Smart Heat Grid Hamburg

In the scope of the project Smart Heat Grid Hamburg intelligent concepts for each level of district heating systems (dhs) will be developed. The effectiveness is analyzed by extensive field tests in the district heating system in Hamburg-Wilhelmsburg.

In the course of the changes of the German electrical “Energiewende” higher fluctuations have a big impact on the heat sector. By the use of flexible combined heat and power (chp) units or heat pumps in combination with heat storages, variations in the electrical sector can be compensated. In addition, a higher share of renewable heat generation is needed.

For an optimal integration of flexible chp systems and renewable heat generators in district heating systems, the development and trial implementation of an intelligent district heating system will be done by the project consortium. The consortium consists of Hamburg University of Applied Sciences, Hamburg Energie GmbH and eNeG Gesellschaft für wirtschaftlichen Energieeinsatz.

Based on the results of the preliminary project “Smart Power Hamburg“ (SPH), the increase of the share of renewable energies (heat and electricity) and efficiency by an intelligent district heating infrastructure is analyzed.

Motivation of Smart Heat Grid Hamburg

In the scope of the German „Energiewende”, the German government decided to increase the share of renewable energies of the electrical generation to at least 80 %. In addition, the heat consumption of primary energy should be reduced by 80 %. Another measure is to raise the amount of chp-generation. The increasing share of renewable electrical energies leads to a higher fluctuation on the generation side. Derived from this development, following challenges arise for the heat sector:

  1. Renewable electricity generation with a high grade of fluctuation can be compensated by intersectional coupling to the inert heat sector. 
  2. A more flexible operation of chp-plants for balancing volatile electrical generation can only be achieved by making the heat demand more flexible. A higher share of chp can only be achieved by expansion and compaction of district heating systems.
  3. In addition, the integration of renewable heat generation (e.g. solar thermal, deep geothermal) has to be done. To design a complementary system, intelligent plant coordination is necessary.

All of these measures result in a higher grade of fluctuation of heat generation. For a flexible operation in future energy systems, it is necessary to divide consumption from generation. District heating systems (DHS) are used as a passive element in the energy transportation chain. But, DHS have a high potential for efficiency and flexibility measures by the heat transfer stations and the demand side. 

The experiences of the preliminary project “Smart Power Hamburg” show that measurements in the whole grid infrastructure in real time are not sufficient for an efficient and flexible operation. Rather, intelligent concepts for an optimal grid operation are needed. To that, it is important to coordinate all involved plants.

The basic concept for a Smart Heat Grid is similar to that of electric "Smart Grids": By making use of modern communication technologies to connect all actors and processes of the district heating system, a highly efficient and flexible system with a higher share of renewable energies can be provided. The needed infrastructure (plant technology, hydraulics and information technology) will be explored by this project.

Work objectives

Expansion of the existing simulation environment with Smart Heat Grid (SHG)-components
The expansion of the existing simulation environment has several effects: On one hand it provides a platform for the development and testing of algorithms. On the other hand it can be used as a planning tool for development and implementation of constructive concepts. In addition, a link between the simulation and the control system will enable an actual usage in operation.

Concepts and Field Trials of a Smart-Heat-Infrastructure 
Fields of application will be analysed for several renewable and  current-fed generators. In the course of this the entire network infrastructure will be used to increase efficiency and flexibility. One possibility for reaching flexibility is an active integration of the secondary side (thermal load).

Designing Concepts of Measurement and Control Technologies
The main target of measurement and control concepts is to develop cost-effective components and standardized interfaces, such as a new "smart-heat-grid-ready" standard.

Designing Concepts of Operation
Within the project operating concepts will be developed that will enable a competitive producer market under ecological conditions. In addition to the generator coordination the secondary side is also to be integrated, so as to provide more flexibility by e.g. thermal load management. Already during the plant planning it has to be monitored that the heat grid is not overstressed and, if necessary, an adjustment of the existing plants (redispatch) is carried out. Primary objective of all operating concepts is to optimize the overall operation.

Designing Concepts of Operations Monitoring
Concepts of Operations Monitoring ensure in real-time that all planned SHG processes run as planned. Therefore the state has to be detected and key figures for a live-evaluation of the system need to be formed. A central monitoring will detect errors by aggregating data (operations analytics). In addition to the real-time evaluation, historical data are also archived and viewed. Concept will be designed on how automatic optimization measures can be derived from real-time data and historical data. Defects and manipulations will also  be tracked and reported.

Designing Concepts of System Integration
In order to implement the concepts mentioned above, overlapping interests with external shareholders or other third parties should be identified. On the one hand, these are interests connected to consumers of thermal energy. Therefore, concepts offering incentives for efficient and flexible thermal consumption (or in some cases production) have to be developed. On the other hand, the legal and economic framework has to be considered. Additionally and in a final step, all generated results and methods should be generalized and as a result become transferable to other DHC systems.

HAW Hamburg / project management


040 428 75 5810


Person of contact HAMBURG ENERGIE


040 33 44 10 60121


Person of contact eNeG


040 547 767 82



Project Partners