Decentralized small local heating network in a historical city centre connecting public and private buildings using green cuttings to reach efficiency goals.
Often historical buildings have low potential for energetic retrofitting or it is very expensive (inside isolation due to preservation orders). To increase efficiency in the heat supply a decentralized local heating network with regional RES and highly efficient CHP was established. One reason for a local heating system with a central heating plant was that it is more expansive to convert the heating from oil to RES in every single building. A more efficient filter system was used, which wouldn’t have been used due to the high costs for individual installations. In the Birkenfeld historical centre a lot of public buildings are located in direct vicinity making it technically and economically feasible. 19 public (town hall, district administration, museum) and 11 private owned buildings are connected to the network. The aim is to have a share of regional green cuttings on the fuel input that is as high as possible. Birkenfeld not only becomes largely independent of fossil fuels from foreign sources, regional value creation in the heat sector is also fostered.
Since the public buildings that were to be connected are owned by different public authorities (municipality, district, federal state) a joint company was set up. An ESCO has the chairmanship of the technical and commercial management. Most of the shares are hold by the collective municipality and the district of Birkenfeld. The ESCO has a general contractor agreement for the construction and operation of the network.

Resources needed

Total costs were EUR 3 million. Financed by a long-term low-interest loan including a redemption grant and a EUR 1.3 million grant (special fund of Rhineland-Palatinate).
The pipes were laid at the same time the main road was reconstructed anyways to use synergies and lower construction costs.

Evidence of success

Before the implementation the municipality had annual fuel costs of about EUR 140,000 per building that were supposed to be connected to the heating network. 30 buildings are connected to the local heating network. Eleven are private owned and also financed the heating network.
The grant made it highly economically feasible. From the beginning a reduction of heating costs by 10% compared to the conventional fossil heating system was possible.
CO2-Emissions were reduced by 65% (512 t a year)

Potential for learning or transfer

- Alternative technical solution to increase efficiency potential if insulation measures are neither technically nor economically feasible for reasons of monument protection

- Installing a heating network in an existing context, making it cost effective by using synergies with road reconstruction work

- Founding a joint operating company by district and municipal association to work together and use synergies. Buildings of both institutional levels save energy.

- Involving 11 private actors, connected to the system

- Using local raw and residual material and create a local value-added chain in the heating sector

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Main institution
collective municipality of Birkenfeld
Rheinhessen-Pfalz, Germany (Deutschland)
Start Date
March 2015
End Date
February 2016


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