With CO2-free district heating, Leibnitz is on its way to becoming an environmental and energy showcase city



Together with the district heating suppliers Nahwärme Tillmitsch and Bioenergie Leibnitzerfeld, the city of Leibnitz has declared war on climate change and particulate matter. Leibnitz receives support from the ThermaFLEX research project, which uses innovative technologies in Leibnitz to demonstrate the heat supply of tomorrow.

“One of the declared goals of the Leibnitz 2030 public participation process is to make Leibnitz a model city for the environment and energy. Specifically, by 2030 we aim to maximise our own supply of sustainable energy, minimise particulate pollution below the pollution limit and strengthen public transport, cycling and pedestrian traffic,” says Helmut Leitenberger, Mayor of the City of Leibnitz. Achieving these goals requires numerous measures. These include, for example, the use of locally available renewable energies, the use of innovative technologies to increase energy efficiency, but also changes in the behaviour of the population. The mayor of the district town of Leibnitz with a population of almost 13,000 knows: “With district heating, we have a technology that can combine all these measures. For this reason, the city of Leibnitz is a great advocate and supporter of the expansion of the district heating supply with renewable energy sources. Thanks to the innovative district heating operators Nahwärme Tillmitsch, Bioenergie Leibnitzerfeld and Peter Holler from Altenmarkt, not only residential buildings, but also public buildings and businesses in the city area are supplied with space heating, hot water and process heat from 100% renewable sources.

Mayor Helmut Leitenberger is grateful for the competent partners who support the municipality in achieving its climate and environmental goals. Both the local heat Tillmitsch in the north and the bioenergy Leibnitzerfeld in the south are driving the expansion of district heating in Leibnitz at a rapid pace. The two heat suppliers are focusing on forward-looking solutions for the district heating sector and on the competence of 27 partners from the ThermaFLEX research project. The common goal: 100% renewable district heating in Leibnitz through cooperation and innovative solutions.

Markus Haselbacher, Managing Director of Nahwärme Tillmitsch, is one of the innovators: “Nahwärme Tillmitsch is a pioneer in district heating in the Leibnitz area. The heating network in Tillmitsch was already built in 2010, followed in 2012 by the heating network in Kaindorf, which today extends into the centre of Leibnitz. In total, we supply heat to our customers with four wood chip boilers, the fuel is 100% renewable and comes from the region. The plants are all equipped with state-of-the-art technology for flue gas cleaning and heat recovery from the flue gas, which enables us to make a significant contribution to reducing CO2, particulate matter and other emissions. We have decided to merge the two heating networks of Nahwärme Tillmitsch and Bioenergie Leibnitzerfeld. This enables the mutual exchange of heat and thus an efficient and resource-saving operation. We buy surplus heat from the animal carcass recycling (TKV) in summer and thus save valuable wood chips. In winter, we supply heat to Bioenergie Leibnitzerfeld during the weekend breaks of the TKV.”

Bioenergie Leibnitzerfeld under Managing Director Jakob Edler also contributes its know-how to Leibnitz: “In Leibnitz we contribute our experience from numerous implemented projects and district heating networks throughout Austria. We supply the Leibnitz region with waste heat from the Styrian TKV in Gabersdorf. This significantly reduces fine dust pollution as well as carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxide levels in the region. Umdasch The Store Makers is our largest customer and at the same time a role model and thought leader in the entire region. By connecting to our district heating network, Umdasch was able to reduce its gas requirements at the Leibnitz site by 80 percent. But also other major customers such as the LKH Wagna, the Leibnitz municipality with numerous properties as well as numerous major property developers are committed to climate protection by connecting to district heating. The cooperation with Nahwärme Tillmitsch enables us to supply our customers with 100% renewable heat even at weekends when the TKV is out of operation. In addition to the willingness to cooperate, balancing the differences between generation and consumption through flexible storage capacities and intelligent control strategies is a central issue. We receive support from our partners in the ThermaFLEX research project”.

ThermaFLEX is the largest project within the “Vorzeigeregion Energie” programme initiated by the Climate and Energy Fund. This programme is to develop and demonstrate model solutions for intelligent, safe and affordable energy and supply systems using innovative energy technologies from Austria. Jakob Binder (AEE INTEC) coordinates the scientific activities around the district heating expansion in Leibnitz as part of the ThermaFLEX research project. This is managed by the non-university research institute AEE – Institute for Sustainable Technologies from Gleisdorf.

“The Austrian flagship project ThermaFLEX is unique in Europe and aims to increase the share of renewable energy sources in heating networks. It therefore deals with concepts such as heat pump integration, energy storage, low-temperature heat supply or intelligent control, which are also implemented in seven demonstration projects. Heat networks are ideally suited for the integration of renewable energies and waste heat and enable coupling with other energy sectors or energy infrastructures. As one of the seven demonstration sites, the Leibnitz area plays a pioneering role throughout Austria. In addition to the aforementioned merger of the Leibnitzerfeld and Tillmitsch district heating networks, intelligent control strategies and storage concepts will contribute to the flexible and renewable heat supply of Leibnitz. In addition to the expertise and innovation potential of 27 project partners from the energy industry, research and technology companies, ThermaFLEX also brings subsidies (EUR 1.5 million) and investments (EUR 10.7 million) to the region. The project thus makes a valuable contribution to regional development and added value. At the same time, however, around 10,000 tonnes of CO2 will be saved through the research project and the district heating expansion. This corresponds to about 10 percent of the CO2 emissions of the city of Leibnitz”, reports Jakob Binder.

Another important aspect of the research project is user and stakeholder integration. Existing and potential customers are to be involved more intensively in order to leverage existing potential for energy efficiency and renewable energy. Mayor Helmut Leitenberger and the city of Leibnitz already have experience with this: “In the smart city project COOL Leibnitz, in addition to new technologies, the cooperative planning and integration of the latest findings in the sense of sustainable solutions for mobility, energy, green space, quality construction and public spaces is also important. We now want to promote this approach for district heating as well. We are increasingly focusing on forward-looking planning in which all key players are involved at an early stage.”

A basis for this is to be created in the future through energy spatial planning that guarantees energy-efficient urban development and the use of local energy potential – in particular biomass, waste heat, geothermal energy, solar thermal energy and photovoltaics. A second main pillar is better coordination between authorities, management and executing companies. There is limited space for pipeline operators (water, waste water, electricity, Internet, district heating, gas).

“In order to make optimum use of the available space, there will be ongoing coordination meetings with all parties involved in the future. On the one hand, this is intended to shorten the duration of the construction site and avoid an asphalt patchwork on roads. On the other hand, the population should be informed in good time about the possibility of connection to the district heating network. A central contact point is to provide interested parties with all relevant information on district heating and the realisation of their own house connection. We want to make it even easier for our citizens to live more sustainably and make a contribution to the energy showcase city. There is great interest and district heating is growing: in 2017 there were around 100 connections for Nahwärme Tillmitsch and Bioenergie Leibnitzerfeld with a heating requirement of around 6,700 MWh, by 2019 there will be around 280 connections and 33,700 MWh according to forecasts. These growth rates make us a pioneer in Austria. I am convinced that Leibnitz, through the joint efforts of the city, district heating operators and ThermaFLEX, will further expand its pioneering role in the district heating sector and achieve the goal of an “energy showcase city”.

Key points, data & figures

Status 2017UnitNW TillmitschBE LEibnitzerfeldTotal
Heat customers*[Stk.]1060106
Connected load[MW]6,206,2
Hot quantity sold[MWh]6.69606.696
Line meters[trm]9.76209.762
CO2 saving**[Tonnes/year]1.60701.607
Status 2019UnitNW TillmitschBE LEibnitzerfeldTotal
Heat customers*[Stk.]20080280
Connected load[MW]11,97,719,6
Hot quantity sold[MWh]15.70018.00033.700
Line meters[trm]18.90011.90030.800
CO2 saving**[Tonnen/Jahr3.7684.3208.088

*) also multi-family houses or housing estates are managed as individual customers
**)Calculation factor of the KPC production facility for substitution of natural gas: 0.24 tonnes per MWh

Comparative FigureUnitAmount
amount of heat
Quantity of Heat Sold Fernwärme 2019[MWh]33.700
Energy requirements Leibnitz City Heating and hot water*[MWh]155.300
Energy demand Leibnitz city total (incl. mobility)*[MWh]425.000
District heating share of heating and hot water[%]21,70%
District heating share of total energy demand[%]7,90%
CO2 savings in district heating expansion 2019[Tonnen/Jahr]8.088
CO2 reduction in district heating expansion 2019 with measures Research project[Tonnen/Jahr]10.088
CO2 emissions Leibnitz city total (incl. mobility)*[Tonnen/Jahr]107.000
Share of CO2 savings from district heating expansion in total output[%]7,60%
Share of CO2 savings from district heating expansion with research in total emissions[%]9,40%

*) GIS data for energy spatial planning of the Province of Styria

Green Energy Lab
Green Energy Lab is a research initiative for sustainable energy solutions that has been active since 2018 and is part of the Austrian innovation offensive “Vorzeigeregion Energie” of the Climate and Energy Fund.
The aim is to test the Green Energy Lab innovation projects on a large scale in a customer-centric manner, to bring them to market maturity and thus to bridge the gap between research and business model.
By 2025, 100 million euros are to be invested in innovative projects within the framework of the Green Energy Lab.

Numerous innovative projects will be carried out in the coming years under the umbrella of the flagship region Green Energy Lab. The largest of the current projects is the lead project ThermaFLEX. The ThermaFLEX project is supported by funds from the Climate and Energy Fund and is carried out within the framework of the FTI initiative “Showcase Region Energy”.

For further information please contact

Stadtgemeinde Leibnitz
Astrid Holler
+43 664 88 260 648

Jakob Binder
+43 3112 5886-222

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