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1708698640000 | Press Release

Modernization of the power plant in Heilbronn points the way to a hydrogen future

Coal-free electricity and heating to be supplied in the mid-Neckar region by 2026 / EnBW board member Güsewell: Another reference project for decarbonization and security of supply
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Official ground-breaking ceremony at the Heilbronn power plant for EnBW's third "Fuel Switch" project (copyright EnBW/Photographer Uli Deck)

Heilbronn. The energy transition is getting another reference project: Following the start of construction work at the Heilbronn power plant site, EnBW’s third so-called “fuel switch” project is now also underway. Work on parallel projects in Stuttgart-Münster and Altbach/Deizisau already started last year. The overall project is designed to supply the mid-Neckar region with coal-free electricity and heat by 2026. To this end, EnBW is investing round 1.6 billion euros and creating 1.5 gigawatts of flexibly controllable power plant capacity in the state, which is flanking the ramp-up of renewable energies and will be used to guarantee security of supply and grid stability in the region.

With a maximum electrical output of 710 megawatts (MW) and around 190 MW of district heating capacity, the Heilbronn combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) plant is being built to replace the coal-fired Block 7 at the power plant and reduce carbon emissions by more than 50 percent. To secure the supply of district heating, a heat storage facility with a capacity of 600 megawatt-hours and a hot water boiler system with a district heating capacity of approx. 170 MW are simultaneously being built. In the course of the conversion, part of the district heating grid will also be modernized in an energy-efficient manner by switching from a steam to a hot water network. The district heating grids supply around 300 industrial and commercial customers in Heilbronn and Neckarsulm, including Audi AG, alongside around 150 residential buildings.

The project is an important milestone for EnBW’s goal of achieving climate neutrality as a company by 2035: Once commissioned, the new CCGT plant will also be able to burn up to 20 percent hydrogen. The south German natural gas pipeline (SEL), which has been planned to be H2-ready, is set to connect the Heilbronn site upon completion. After the switchover and as soon as hydrogen is available in sufficient quantities, the Heilbronn power plant will be able to produce carbon-neutral electricity and district heating following minor conversion work. It will then play a key role in achieving the city of Heilbronn’s goal of becoming climate-neutral by 2035. The connection of the region to the hydrogen grid will also significantly help to keep the industrial location competitive.

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From left to right: Fred Schulze from the plant management of Audi AG in Neckarsulm, the Mayor of Heilbronn, Harry Mergel, State Secretary in the Ministry of the Environment, Climate Protection and the Energy Sector of the State of Baden-Württemberg, Dr Andre Baumann, EnBW Board Member Dirk Güsewell and Michael Class, Head of Generation Portfolio Development at EnBW. (copyright EnBW/Photographer Uli Deck)

Those present at the official groundbreaking ceremony on 23 February included the State Secretary at the Ministry of the Environment, Climate Protection and Energy Sector for the State of Baden-Württemberg, Dr. Andre Baumann; the Mayor of Heilbronn, Harry Mergel; Fred Schulze, plant manager at Audi AG in Neckarsulm; and EnBW board member Dirk Güsewell.

EnBW board member Dirk Güsewell emphasized: “Just like here in Heilbronn, we want to play our part in the energy transition and provide power plants that serve as reference projects for the energy transition and combine the desire for decarbonization with security of supply – and do so where electricity and heat are needed. The German government’s power plant strategy represents an important first step in this direction. For this strategy to be a success, it is especially important to continue developing it and to establish suitable framework conditions for ramping up hydrogen in Germany and Baden-Württemberg.”

State Secretary Dr. Andre Baumann commented: “The Heilbronn power plant site shows how a sustainable energy supply with electricity and heat can look – with highly efficient electricity and heat generation using gas-based CHP technology. Even though it will still initially be using fossil fuel in the form of natural gas, the road map for the next fuel switch, the switch to green hydrogen, has already been drawn up. The Heilbronn power plant site thus continues to embrace innovation and has the ideal basis for becoming an important anchor point in the new energy system. It is the task of policymakers to further improve the framework conditions not just for the expansion of renewables and the grid infrastructure, but also for the fuel switch at conventional power plants. This is what we are advocating in the power plant strategy and in the measures to reform the Heat and Power Co-Generation Act. After all, we need more innovative projects like this in Baden-Württemberg.”

Harry Mergel, Mayor of Heilbronn, explained: “With the new fuel switch plant, EnBW is playing an important role in guaranteeing the security of supply and maintaining network stability in our economically strong region and boosting Heilbronn as an energy location. The switch from coal to gas and eventually to green hydrogen will also significantly reduce harmful emissions. This also helps the city of Heilbronn’s efforts to become climate-neutral by 2035.”

Fred Schulze, plant manager at Audi AG, underlined: “Besides switching to renewable energy generation and expanding the infrastructure, security of supply should also be part of any viable concept for the energy transition. The future plant with the prospect of hydrogen power shows how the path to a sustainable electricity and heat supply can look.”

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About EnBW Energie Baden-Württemberg AG
With a workforce of around 28,000 employees, EnBW is one of the largest energy supply companies in Germany and Europe. It supplies electricity, gas and water together with infrastructure and energy-related products and services to around 5.5 million customers. In the company’s transformation from a traditional energy provider to a sustainable infrastructure group, the expansion of renewable energy sources and of the distribution and transportation grids for electricity and gas are cornerstones of EnBW’s growth strategy and the focus of its investment spending. Between 2023, and 2025, EnBW plans gross investment totalling €14 billion, largely in accelerating the implementation of the energy transition. By the end of 2025, renewables are set to account for more than half of EnBW’s generation portfolio. The aim is to phase out coal by the end of 2028. These are key milestones on the way to the company being carbon-neutral by 2035.

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