INTERREG project WIEfm, in cooperation with the FH Münster and German-Dutch partners: round two.
Simon Niessen (research assistant in the department of Energy · Building Services · Environmental Engineering at FH Münster) puts it in a nutshell: „in Germany, when we talk about energy transition, we’re actually talking about electrical energy.“ As many know, more and more people are choosing to use green electricity from renewable sources. However, a lot of homes are still being heated with natural gas or oil, i.e. finite, fossil fuels which are often imported. This is the reason for the project WiEfm. It stands for „Wärme in der Euregio: fokussieren und modernisieren” (heat energy in Euregio: focussing and modernising) and is now running for a second time. Together with five German-Dutch partner companies („TaskForce Wärme“ or „task force for thermal energy“) it aims to highlight the possibilities and opportunities for sustainable heat supply and thereby actively encourage the transition to sustainable thermal energy. The most important question is: why are we not using renewable energy for heating, too?
From a technical point of view it would actually be quite easy: councils and local authorities use district heating systems which are supplied with clean energy. Residual heat from industrial areas could also be fed into the system, instead of being blown out into the atmosphere and ultimately wasted. The researchers have already identified, prepared and presented the areas where it would be worth installing such a district heating system. This was done in the first project with the help of a „hotspot map“ (a map of areas with high heat demand). „Now we want to use this hotspot analysis for the Dutch region and collect more data, e.g. the age of the gas pipes or the type of buildings within the hotspots”, explains Niessen.
That alone tells us one thing: this topic needs more attention – from politicians, climate protection officials and citizens. The six work packages are therefore not only based on technical topics but also involve using tools which are practical, application-oriented and boost publicity. „For new energy we want new forms of communication“, says Dr. Elmar Bruegging, project manager at the FH. „It’s about being able to experience the transition to sustainable thermal energy in 3-D and to show people how the planned installations could look and what the necessary changes would be. For example, a customer´s new heating system or the planned piping system in a hotspot“. According to Bruegging, by working with ROM3D and GeoDok Geoinformatik they can use augmented reality, virtual reality and geographical mapping software to make the transition to sustainable thermal energy clear and tangible, even in the planning phase. The design and development of an instrument which speeds up the planning process is also on the drawing board. Its aim is to simplify the process of laying out and calculating district heating systems so that the user can get a quick first feeling and initial impression of it. In addition, an interactive map of the Euregio region will show all the project partners involved—such as planners, engineering consultants, contractors and local authorities- providing a platform for networking. Basically, the full package.
The project „TaskForce Wärme – WiEfm 2.0“ is the continuation of the project „WiEfm – Wärme in der Euregio fokussieren und modernisieren“. It is funded by INTERREG and will run until Spring 2022. All brochures and provisional results from the projects are available for download and order, in both German and Dutch, on the project homepage: www.wiefm.eu.