Waste heat - potentials, technical possibilities for use and transport

More than 50 % of Germany's final energy consumption is caused by the provision of heat (1), from which over 80 % is still based on fossil fuels (2). Due to the diversity of actors and the high costs of renewable heat, the transition of heat supply to renewable energies is a special challenge. Between other possibilities, an intensified use of waste heat can contribute to a cost-efficient heat transition. This includes both industrial waste heat and currently unused waste heat from biogas CHPs.

Depending on spatial conditions, the intensified use can be achieved either by integrating the waste heat into heat networks or by transporting it from sources to consumers in mobile heat storage units.

Within the framework of the "Networking Meeting Heat Transport" (organised by the Landsberg am Lech District Office, LENA Service GmbH and the Landsberg Energy Agency LENA e.V.), solution providers and interested parties on the subject of waste heat utilisation by mobile storage units met for an intensive exchange of experience on the topic. For this the FfE presented its investigations on the subject. The following points were taken up in the investigation:

  • Analysis of the German heat demand (space heating, domestic hot water and process heat) by temperature level
  • Expected developments in the demand for space heating and domestic hot water in private households as well as in the commercial sectors from today until 2050 (depending on climate protection ambitions)
  • Comparison of different potential studies in the field of waste heat
  • Comparing the waste heat potential in Bavaria with the heat requirements for space heating and domestic hot water
  • Explanation of online existing waste heat potential maps
  • Illustration of expected developments of district heating potentials in Germany
  • Description of challenges of the heat transition derived from previous studies
  • Presentation of current political/regulatory developments to enable the heat turnaround

An impression of the theoretical waste heat potential from industrial plants and biogas cogeneration plants in Bavaria, compared to the heat demand for space heating and domestic hot water, is shown in Figure 1.

Vergleich der Abwärmepotenziale in Bayern

Figure 1: Comparison of waste heat potentials in Bavaria with the heat demand of private households and GHD

Further information can be found in the press release "Pilot project: waste heat recovery with mobile heat exchangers" of LENA Service GmbH.

(1)   for 2017 according to BMWi (2019) "Facts and figures Energy data - National and international developments". 
(2)  for 2017 in accordance with the Working Group on Energy Balances (2019) "Application Balance for the Final Energy Sectors in Germany
(3)  based on IFEU et al (2018) "Potentials and barriers of extra-company waste heat utilisation in Germany
(4)  based on IFEU et al (2010) "The use of industrial waste heat - technical-economic potentials and energy policy implementation


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