What is the primary purpose: heat or power production? That is the question, and many people believe the two options are mutually exclusive. However, this is not necessarily the case. In an energy landscape of increasingly decentralized power producing units, there are a growing number of CHP operators taking a different approach. One of them is the local heat system “Brigachschiene” in southern Germany. Three combined heat and power units running on biomethane generate 3.7 MWe. They source their biomethane from the Germany company bmp greengas, and their units are linked to Next Kraftwerke’s Virtual Power Plant via the remote control unit “Next Box.” Heat or power production? For Brigachschiene, it’s no longer an either-or question.
With a high amount of heat storage, there is enough flexibility in heat production to also produce power when power prices are best. “Of course we want to meet the heat supply obligation for our combined heat and power systems. Therefore, we have determined a level at which the heat storage tank can be emptied. This allows us to participate in both the electricity and the heat markets,” says Joachim Ledwig, CEO of Brigachschiene. The flexibility premium – received by operators during peak load operations – is an additional financial incentive. Ledwig says: “We hope to increase revenue by participating in balancing power as well as in peak load operations. We’re contributing to grid stability and improving the security of supply, and also helping put the energy transition into action.”