCity heating plan is equipped as a pilot plant with a steam turbine and a fuel cell. In addition, two new combined heat and power plants are planned in the Überseequartier and at the cruise ship terminal. Buildings, which are mainly for residential use, will be equipped with thermal solar panels for the central domestic hot water supply.

HafenCity setting new standards for sustainable city development

The combination of heat and power ensures that surplus heat from the power plant is used to heat buildings in the HafenCity area instead of being wasted. This way, 90 per cent of the primary energy can be utilised – a concept which could easily be expanded to other residential areas and cities. Compared to a conventional fossil heat supply, approximately EUR 3.7 million in fuel costs and 14,000 tons of CO2 are saved every year.

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