©Veolia-Marek Kruszewski

In Germany, waste is turned into heat and electricity

Posted on 14 March 2017.

In Germany, a whole district in the city of Braunschweig has its heating and lighting powered by renewable energy – and it’s all thanks to Veolia’s cogeneration plant!

It all began with the renovation of the police station in the Gliesmarode neighborhood. The work included replacing the old highly polluting oil and coal-fired heating plant. Braunschweig seized on the opportunity to develop a complete heating and electricity network for the neighborhood powered by renewable energy.

The project was entrusted to BS|ENERGY, a Veolia subsidiary in Germany. The plant - nicknamed "Hungerkamp" - was commissioned in 2013, replacing 34 coal, gas and oil burners. The complex consists of four parts: a cogeneration plant, a wood boiler, a natural gas boiler and heat storage.

The cogeneration plant runs at full capacity throughout the year simultaneously producing electricity and heat. It is fed by methane, which is processed biogas, extracted from organic waste (especially plants) from the city’s activities. As the waste decomposes, methane, is released and used to fuel a generator that produces green electricity.

The heat generated when producing the electricity - exhaust gases, water used to cool the motor - is recovered. Heat accumulators store the emerging heat and release it when needed. In conventional plants, this inherent heat goes to waste. Hungerkamp, on the contrary, uses it to provide heating for the inhabitants of Gliesmarode.

The wood-fired boiler is only in operation between October and March. Using wood chips, it acts as a back-up to provide enough heating on cold winter days. BS|ENERGY has made sure to minimize its environmental impact: the wood used is local residual wood, the combustion gases generated are filtered and purified, and the wood ash is used as fertilizer.

The gas-fired boiler is only used as a last resort to help the plant meet demand, or when one of the other two installations is under maintenance.

©Veolia-Marek Kruszewski

In total, Hungerkamp annually supplies 9,200 MWh of electricity for about 1.000 households and 15,600 MWh of heat to more than 2,000 households in the Gliesmarode district. This renewable energy production avoids the emission of 8,000 tons of CO2 per year. In 2015, the plant received the "Global District Energy Climate Award" from Europe’s Euroheat & Power for its innovative and environmentally friendly concept. It’s a model that could certainly be used to develop new initiatives for a successful energy transition in Europe.

Find out more:

- The town of Pécs in Hungary is heated with straw!