Together with city organisations and infrastructure companies, the federal state of Berlin has developed a model for how to transform itself into a smart city of the future. In such cities, energy is generated, distributed, stored and consumed in a more flexible manner.
Areas such as heat, electricity and traffic are looked at from a more comprehensive perspective, and organised by means of an intelligent, inter-sector approach. An important goal in such cities is to achieve the best possible energy solution for every quarter, for every building.
Berlin is growing and is a city that offers great scope for sustainable, communal urban development. Find out more about Vattenfall’s sustainable city projects.
Urban development as a communal project
Transforming the heat supply market needs to take place on a local level. Heat derived from energy-efficient cogeneration plays an important role in cities like Berlin.
less CO2 emissions
By expanding its district heating networks and further decentralising the supply of energy, we at Vattenfall are bringing more and more efficiently-generated heat to homes, businesses and industries.
We are also looking to halve our CO2 emissions in Berlin by 2020 and aim to do this by modernising our Berlin thermal power plants to make them more efficient, flexible and capable of processing lower-emission fuels.
By 2030, we aim to have replaced coal with gas and be using more regionally-produced biomass (wood chips). The existing cogeneration plants will be increasingly combined with power-to-heat systems and fitted with heat accumulators. We will also be using more waste heat for district heating purposes.
Together with five local infrastructure companies - BSR, BVG, BWB, GASAG and Veolia - Vattenfall founded the co-working project InfraLab Berlin at the EUREF campus in Berlin-Schöneberg. Here, companies want to collaborate with creative minds and start-ups to develop ideas of how to optimise life in the growing city. They want Berlin to assume a pioneering role in this respect and, through the development, testing and application of innovative technologies and services, turn it into Smart City Berlin. This cooperative partnership goes way beyond the boundaries of the respective companies’ core business areas.
In the growing city of Berlin, four districts are developing dynamically in this respect. Vattenfall supports this development by jointly compiling individual site and supply concepts together with local partners. One example of where this has been done is Berlin-Schöneweide.
Business and science working in unison to transform the energy market!
The wind and sun from the north-east of Germany can generate a great deal of energy
The problem with green energy, however, is that it’s difficult to plan. Successfully transforming the energy market will therefore depend on continually and efficiently adjusting energy generation according to energy consumption. This in turn will require intelligent networking between all system participants via an ‘internet of energy’, and real-time (or near real-time) communication.
WindNODE – a project funded by the German Federal Government - wants to use multiple-model projects to show how energy generation and energy consumption can be synchronised. WindNODE project partners Vattenfall Wärme Berlin and Stromnetz BerlinGmbH are both implementing their own projects in this respect.
Other project participants include utility companies, grid operators, high-tech specialists, numerous universities and research institutes from the region, automotive sector, waste disposal, housing, and retail companies.
Using industrial waste heat for climate-neutral district heating in Berlin
In cities, in particular, process and waste heat from waste recycling or the water system harbours great potential as a low-emission source of heat. Vattenfall wants to further capitalise on this potential. In Berlin, for example, it effectively turns this waste heat into district heating. At the Vattenfall power station in Spandau, waste heat derived from waste recycling has been used for a number of years.
Another pioneering project is Vattenfall’s partnership with the porcelain company Königliche Porzellan-Manufaktur. Located in Berlin’s Tiergarten district, the company by its nature needs to work with extremely hot temperatures. The waste heat emitted through its porcelain manufacturing processes is not simply released into the atmosphere unused. Rather, it is transformed into hot water and fed directly into the district heating network. Vattenfall is examining further prospective partnerships with Berlin-based industrial undertakings with a view to using their waste heat to supplement the district heating system and, as such, enhance the city’s climate friendliness.
Today, 90 per cent of Berlin’s district heating is produced through climate-friendly cogeneration.
Cogeneration, also known as combined heat and power (CHP), is a process by which electricity and heat are generated simultaneously. Here, the heat created through electricity generation is not simply released into the atmosphere unused, but rather stored and distributed to homes, businesses and industries.
compared to separate generation
This combined generation means that around 90 per cent of the fuel energy can be exploited, leading to fuel savings of up to 30 per cent compared with single generation procedures. Cogeneration is therefore a more resource-friendly and climate-friendly means of producing power. CHP is used in district heating and cooling, as well as in the decentralised supply of power.
Vattenfall Wärme Berlin is set to build a new power station in Berlin-Lichterfelde. This natural gas-powered station will generate electricity through its combination of a gas turbine and steam turbine, and capture heat using a downstream waste heat boiler. Also comprising three new hot water generators, the Lichterfelde location will supply around 100,000 homes in west Berlin with environmentally-friendly district heating.
Vattenfall will also be basing its new Berlin-Marzahn power station on a highly efficient gas /steam turbine system fired by natural gas. Together with the plants at the Klingenberg location, Vattenfall’s Berlin-Marzahn power station will supply around 300,000 homes in eastern Berlin with district heating.
Rethinking the way we heat for a more sustainable future: power-to-heat and heat accumulators
Power-to-heat and heat accumulators are set to increasingly supplement district heat produced by cogeneration plants. This will lead to more and more renewable energy being incorporated into the urban heat supply. Much like large immersion heaters, power-to-heat systems transform waste electricity from regenerative energy production into heat – for example when demand for electricity is low or when a great deal of power needs to be generated. Combining heat generation with heat accumulators means that heat can be used independently (at a later date) from when it was generated.
households should be supplied with district heating by 2020
Among the pioneers of this new technology in Berlin are the district heating plant in Neukölln and the thermal power plant in Buch. At both locations, power-to-heat technology is being used in combination with heat accumulators. for more sustainable, more flexibly usable heat. At the location in Reuter West, plans are in place to replace a hard coal block with a 100-megawatt power-to-heat plant by 2020. This plant will have the capacity to supply 30,000 households with district heating in winter.
An intelligent energy system for the home
Vattenfall is carrying out a pilot project on home energy management in Berlin and Hamburg. In collaboration with the Korean electronics corporation LG, it aims to enable people to access consumption data relating to their own home-based power generation and storage systems.
The focus of the project is on developing an intelligent system that enables users to use self-generated electricity from photovoltaic systems. Via an app, owners of photovoltaic systems will be able to monitor their own generation and consumption. They will also be informed about the best times to store, sell and use their electricity.
Cool connection: a central cooling plant for Potsdamer Platz
Since 1997, Vattenfall Wärme Berlin has operated a central cooling plant for Berlin’s new city centre. Running all the way around Potsdamer Platz, the plant was previously operated by Vattenfall’s predecessor Bewag. Here, 15 cooling machines with a total performance of 50 megawatts and a refrigeration network extending for 14 kilometres ensure that the buildings at Potsdamer Platz and Leipziger Platz remain pleasantly cool for those inside, even on the hottest of summer days. Berlin’s biggest refrigerator emits 9,000 tonnes of CO2 less per year than would be emitted if the buildings were cooled using individual air conditioning systems.
The central cooling plant works on the basis of two separate procedures. In the absorption chillers, district heat from the nearby thermal power station HKW Mitte is transformed into cold. Compression refrigeration machines use electricity produced by regenerative means to electrically generate cold.
The central cooling system is developed in harmony with the district. Today, it supplies around one million square metres of space – including 12,000 offices and over 1,000 apartments - with cool air. Among its recipients are the Sony Center, the Federal Ministry for the Environment and the Berlin House of Representatives.
Most apartments in Buch are heated with district heating.
The Berlin-Buch thermal power station has had a modern cogeneration plant since 2005. In 2014, a new gas turbine with a downstream waste heat boiler was launched. The Buch thermal power station also uses waste heat emitted by the Schwanebeck landfill through its activities to convert landfill gas into electricity. This waste heat is then conducted along a 3-kilometre pipe to cover 20 per cent of the Buch heating network’s heating demand. The 25 km long local heating network supplies the Helios clinics, about 10,000 apartments and 50 companies on the Campus Buch.
These measures led to the thermal power station achieving a certified primary energy factor of 0.45.
In 2007 and 2016, decommissioned oil tanks were repurposed for use as heat accumulators, with the aim of optimising heat generation and flexible electricity generation. Both heat accumulators were designed to serve as hybrid accumulators, which means they are able to be integrated into any future cooling networks. In 2017, a power-to-heat plant with a capacity of 5 MW and a 4,000 m³ hybrid heat accumulator were commissioned. These allow excess electricity from renewable energies, e.g. from wind turbines in Brandenburg, to be incorporated into the local heat supply. These measures led to the thermal power station achieving a certified primary energy factor of 0.47.
Berlin’s Buch district has set itself the objective of becoming climate-neutral.
Central to this development work is the Berlin-Buch campus - a growing science, health and biotechnology park that is home to various companies as well as basic and clinical research organisations. In the long term, 2,500 new apartments are set to be built in the Buch region.
To bring everybody involved in the project together, a workshop was arranged by the district and the Berlin Senate. The workshop was attended by the Berlin-Buch Campus, the Ludwig-Hoffmann-Quartier, HOWOGE, as well as numerous other local stakeholders. During the workshops, participants worked intensively on four topics; renewable energy and energy efficiency, heating and cooling networks, the requirements for new-build projects, and mobility.
Power-to-heat and heat accumulators will sooner or later supplement district heating generation within combined heat and power generation, and increasingly make renewable energies part of urban heating supply. Power-to-heat systems convert excess electricity from renewable sources into heat. This means that the quantity of electricity generated by wind and photovoltaic systems in periods of low demand for electricity or of high production output is not reduced but converted into heat and fed into the district heating system. This is a climate-neutral way of generating heat.
In Buch, there is a power-to-heat system with an output of 5 MW and a heat accumulator of 4,000 m³ that acts as a hybrid store for the district.
The Buch power station makes use of waste heat from the Schwanebeck landfill. Because the amount of gas generated by the landfill is set to decline over the coming years, the option of replacing it with a solar thermal plant at the landfill was discussed. A heat pump to further exploit waste heat potential at the Buch thermal power station could also serve to increase energy efficiency.
Vattenfall has been working within the electromobility industry since 2008
Working together with automobile manufacturers BMW, Daimler and Volvo, Vattenfall has been heavily involved in research and development projects with a focus on charging technology. Here, it has developed new charging solutions and implemented them on pilot basis with selected clients.
In Sweden, the Netherlands and Germany, Vattenfall offers comprehensive charging infrastructure solutions.
These include electricity supply contracts for 100 per cent certified renewable energy, intelligent charging concepts, public charging solutions for cities and regions, and customer-specific charging technology solutions for use in the home, at businesses and in partially public places like supermarkets.
In Berlin, Vattenfall has been operating a network of public charging stations that use green electricity only. Via an e-mobility website or the charging app, customers can locate four quick-charging stations. These can then be used via the app or a charging card.
cars within the next 5 years
In the interests of climate protection, Vattenfall is successively converting its fuel-powered fleet into an electric fleet. Within the next five years, more than 3,500 cars and light utility vehicles are set to be replaced by electric alternatives. This is an important step towards achieving the company goal of total CO2 neutrality by 2050.
It’s all so green around here – more urban garden areas for Berlin
Communal gardening is becoming increasingly popular in the city, and, in view of the growing population density, increasingly important in maintaining quality of life in inner-city areas. Working communally is central to the concept of urban gardening. By encouraging neighbours to engage in watering, planting, hoeing and the like, it brings together people from all sorts of different backgrounds. This is why Vattenfall is setting up communal garden areas on disused commercial premises in Berlin, where everyone is welcome to join in the planting and harvesting.
Our first urban gardening initiative, “Pflanz was!” (Plant something!) resulted in the creation of a garden in Neue Grünstraße in Berlin’s Mitte district. Once home to a substation, the 500 m2 grounds are now filled with over 50 raised-bed flower and vegetable gardens. Our second communal garden is located at the Heizkraftwerk Mitte power plant, and is regularly used as a location for workshops on sowing and other gardening trends. Further gardens are in the pipeline.
In the 1960s, Berlin’s Märkisches Viertel was a flagship urban planning project. Today, it once again has flagship status; this time as a model for the energy-efficient transformation of a city.
Today, as in the 1960s, the power station at Wallenroder Straße plays an important role. It has undergone a few conversions in its time; the first being from a coal-fired heating station to a gas and oil-fired station. Most recently, it has been converted into a biomass-fired thermal power station. Since 2014, Vattenfall’s first Berlin-based biomass power station has been generating environmentally-friendly energy based on sustainably-derived wood chips. It supplies around 30,000 apartments, businesses and public institutions with district heating and hot water.
Gunther Müller, CEO at Vattenfall Wärme Berlin:
“In the not-too-distant future, we will be able to generate up to 40 per cent of our district heating needs through biomass."
The introduction of biomass has opened a new and innovative chapter at the Berlin-Moabit power station, too. In 2013, the power station was modified for the co-incineration of non-treated biomass (wood chips). “In the not-too-distant future, we will be able to generate up to 40 per cent of our district heating needs through biomass,” explains Gunther Müller, CEO at Vattenfall Wärme Berlin “Of special note here is the origin of the biomass. The firewood originates from areas within a 150-kilometre radius of Berlin, and comes either from our own plantations or from suppliers who undergo vetting to ensure their adherence to specific social and ecological standards. As such, Vattenfall in Berlin has entered into a voluntary commitment regarding biomass.
The heating revolution is taking place in people’s cellars and roofs
The experts at Vattenfall Energy Solutions supplement district heating with decentralised energy solutions. Their portfolio includes numerous cogeneration units – some of which are combined with gas boilers, solar and solar thermal systems, heat pumps or wood pellet plants – all of which are tailored to the technical needs and requirements of our clients.
Cogeneration units generate warm water, electricity and heat by means of combining heat and power. They also tend to include back-up boilers that ensure a reliable supply of hot water. The electricity generated by cogeneration units is usually fed into the local grid, but increasingly, it is being used directly by tenants of buildings in the local area.
Boasting a 90 per cent efficiency factor, cogeneration units meet the high-efficiency criterion as per the German Renewable Energy Sources Act [Erneuerbare-Energien-Gesetz, EEG]. Installing them in new multiple-occupancy dwellings is therefore especially worthwhile, as such constructions are subject to stringent energy-saving regulations. To further improve their climate footprint, cogeneration units can be fired by biomethane or operated by power-to-heat modules, photovoltaic technology or solar thermal systems. Additional boilers make the units more flexible.
A recent example of a highly efficient, decentralised hot water system can be found in Berlin’s Prenzlauer Berg district. On the grounds of what was formerly the Puhlmannscher Hof in Kastanienallee is a new building complex comprising residential, office and retail space. The complex is heated by a local heat network supplied by a cogeneration unit which connects its five buildings. The system has a particularly low primary energy factor, thanks to the use of biomethane.
A heating revolution pioneer
Neukölln’s district heating plant is among the first plants to generate heat based on the ideal combination of cogeneration and renewable energy. It supplies around 40,000 households, businesses and public institutions in Neukölln and Kreuzberg with district heating, which it generates from on a power-to-heat plant and a heat accumulator.
cubic meters of hot water for a delayed use
The power-to-heat plant has an electrical and thermal capacity of 10 megawatts each. Combined with the heat accumulator, it not only incorporates regenerative electricity into district heating, but also, by providing a power reserve, contributes to electricity grid stability. The site is home to Berlin’s largest heat accumulator, which can store heat energy in the form of 10,000 cubic metres of hot water. This is enough to supply 3,250 households with 24 hours of heating on a cold winter day.
A quarter reinvents itself
Schöneweide, in the district of Treptow-Köpenick – formerly a major industrial site – is now one of Berlin’s up-and coming residential areas and a great example of how to effectively reinvent and develop a city quarter. Together with the Technische Universität Berlin, regional management and many local people and organisations, Vattenfall Wärme Berlin developed a plan for the quarter’s sustainable development. The aim of the plan was to implement an integrative infrastructure concept involving as many people and organisations as possible, with a view to promoting the quarter’s strong, sustainable development.
To effectively implement the heating revolution in the quarter, all parties need to engage in an intensive exchange to learn from one another. Incorporating multiple different perspectives is what turns a housing development into a neighbourhood of the future; a neighbourhood built on the basis of urban planning, social and ecological frameworks. This is how more sustainable versions of communal living come to fruition and such versions are highly appealing to many people.