26 Mar 2024

Munich, Germany Aims for CO2-Neutral Heating by 2040, Primarily With Geothermal

26 Mar 2024  by thinkgeoenergy   

Rendering of planned geothermal plant at Michaelibad, Munich (source: SWM)

Munich city utility Stadtwerke München (SWM) has laid out a plan for the heating transition in Munich, Germany that aims to establish CO2-neutral heating by 2040 at the latest, ahead of the 2045 target set by the federal government. With much of this capacity to come from geothermal, SWM is undertaking the expansion of heating networks, new geothermal projects, and additional drilling.

The transformation plan for the decarbonization of Munich was presented by SWM to the Munich Climate Council. While SWM already produces over 90% of the power requirement of Munich as green electricity, there is still plenty of work needed for the decarbonization of the city’s heating.

“We are consistently continuing our commitment to a climate-neutral energy supply and are now presenting our transformation plan for the further decarbonization of Munich’s district heating supply,” says Dr. Florian Bieberbach, Chairman of the Management Board of SWM. “With an investment volume of around 9.5 billion euros, SWM is taking a leading role in the heating transition for Munich.”

Geothermal to lead the heating transition

SWM has also already achieved a lot in district heating. For decades, they have been driving forward the expansion of the district heating networks in Munich and the region. SWM has supplied customer with district heating, most of which comes from combined heat and power facilities.

“In order to generate district heating in an even more climate-friendly way, SWM has been relying on geothermal energy for 20 years and is continuing to massively expand it. The aim is to cover the urban demand for district heating in a CO2-neutral manner by 2040 at the latest, primarily based on deep geothermal energy,” says Dr. Karin Thelen, SWM Managing Director for Regional Energy Transition.

According to the current legal situation, it can be assumed that heating with natural gas will no longer be allowed from 2045. SWM is thus preparing for this transition, increasing geothermal heating capacity while incorporating other sources such as biomass cogeneration and thermal waste treatment. The conversion of natural gas-fired thermal power and heating plants to green hydrogen is also being considered.

Forecasted shares of various energy sources for Munich’s district heating generation from 2025 to 2045 (source: SWM)

SWM had previously already announced plans of building the largest inner-city geothermal energy plant in continental Europe on the Michaelibad site. According to previous announcements, concrete work on the drilling site and heating station at Michaelibad is to begin in 2024. Drilling is expected to begin in early 2025. Another geothermal project is being planned on the site of the former Virginia Depot, north of Munich.

SWM also aims to develop geothermal projects in the wider Munch region through municipal cooperation with partners, such as the cooperation with local geothermal company Erdwärme Grünwald (EWG). Additional drilling is also planned in the existing geothermal sites of SWM.

“According to the current status, a total of ten geothermal energy projects with more than 50 new deep drillings are planned. The geothermal system portfolio is supplemented by large heat pumps, if possible directly at the location of the geothermal system, which can extract additional heat from the return flow and use it for district heating,” added Dr. Thelen.

Expansion of heating networks and heating options

SWM currently already operates one of the largest district heating networks in Germany with a total length of around 1000 kilometers. This network will still need to be intensively expanded and densified to implement the transformation plan. The network is expected to grow by a further 600 kilometers by 2040.

SWM has provided an interactive map that shows where existing district heating networks will be expanded, or where new heating networks are being considered. This gives homeowners information on whether a heating decision will be relevant to them. Building and property owners in district heating consolidation or development areas will receive a connection offer from SWM with sufficient advance notice.

SWM also offers heat pump (air or groundwater) systems for buildings where a decentralized solution makes the most sense.

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