Berlin homes to be heated with energy from wind power

June 1, 2017

Swedish utility company Vattenfall is investing almost 100 million euros ($112 million) to build a power-to-heat facility in the German capital.

Vattenfall says the 120-megawatt thermal energy facility in Berlin's western district of Spandau aims to use to provide heating to thousands of homes in the city of 3.5 million.

Berlin has long used a system known as district heating to pump water heated in coal and gas-fired power plants directly into households.

Germany is expanding the use of as part of its effort to drastically reduce over the coming decades.

The country already generates a large amount of electricity from wind power plants in the north of the country, some of which will now be used to heat Berlin homes.

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Eikka
5 / 5 (1) Jun 02, 2017
It's going to be expensive heat, as wind power costs the Germans 10-12 cents per kWh in subsidies under the current regime, for many many years to come as the old subsidized contracts are still running for the life of the turbines.

Normally these district heating systems run on coal, which costs just 1-2 cents a kWh in central and eastern Europe.

Only now there are some companies bidding for off-shore turbines in Germany, for zero subsidies, but they have until 2021 to pull out of the promises if the prices don't develop in their favor. The other winning bids are for 6 cents a kWh feed-in tariffs, which is still many times more expensive than the fossil fuels used for heating.

Only, the price is paid by other people. The district heating plant gets near-free electricity because they can capture the already paid wind power that won't sell otherwise, which is why their customers can afford it. The situation is an artifact created by poor policy, and won't last for long.
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Jun 02, 2017
It's going to be expensive heat, as wind power costs the Germans 10-12 cents per kWh in subsidies under the current regime

So? This is part of the investment in the changeover. It's not like there's going to be a sudden 'jump' in energy prices (the actual contract between Berlin and vattenfall stipulates that energy prices should remain stable)

which is still many times more expensive than the fossil fuels used for heating.

Are you counting costs due to climate change? How much would that be when we add the cost for moving a city like Hamburg? You have a very narrow (read: unrealistic) view of what the word 'cost' means.
Eikka
not rated yet Jun 05, 2017
So? This is part of the investment in the changeover. It's not like there's going to be a sudden 'jump' in energy prices (the actual contract between Berlin and vattenfall stipulates that energy prices should remain stable)


That's easy because they're buying already subsidized energy. It's "cheap" because it's paid for by all rate payers who contribute to the surcharges.

The point is that wind power without subsidies is 5-6 times more expensive than the fossil fuels it replaces, so without this sort of wealth redistribution scheme the customers' heating bills will increase dramatically and people will switch back to gas or oil.

The subsidy cannot last forever, so it's not a changeover investment but a temporary money grab that makes profit over government subsidies while they're still available. One they run dry, and the purchasing price of wind electricity goes up to reflect the real price of the power, the facility will shut down.
Eikka
not rated yet Jun 05, 2017
Are you counting costs due to climate change?


That's entirely besides the point.

Consider that this heating facility is buying electricity from the grid. It would be technically more efficient for their customers to use direct electric heating instead, but their difficulty is negotiating wholesale prices with the power suppliers.

The district heating plant has the capability to buy zero-to-negative priced electricity off the grid with wind/solar power surplus that exists because of the existing energy subsidies, which is not possible for the individual customers. That is their business case.

Once the zero-rate power is gone, because the subsidies are gone, the business case for the heating plant is gone. It's uncompetetive, and will dissapear or retrofit back to fossil fuels because the buyers will choose something else.

The only thing that will change the situation is if the government forces people to buy more expensive heat - good luck in the elections.
Da Schneib
not rated yet Jun 05, 2017
@Eikka, the costs for the renewables are mostly up-front, whereas with fossil fuels they go on and on. The subsidy for the renewables then becomes for the equipment, not the power.

Maybe you forgot.

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