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Detmold public utilities: Commitment to climate protection

For Detmold’s public utilities, there is no question of looking on and doing nothing in the fight against climate change – the municipal energy provider wants to take an active role in shaping climate protection and sustainable behaviour in its region. By rigorously pursuing its own climate protection strategy, the company has not only implemented measures in nearly all areas of its business, but has even exceeded the climate protection targets it has set itself.

Detmold’s public utilities supply around 78,000 residents and a large number of business customers with natural gas, electricity, drinking water and district heating, and also operate the Aqualip public swimming pool. Renewable energy was an important issue for the company from an early stage. Back in 2001, for example, the public utility company established its first wind farm, supplying energy to more than 1,000 households. In response to the German federal government’s Meseberg Resolutions in 2007, the company then developed its own climate protection strategy and made a pact on municipal climate protection with the city of Detmold in 2009. Under this agreement, both sides undertook to implement the climate protection targets set by the German government at the municipal level as well. Since that time, the energy provider has invested more than 50 million euros in climate-friendly measures and has integrated the concept of climate protection into nearly all areas of its business.

Climate protection objective:

  • 60 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions by 2020

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Photo: Detmold public utilities

In the area of electricity generation, Detmold public utilities have been supplying non-nuclear energy since 2012, while the proportion of electricity generated from renewable energy stands at the impressive level of 92 per cent. 



Comprehensive climate-protection concept

Amongst other areas, the heating sector plays a major role here. In keeping with the climate pact’s agreed target of increasing the proportion of renewable energy used in heating, a key element is the expansion of climate-friendly district heating. By supplying heating generated by a wood-fired heating plant and constructing three cogeneration plants between 2010 and 2016, the energy provider managed to increase the proportion of renewable energy used to over 75 per cent. The public utility company has also boosted the expansion of the district heating grid and has laid more than 20 kilometres of district heating transmission lines since 2009. At the same time, sales of heat increased in a period of just seven years from 50 million kilowatt-hours in 2008 to more than 120 million kilowatt-hours in 2017, thereby augmenting the benefit in terms of climate protection.

In the area of electricity generation, Detmold public utilities have been supplying non-nuclear energy since 2012, while the proportion of electricity generated from renewable energy stands at the impressive level of 92 per cent. Between 2009 and 2018, photovoltaic (PV) systems with a total capacity of around seven megawatts were installed for this purpose. This not only includes the company’s own plants, but also systems provided to customers in order to cover their own energy needs as part of rental schemes. In addition, PV expansion was also promoted through financial participation options for citizens. At the same time, the public utility company has invested in shares in wind parks and in electricity production from photovoltaic systems on landfill sites, and also holds a share equating to five megawatts of capacity in a gas and steam turbine power plant. The remaining percentage is provided by the wind farm established in 2001, by biomass facilities (mainly using industrial timber and waste wood) and by biomethane, which is processed in the company’s own plants and fed into the gas grid. The small percentage of fossil-fuelled electricity generated by Detmold’s public utility company is based entirely on natural gas and takes place in CHP plants. In the area of electricity distributed the proportion of power from renewable energy sources stands at 100 per cent. And the natural gas is also certified as climate neutral via compensatory climate protection projects.

Further measures involved in the climate protection strategy concern energy efficiency. The transportation and circulation pumps in the company’s own power plants have been replaced by more efficient technology, for example, and the water supply and disposal infrastructure in the local swimming pool operated by the public utility company has been upgraded in terms of energy efficiency. As regards the supply of drinking water, the main focus is on reducing water losses in order to save pump power consumption.

In the area of e-mobility, Detmold public utilities are working on developing a charging infrastructure. The company currently operates 15 publicly accessible e-charging stations in the city where people can charge their vehicles for free. It has also purchased nine electric vehicles for its own fleet.

The first ‘KlimaStadtWerk’

As a result of the measures they have implemented, Detmold public utilities were not only named the first ‘KlimaStadtWerk’ (public utility company committed to climate protection) in March 2018 by Deutsche Umwelthilfe (Environmental Action Germany): in 2018, well in advance of the deadline, they have already achieved their target of halving their CO2 emissions by 2020, as compared to 1990 levels. The company has set itself a new target of reducing CO2 emissions by a total of 60 per cent. In order to achieve this, the public utility company will build a new heat storage unit with a capacity of 100 megawatt-hours in Detmold city centre. A new wood-fired heating and power station will also be constructed in in Horn-Bad Meinberg, in collaboration with partner Senne Energie, replacing the power station that has previously been used to feed the district heating network.


Photo: Detmold public utilities GmbH

“By building the highly-efficient wood-fired heating and power station in Horn-Bad Meinberg, a majority share of which is owned by Detmold public utilities and which has been built in collaboration with our partner Senne Energie, Detmold public utilities are making a significant contribution to climate protection. The building project is one of the largest investments in climate protection measures in the history of the public utility company, with a value of around 22 million euros.”

Jörg Karlikowski, Managing Director