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Decarbonizing district heating systems

The research project DEKADE-F-Wärme ("Decarbonizing district heating systems through electricity and heat sector coupling and integration of renewable energy sources - Sub-project: Unit commitment of district heating systems and electricity market modeling") aims to assess strategies for the decarbonization of the district heating sector in Germany and to quantify their impact on the electricity market. The potential to reduce the CO2 emissions in the German district heating sector is evaluated.

In this context, mathematical models for unit commitment in district heating networks and of the German electricity market are being further developed at the Chair. In cooperation with the Chair of Sustainable Energy and Environmental Technology at the University of Applied Sciences and Art Hildesheim/Holzminden/Göttingen (HAWK) and the industry partners Grosskraftwerk Mannheim AG, MVV Energie AG, Vattenfall Wärme Berlin AG and AGFW, the possibilities and constraints of the integration of high shares of renewable energies in the district heating systems are evaluated from both technical and economic perspectives. The findings are implemented in the mathematical optimization models. Both electricity and district heating market models are coupled in order to consider their independencies. Expansion scenarios, such as the development of heat demand and the increasing share of renewable energy, are developed and investigated with the optimization models. As a result, various cost- and CO2-efficient configurations of the German district heating sector and their effects on the German electricity sector and power plant fleet will be evaluated. Tangible recommendations for investment will be provided to the district heating system operators and areas for political action will be identified.

The work is included in the international Annex IEA DHC Annex TS3 „Hybrid Energy Networks“.

The DEKADE-F-Wärme research project is funded by the Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy as part of the 6th Energy Research Programme.

Within the project we receive support from the student assistants Till Greger, Marie Pfafferott and Justyna Plotka.


Project duration: 11/2018 until 10/2021
Grant reference number: 03ET4071A



Elisa Papadis

Sebastian Triebs

Hannes Cramer

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