Energy from wastewater: Giant potential for the heating revolution

Almost 5 to 14% of the heating needs in Germany can be covered by energy from wastewater. This corresponds to about 100 TWh/a. This result is from a study from enervis energy advisors GmbH that was published in December 2017. This, too, was confirmed in an impressive way in a study from the Universität Stuttgart from 2011, which arrived at similar figures. The now available core statements on the potential of wastewater heat usage read:

  • Energy from wastewater has the potential to cover approx. 5 to 14% of the heating needs in the German building sector.
  • The potential of wastewater lies at 101.4 TWh/a. Valued conservatively, this potential will increase by about 35 TWh by 2030.
  • Even in urban areas, the relationship between the offer and the demand for energy generation from wastewater is particularly favorable.
  • The potential of heat from wastewater increased by a factor of 1.79 through the incorporation of industrial waste heat in the sewer system.
  • The cooling potential of energy from wastewater lies at 14 TWh. The increasing cooling demand makes energy from wastewater still more attractive.
  • Wastewater heat usage can make a substantial contribution to climate protection. 10.7 million tons of CO2 can be spared by 2030.
  • Energy from wastewater will reduce the import dependency on gas and oil.
  • Wastewater heat usage offers the highest acceptance. It takes place below ground and does not cause any impact on the landscape.
  • Energy generation from wastewater is linked to sectors. Additional uses can be drawn from an existing infrastructure.

In order to be able to better increase the energy potential from wastewater, in addition to the increase of the level of awareness of wastewater as an energy source, altered political framework conditions are needed; that is, an ambitious energy revolution in the heating market and a palpable lowering of energy costs. You can find more on this and on our political positions here.