Matching Supply and Demand in Wastewater Heat


REFLOW, an EU-funded project under the H2020 Innovation and Action program, has launched a work-in-progress Wastewater Heat Radar, showcased in an explanatory 10-minute video. 

REFLOW aims to co-create circular and regenerative resource flows in six cities across Europe. Each city focuses on a different material or resource flow. The Berlin REFLOW pilot explores the recovery of wastewater heat. Berliner Wasserbetriebe, the city’s water utility, along with technology firms Fraunhofer Fokus and MCS Data Labs, and in coordination with the innovation and technology transfer organization Prototypes for Europe, have developed the prototype of a web-based software application that allows for matching supply and demand in wastewater heat.


Matchmaking Energy Supply and Demand: A Great Opportunity

Europe has set high targets for achieving a climate-neutral economy. Recent political developments in Europe make the identification of alternative energy sources even more pressing. The recovery of wastewater heat comes in handy as a potential piece in the puzzle to achieve both energy independence and climate neutrality. The hardware exists since long; challenges are rather in the areas of data acquisition and management. 

By matching (i) supply of heat from domestic and industrial wastewater with (ii) demand for such excess heat, the recovery rate can be significantly increased, thereby lowering the need to generate energy through other means. Currently only a tiny fraction of heat contained in wastewater is recovered. Matchmaking of this kind is a way to make the energy transition happen.


Targeting Professionals in Energy, Urban Development and Real Estate 

The app targets professionals in the fields of green energy, urban planning, real estate development, industrial planning and heat pump engineering. It is currently in a test stage for the Berlin pilot team to understand the relevance of the tool across Europe, and to identify needs in other regions outside Berlin. Prototypes for Europe CEO Daniel Heltzel says: ‘It is clearly the aim to understand the potential of the matchmaking technology beyond Berlin. By exposing our idea to experts in various fields we intend to gain insight of how to best design the software, its features and visual interface, and to adapt to the needs of other urban areas.’


Efficient Search for Heat Potentials

The REFLOW Wastewater Heat Radar gives users the option to search for individual buildings, or to upload a file with muliple addresses. When inserting a single address the app checks for potential heat capacity and demand. The user will get all relevant information to make a basic decision about whether the location is worth further investigation. During the testing phase and for the near future, matches will be manually generated at Berliner Wasserbetriebe which is in the possession of a large part of the data and information used in the development of the app. Data privacy and security are ensured. 

Likewise for all other searches the processing of requests is manual at this stage. This allows for the further improvement of features and workflows. Going live is planned for a later stage.

The depth of information provided by the app is unique. Shown are the potential heat capacity at selected locations as well as four simulated heat demand scenarios at such locations, based on assumed building conditions. Displayed is also the percentage rate of heat demand which can be covered by the potential recovered heat. 

The real power of the matchmaking unfolds when the heat potential is calculated on a district level. Users can set a radius around a selected location for retrieving total heat demand and heat capacity in that particular area. This shows the potential of the Wastewater Heat Radar to enable district heating networks.

For users with a large building inventory the app offers the possibility to check multiple addresses simultaneously. The app will run calculations for each individual building. 


Advanced Filter Functions Available

Users may filter all buildings by building type, for instance schools, hospitals, administrative buildings, etc. Categorized buildings will be highlighted for easy use by urban planners and other relevant stakeholders.


Dialogue Plays a Key Role Before Installations Are Being Made

The question arises, what happens after a match has been identified? – In such cases Berliner Wasserbetriebe will look at the technical and financial feasibility of installing a heat exchanger. The various involved parties will enter into a negotation where all details will be discussed and a roadmap developed. Not necessarily will every match lead to an installation. Many other factors will need to be considered. The Berlin pilot though is confident that the app will serve to increase the rate of installations in Berlin, and hopefully beyond Berlin as well.


Future Steps and Advancements in Energy Matchmaking

Daniel Heltzel sees a great opportunity for the matchmaking technology that has been developed: ‘This is basically what the market needs. If we are able to handle the complexities of data acquisition and management, the outlook for this technology is great and goes beyond wastewater heat. In fact, we have been in talks with organizations already that have expressed interest in further working with us on refining this technology. Along the way we will improve the interface, technical features and workflows, and with it the impact we intend to have in the market.’

Contact of the Berlin pilot:

The REFLOW Berlin team has released an explanatory video of its wastewater heat matchmaking app.

Berlin Pilot

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