News and Articles
09/12/2014 | News, Newsletter December 2014
Solar thermal energy could be a central part of Graz's future district heating energy supply
The city of Graz has supported the district heating network extension program for years. Today, the existing traditional energy supply cannot be operated economically anymore. Soon, 500 000 m² collectors and seasonal storages could provide 20% of the energy demand of the DH grid.

Almost every third household in Graz is connected to the district heating system. Around 80 percent of the grid´s energy was provided by two fossil fuel plants, Mellach and Neudorf/Werndorf II. Within the city of Graz, both plants have contributed to massive fine dust emission reductions within the last years.

As of today, the city of Graz faces unpredicted challenges: The outdated coal-fired thermal power plant in Mellach is supposed to be de-commissioned by 2020. Therefore a brand-new, state-of-the-art highly efficient 832 Megawatt electric gas-fired CHP was implemented in 2011 as stand-by backup and for future security of supply. The CHP was designed to provide up to 300 MW heat to Graz. Due to recent economic developments this new CHP plant can´t be operated from a profitable perspective. The outdated oil fueled plant in Neudorf/Werndorf II is already off the grid. The city of Graz has to reorganize its entire energy sources to operate the district heating system. It seems to be a herculean task! How should 300 MW of energy be provided in the future?

SOLID developed a concept in which solar thermal energy plays an important role: A combination of 500 000 m² solar thermal collector systems and long term storages could provide 20% of the district heating network energy demand. As opposed to natural gas plants today, solar thermal systems can be operated profitably. The proposal has been presented to the City and the utilities and is under discussion, results are expected by mid-December 2014.

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