Industrial Heat – A Climate Alliance of Aurubis and enercity

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A pioneering solution for heating cities

Heating a neighbourhood with waste industrial heat

A modern district in Hamburg is home to Germany’s largest industrial heat project that is leading the way in greening how we heat our homes and businesses. In HafenCity East, heat produced by the local copper industry that was once wasted is now warming private and public buildings with nearly carbon emission-free heat. The scheme saves 20,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year – the equivalent to the annual emissions of 10,000 cars driving 12,000 kilometres. Adding to this, 12 million cubic metres are saved in cooling water for the industry – the volume of 4,800 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

At the Aurubis copper plant, heat is extracted from a chemical sub-process of copper production and used to heat water to 90°C. It is then transported via a 1-kilometre pipeline to the plant’s premises. A 2.7-kilometre pipeline then connects the plant, which is located on the Peute island in the middle of the river Elbe, with HafenCity East. Here, the heat is fed into the EU-funded enercity heating grid, which warms the energy efficient buildings.

“Our project provides planet-friendly heating that hugely reduces the carbon emissions from HafenCity East. In addition, it significantly reduces warming of the local river. It represents an essential and replicable way forward in the sustainable energy transition,” said Ulf Gehrckens, Senior Vice President Corporate Energy and Climate Affairs at Aurubis.

Bringing potential carbon emissions savings

According to the German Energy Agency, re-using industrial heat – like this innovative project is demonstrating – could avoid the production of 125 terawatt-hours per year of heat made using fossil fuels throughout Germany. That would save 37 million tonnes in CO2 emissions and €5 billion in energy costs each year.

“All cities need to cut their carbon emissions and, as we are showing, there is a lot of potential for industrial heat in achieving these reductions. Being a EUSEW Award nominee gives us great recognition and demonstrates to other companies across Europe that they can follow our example,” said Gehrckens.

Reusing heat from chemical reactions

To put the carbon-free heating network in place, extensive changes to the existing plant were required. Starting in 2017, major works began, which included some reconstructions and some installations. A heat pipeline to HafenCity East was constructed, which started delivering heat in the autumn of 2018 and can provide 500 million kilowatt-hours per year. This represents enough heat potential to power a copper production plant, while saving up to 140,000 tonnes of CO2 a year.