28.03.23 | Updated on: 26.07.2023

Large-scale heat pumps are being added to five power plant sites in a living lab for the energy transition. In Stuttgart-Münster, operators are switching to low-emission energy sources and integrating a 24-megawatt large-scale heat pump into their energy system. Progress is being made at other sites as well.

In the future, a large-scale heat pump will make an important contribution to reducing CO2 emissions at the Stuttgart-Münster site. This will feed climate-friendly heat into the local district heating network. The entire project is part of the living lab for the energy transition focused on the installation, operation, monitoring, and system integration of large-scale heat pumps (LHPs) in district heating networks, which is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Action.

CO2 savings of around 15,000 metric tons are possible

The large-scale heat pump in Stuttgart-Münster uses waste heat from the cooling water discharge of the residual waste cogeneration plant to generate up to 24 megawatts of district heating. Certified green electricity from waste incineration powers it, saving around 15,000 metric tons of CO₂ annually. This increases the proportion of climate-neutral district heating in the Stuttgart region by around 10 percent, meaning that a total of a quarter of district heating comes from renewable sources.   The heat pump thus makes an important contribution to decarbonizing the region. The new plant is scheduled to go into operation this year.

Power plant operations must continue during new construction

In the future, the large heat pump will also ensure that the heat input into the Neckar River is reduced and that the energy contained in the cooling water can be used to generate climate-neutral district heating. A particular challenge for the project is to integrate the new large-scale heat pump into the existing facilities of the power plant, which has been in operation for a very long time, while maintaining operations at the site. The new equipment will be integrated into the existing infrastructure and buildings.

Starting signal for more climate friendliness

Among other things, the operator EnBW wants to halve CO2 emissions at the Stuttgart-Münster power plant site by 2030 and become climate-neutral by 2035. In addition to the large-scale heat pump, a new gas turbine plant for the generation of electricity and heat is to contribute to this, initially using natural gas. The power plant's new turbines are designed so that they can also burn "green" gases such as hydrogen from renewable energies.

A groundbreaking ceremony has now taken place on site to mark the start of this "fuel switch". In addition to the keynote speakers (see photo) Dr. Georg Stamatelopoulos (Director of Sustainable Generation Infrastructure EnBW Energie Baden-Württemberg AG), Thekla Walker MdL (Minister for the Environment, Climate and Energy Management of the State of Baden-Württemberg) and Dr. Frank Nopper (Mayor of the City of Stuttgart), around 90 other guests from business, science and politics were present.

Mannheim: River heat pump soon in use

At the four other locations of the living lab for the energy transition in Mannheim (MVV Energie AG), Rosenheim (Stadtwerke Rosenheim) as well as Berlin-Neukölln (Fernheizwerk Neukölln) and Berlin-Köpenick (Vattenfall Wärme Berlin), the respective power plant operators and energy suppliers are also building their plants close to existing heat generator locations.

Just recently, the first river heat pump was delivered on several trucks from the Swedish production site to the large power plant in Mannheim. "We are delighted that just under a year after the official groundbreaking ceremony, the first MVV flow heat pump has now arrived at its site of operation. The plant is scheduled to go into operation for the 2023 heating season and further increase the share of climate-friendly energies in our district heating generation, which currently amounts to up to 30 percent," said Felix Hack, MVV project manager. In the meantime, a concrete and steel building with an insulated sheet metal facade has been constructed for the heat pump. The heat pump module, the power supply and the plant's control technology will be installed in it. (Further information can be found here)

At the Rosenheim site, two large heat pumps have already been integrated into the processes of its combined heat and power plant. As a result, the energy supplier saved CO2 for the first time in 2022. Among other things, it benefited from close collaboration with scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE and the University of Stuttgart. As at the other sites, the teams are testing on site how the large heat pumps can be efficiently integrated into the existing structure and how their operation can be optimized. In addition to technical findings, the experts want to determine how regulatory and economic framework conditions need to be adapted, to better establish large-scale heat pumps in the district heating market.

Other Living Labs for the Energy Transition in Germany

In general, innovative technologies are tested in practical applications under real conditions and on an industrial scale in the living labs funded by the German Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Action. Experts can then use the experience gained in the projects to decisively advance the far-reaching transformation of the energy system in Germany toward climate neutrality.


EnBW Energy Baden-Württemberg AG


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