Where’s the best place to talk about wood energy and renewable heat?
The 19th International Conference on Wood Energy, in Würzburg (Germany) - the central conference on wood energy for Germany, Austria and Switzerland, of course! On the 26th of September our ENTRAIN partners HEF and Solites organized a session on district heating: “Combination of solar thermal energy and biomass for district heating”. To set the frame for the afternoon, Harald Thorwarth (HEF) gave a short introduction to the topic. He pointed out that despite significant societal demand for improved climate protection and growing percentage of renewables in the electricity sector, development of renewable heat in Germany is stagnant. It is urgent to take action also in the heating sector which amounts to 50% of final energy consumption.
Thomas Pauschinger (Solites) presented frameworks and successful examples for cost efficient and climate-friendly district heating solutions relying on large-scale solar thermal energy. Two examples from the village of Mengsberg (Hesse, Germany) and Moosach (Bavaria, Germany) demonstrated feasibility and benefits of district heating grids powered by solar thermal and wood energy. In Mengsberg, an energy cooperative provides 150 houses with renewable heat. During summertime, the solar thermal collectors can cover 100% of the heat demand, so the wood boilers do not have to be operated in inefficient partial-load, saving costs and reducing emissions.
In Austria, wood energy is a traditional and widely used source of energy. Jakob Binder from our partner AEE Intec described benefits of integrating solar thermal energy into existing grids based on bioenergy. For example, the efficiency of the whole system can be improved by reducing grid temperatures and including a storage unit to balance solar peaks during summer and performance peaks of the wood boiler during winter. Around 30 participants were involved in a lively discussion, concluding that both from an economic and technological perspective, the combination of solar thermal energy and biomass generates synergies. Instead of creating a competition between renewable energy sources, the industry has to unite to offer solutions replacing the established fossil alternatives.