As part of a comprehensive decarbonisation strategy, the Wuppertal public utility company (WSW) has pushed ahead with the conversion of the district heating supply in recent years and opened a new chapter for the energy supply of an entire region with the closure of the coal-fired combined heat and power plant in Elberfeld on 7 July 2018. After almost 120 years of industrial history, coal-fired power generation ends in Wuppertal.
The district heating previously generated at the Elberfeld combined heat and power plant will be replaced by the conversion of the district heating network and its connection to the municipal waste-to-energy plant of AWG Abfallwirtschaftsgesellschaft Wuppertal mbH (AWG). To make this possible, WSW has built a new 3.2 kilometre district heating pipeline in record time over the past two years. Due to the special geographical features, the new construction of the district heating pipeline through difficult terrain took place, so that almost 200 height meters had to be overcome. In addition, AWG installed an additional back-pressure turbine and several new steam conversion stations at the waste-to-energy plant. The renewal of the pipeline architecture for the district heating system and the modernised technical equipment at the waste-to-energy plant will not only keep the overall system low in CO2 emissions in the future, but will also support the long-term profitability of the business area.
"The conversion of the district heating network, which began in 2016, is Wuppertal's most important project in the city's history in terms of climate policy," says Andreas Feicht, CEO of WSW Energie & Wasser AG.
On the occasion of the project's implementation ceremony, Federal Environment Minister Svenja Schulze (SPD) emphasised the exemplary character of this project in her welcome address.
According to current calculations, the closure of the Elberfeld combined heat and power plant and the conversion of the district heating supply in the Wuppertal region will lead to an annual reduction in CO2 emissions of 450,000 tonnes.
Pinsent Masons' energy law team, led by Dr. Sönke Gödeke and Dr. Thorsten Volz, advised on all energy, corporate, contract and regulatory issues during the implementation of the project. Due to the technical complexity of the project and the various companies involved, it was also necessary time and again to call in specialists from other legal areas, so that a broadly based team of consultants across all legal areas was required.