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Daimler Truck, EnBW and the City of Wörth am Rhein establish joint venture for forward-looking project: Sustainable heat generation through geothermal energy in Wörth

The partners want to jointly investigate possibilities for the exploration, development, and extraction of environmentally friendly energy through geothermal heat at the Mercedes-Benz production site in Wörth

Daimler Truck, EnBW and the City of Wörth am Rhein founded the joint venture WärmeWerk Wörth GmbH following the positive decision by the town council in July this year. The joint venture is intended to investigate the possibilities of a climate-neutral energy supply for the Mercedes-Benz plant in Wörth and the City of Wörth am Rhein. The aim is to determine the geothermal usability and, if positive, to build and operate a geothermal plant to generate heat at the Wörth site. The excess geothermal heat, however at least 10%, is to be used to supply existing municipal local heating networks in the City of Wörth am Rhein. There are currently no plans to generate electricity. The scientifically supervised project is also intended to provide new insights into the development of geothermal energy as an energy source.

The three partners bring together Daimler Truck, the largest employer in the southern Palatinate, EnBW, a leading energy company in Germany with many years of expertise in geothermal energy, and the City of Wörth am Rhein, a dynamic municipality with an innovative city administration that stands for public services. Stefan Ertle, asset manager for district heating in EnBW‘s generation division, and Thomas Neckenich, responsible for energy supply and green production at Daimler Truck’s Wörth site, were appointed as managing directors of WärmeWerk Wörth GmbH.

Climate-neutral energy supply as an important contribution to decarbonization

Deep geothermal energy is of particular importance in the search for environmentally friendly alternatives to conventional energy generation. The geology of the Upper Rhine Plain, where the City of Wörth am Rhein is located, promises good conditions for the sustainable extraction of geothermal heat.

Geothermal energy can thus make an important contribution to the further decarbonization of the Wörth production site and the City of Wörth am Rhein. The project is a significant step by the three partners towards the consistent implementation of the German government’s climate strategy.

The aim of the joint venture is to explore the region for its suitability for the development of geothermal energy. After careful examination of the local and geological conditions in cooperation with independent consultants and recognized experts, a second step will be to determine the most suitable location for a geothermal well. The construction and commissioning of a geothermal plant on site is planned after drilling has been successfully completed and approval of the requested federal funding has been obtained.

Three partners on equal footing and rooted in the region

Thomas Neckenich: “Heat generation through geothermal energy offers us the opportunity, as a production site, to use a virtually CO2-free energy source in the direct vicinity for sustainable production. Our two partners bring with them the relevant expertise in geothermal heat and energy supply. For the general public and our employees, education and transparency over the entire course of the process is the top priority.”

Stefan Ertle: “We have been involved in the development and use of deep geothermal energy for around 20 years. The geological conditions for this are particularly good here in the Upper Rhine region. That’s why we’re all the more pleased with the plan to work with Daimler Truck and the City of Wörth to create an environmentally friendly heat supply for both the truck production site and the local people.”

Dr. Dennis Nitsche, mayor of the City of Wörth am Rhein: “Together with the largest employer in the City of Wörth, we are setting out on the road to a sustainable future. In the process, we are being accompanied by an experienced energy company and renowned scientific institutions. For the people in Wörth, an affordable, reliable and sustainable heat supply is of utmost interest. Equally important, however, is protection against seismic activity. The City of Wörth am Rhein, as a representative of interests for the common good and general public services, is therefore an important partner in this project.”

Invitation to a citizen dialog

A key concern of the partners is to provide expert, comprehensive and transparent information with a wide range of forms of participation for citizens across all phases of the project. A central information platform on the Internet, face-to-face dialog with the general public, and information booths at central locations as well as at the Mercedes-Benz Trucks plant itself are planned. The people in the southern Palatinate are to be guided along the development path of the project by scientifically sound information and plenty of scope for the questions and concerns of local residents. A transparent and dialogue-oriented awareness-raising campaign on the topic of geothermal energy directed at the public and the surrounding municipalities at the earliest possible time is a central concern for all project partners.

The current plan is to select a suitable site in 2024/2025. This is to be followed by testing and development in 2025–2027. If the requested federal funding is granted, the geothermal heating plant could be built and connected to the heating network from 2027 onwards according to the current status, so that commissioning could take place in 2028.

Environmentally friendly production to improve CO2 footprint of the industrial site.

Dr. Andreas Bachhofer, Site Manager of the Mercedes-Benz plant in Wörth and Production Manager Mercedes-Benz Trucks: “The use of renewable energies for electricity and heat is an essential factor for green production. For electricity, we already rely on green power as well as our own PV systems. In addition, we are continuously reviewing which processes we can make more energy efficient. For example, our new paint shop will require temperatures that are not as high as our previous one. The plant is currently undergoing transformation.”

EnBW’s goal is to become completely climate-neutral as a whole company by 2035, at the latest, in accordance with the Paris Climate Agreement. To achieve this, the company is relying both on the expansion of renewable energies and on the gradual phase-out of coal-fired power generation, which is to be achieved in Germany by 2038 under the Coal Phase-out Act. The company intends to completely phase out coal-fired power generation as early as 2028, provided this is allowed by the framework conditions set by the German Federal Government. In addition to generating electricity from renewable energies, EnBW is also pursuing a comprehensive strategy to decarbonize its heat supply.

Climate-neutral heat supply to reduce CO2 footprint of City of Wörth

In its Climate Package I, the City of Wörth am Rhein has resolved to become climate-neutral by 2030. The decarbonization of the heat supply makes an essential contribution to this objective. This requires expanding the existing local heating network. The city council has already taken a decision on this expansion and thus set the decisive course for the future.

SOURCE: Daimler Truck

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