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Project for a Rhine-Ruhr district heating network takes shape

The planned link-up of the district heating networks in the Rhine and Ruhr regions should deliver an efficient, innovative and environmentally friendly heat supply, and security of supply for the Ruhr area. The project reached a key milestone on 5 March 2015, when representatives of the participating district heating firms – STEAG Fernwärme GmbH (SFW), Energieversorgung Oberhausen AG (evo) and Fernwärmeversorgung Niederrhein GmbH (FN) – signed the contract for the formation of the new company. The joint venture is called Fernwärmeschiene Rhein-Ruhr GmbH. The contract for the flagship project was signed by the companies’ managing directors and board members: Udo Wichert, chairman of the executive board at SFW, Markus Manderfeld, managing director of SFW, Dr Thomas Götz, managing director of FN, Bernd Homberg, technical director and Hartmut Gieske, commercial director at evo.

Udo Wichert had this to say: “The project team and our partners from Dinslaken and Oberhausen have done sterling work over the past few months. I am delighted that we have founded the joint venture and can now work together on making this forward-looking project a reality.” Bernd Homberg, technical director at evo, believes the new network will bring many advantages: “There are four solid reasons why this project is a good idea: security of supply, price stability, climate protection, and responsibility for the future. As well as providing an alternative to night storage heaters, oil and natural gas, district heating will also keep prices more stable for our customers.” Dr Thomas Götz, managing director at FN, stressed the local nature of the project: “Linking up the networks will allow us to incorporate low-cost, local industrial and renewable generation systems.”

Shareholders in the new company are SFW (56.6 %), FN (25.1 %) and evo (18.3 %). The purpose of the joint venture is to plan, set up and operate the Rhine-Ruhr district heating network. Four separate subprojects are scheduled to create the link between the Lower Rhine and Ruhr district heating networks. It will be possible to incorporate additional industrial and renewable heat sources into the supply system. These will include waste-fuelled heat and power plants, gas and coal-fired power plants, industrial plants and their waste heat, and heat from renewable combined heat and power (CHP) plants. This will give all the project partners access to large amounts of carbon-free waste heat and large volumes of CHP energy. Fernwärmeschiene Rhein-Ruhr will therefore make a significant contribution to the carbon and CHP goals of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia.

The idea is for the connection to run from the existing section in southern Bottrop to the Lower Rhine district heating network in northern Duisburg. The precise route is still being worked out. It should mainly run across land that is under public or industrial ownership. If everything goes according to plan and the partners in the joint venture reach a positive decision on construction by the first quarter of 2017, the first subprojects could go into operation after a two-year construction period. The Lower Rhine and Ruhr district heating networks could therefore be joined up as early as 2019. When that happens, industrial waste heat, CHP, and heat from renewable energies and waste-to-energy plants will give the region from Moers to Herne a low-carbon heat supply that is drawn exclusively from local sources and is secure for the long term. (Fernwärmeschiene Rhein-Ruhr GmbH/Si)