Wastewater heat utilisation: Ground-breaking ceremony for Bavarian pilot project

Under the presence of Bavarian Minister for the environment Dr. Markus Söder, a ground-breaking ceremony took place at Straubing, Bavaria in May for an innovative treatment system with a future orientation that demonstrates that wastewater is not an end product but a valuable resource.

In the presence of Dr. Markus Söder, Bavarian Minister for the environment and health (fifth from left), the ground was broken for an innovative project to be implemented in Germany as the first of its kind.

HUBER ThermWin® process

Markus Pannermayr, mayor of the city of Straubing, put it aptly in his statement: Sustainability has become a catchword. Guest and experts from politics and the fields of wastewater and energy management gathered at Straubing on 17 May 2010 on the occasion of the official ground-breaking ceremony for a project that is intended to ensure heat and warm water supply for approx. 100 flats. The fact that Dr. Markus Söder, Bavarian Minister for the environment and health, was present suggested that this was not a conventional heating plant. It is a wastewater heat utilisation project, an innovative method with a future orientation.

In connection with the restoration of four buildings undertaken by the municipal building society also the existing heating system was examined. They came to the conclusion that there was enormous potential for improvement through the use of a floor heating and state-of-the-art insulation and installation of a low temperature heating plant. The energy required is supplied by heat pumps. The ‘magic formula’ of this heating plant is however the utilisation of wastewater heat rendered possible by the HUBER ThermWin® system. More than 210 kW energy is extracted from the wastewater of the nearby sewer. This energy is used to heat more than 7,000 m² living space in combination with heat pumps and additionally ensures hot water supply. Significant savings on fossil fuels are the direct benefit.

Markus Pannermayr, mayor of the city of Straubing, welcomed the guests and pointed out in his speech the city’s courage to invest into innovative projects. Groundbreaking technologies would need courage, he said. But as courage alone was not enough to do it, Markus Pannermayr thanked Dr. Söder for the financial support provided by the State of Bavaria. The supraregional publication of the project, particularly by the Bavarian Umweltcluster, will increase the degree of popularity of the city of Straubing.

Dr. Söder focused in his speech on the climate change. It would be the responsibility of all environmental industries to stop the climate development with new technologies and minimise CO2 emission, he said. He therefore believes the money given by the government has been well invested. He further pointed out the city of Straubing as a city of the future that will establish a reference for other future projects. Dr. Söder concluded his speech with the statement that wastewater is not an end product but rather a valuable resource, the potential of which has been too much neglected by now.

Prof. Dr. Martin Faulstich, managing director of Wissenschaftszentrum Straubing (Straubing science centre), opened his speech with a highly topical issue. The oil film spreading in the Gulf of Mexico is one of ever riskier undertakings to exploit even the last oil reserves on our planet. This fact and the limited capacity of our atmosphere to take up CO2 make it necessary to uncouple our power and heat supply from these greenhouse gas emissions. In order to be successful in achieving the all-party goal of 80% CO2 emission reduction by 2050, especially innovations like the Straubing project are of enormous importance. A pilot project with the aim to heat 100 flats would have a symbolic aspect and hopefully lead to many follow-up projects. Prof. Dr. Faulstich, who is also chairman of the German expert advisory board for environmental questions, finally asked to consider that up to 4% of the energy demand in Germany could be covered by utilising wastewater heat.

Dr.-Ing. E.h. Hans G. Huber as speaker of Umweltcluster Bayern and supervisory board chairman of HUBER SE officially announced that the project has been appointed a lighthouse project by Umweltcluster Bayern. After his explanation of some technical project details Dr. Huber, who is also the winner of the German Environmental Award 2006, thanked all parties involved for their contribution so far and expressed his wish for a successful development of the project.

A light lunch rang in the ceremony-closing discussion round that raised many new possibilities. Maybe we have even been able to get the ball rolling for another project of wastewater heat utilisation. Who knows?