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INTERVIEW: Hamburg Institut, Grexel to pilot integrated district heating, cooling GOs


Project to design system for DHC GOs

Research extends to biomethane, synthetic gases, hydrogen

  • Author
  • Patricia Pinter    Vittoria Morini
  • Editor
  • Manish Parashar
  • Commodity
  • Electric Power Energy Transition Natural Gas

The Hamburg Institut Research and Grexel Systems Ltd. have embarked on a pilot project to set up an integrated guarantees of origin system for heating and cooling as well as for biomethane, synthetic gases and hydrogen from renewable energy sources, project managers Laura Malinen and Alexandra Purkus told S&P Global Platts.

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The pilot comes as the EU's RED II renewable energy policy measures expanded green certification to forms of energy other than electricity.

Malinen, project manager at Grexel, and Purkus, project manager at the HIR, said after RED II, several EU member states started looking at implementing heating and cooling GOs. The project would aim to generate practical experiences that can prove useful for further developments of heating and cooling GOs in Europe, and boost investments into the renewable energy sector.

"Building on experiences from the certified green electricity market, the purpose of the heating and cooling GO scheme is to enable producers and energy suppliers to market green district heating and cooling (DHC) as a specific product. This can facilitate the refinancing of new projects, thereby adding incentives to increase the share of renewable energy sources and waste heat and cold in DHC grids," Purkus said.

Malinen added: "In Germany, the registry will be a pilot project. In the EU, only the Netherlands and Flanders have heating and cooling GO registries in operation so far. To our knowledge, this pilot registry will be the first research project to comprehensively analyze design options and implement experiences for heating and cooling GOs."

Project challenges

Although the concept of GOs can be extended to any renewable energy source, there are complexities when defining GOs for gases, heating and cooling energy. From a technical perspective, the newness of the registry system is the key challenge in implementing heating and cooling GOs, according to Malinen.

"Experiences from electricity GO systems cannot be transferred 1:1, because the economic, legal and political framework conditions in DHC markets are different. For instance, DHC markets are very local in nature, making discussions about fundamental aspects of GO system necessary, such as whether it should be possible to use GOs from non-interconnected grids for disclosing the property of DHC supply. The aim is to develop a reliable, practical attribute tracking system with a high credibility for consumers," Purkus said.

When asked how the findings of the project would benefit the development of overall GOs system, Purkus said, "in the short-term, the pilot will expand the practical experience base for heating and cooling GO systems and the underlying research will push more structured discussions about the system design. In the longer-term, experiences could feed into the development of new marketing models for green DHC."

"Additionally, building functional processes for the handling of heating and cooling GOs while including the stakeholders in the process can help make the new product more accessible and interesting for the broader market, which of course helps broaden the GO system and accelerates the green transition," Malinen added.

They said the main stakeholders would be DHC suppliers, consumers -- private households, building owner associations and industry consumers -- and public administration like regional and national ministries, agencies which might potentially implement a national registry in future.

Successful cooperation

Purkus said the cooperation with Grexel was an opportunity not only to assess system design options on a theoretical level, but also to directly translate theoretical findings into a practical product that can be tested in a real-life context.

The pilot registry is implemented as part of the research project Reallabor IW3: Integrierte WärmeWende Wilhelmsburg, and led by the municipal energy supplier Hamburg Energie.

"This fits very well with the idea of the "Reallabor" projects, which assess industrial-scale of forward-looking energy technologies in real-life conditions. Besides testing innovative technologies like deep geothermal heat production combined with aquifer heat storage in interaction with other renewable energy sources, this project examines the contribution of novel trade and marketing mechanisms towards the decarbonization of DHC systems. It will be exciting to explore how heating and cooling GOs and green heating and cooling marketing can contribute to the energy transition," she said.

The pilot is one of the winners of the Regulatory Sandboxes for the Energy Transition competition funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy.