Sabroe ammonia heat pump at Vattenfall CHP plant in Berlin-Buch.
The newly commissioned Sabroe ammonia heat pump at Vattenfall CHP plant in Berlin-Buch will avoid 620 metric tons of CO2e a year.

German CHP Plant Installs Ammonia Heat Pump to Support Decarbonization Strategy

A Sabroe ammonia heat pump will boost the district heating capacity at Vattenfall’s Berlin-Buch combined heating and power plant, avoiding 620 metric tons of CO2e a year.

U.S. OEM Johnson Controls (JCI) has commissioned an ammonia/NH3 (R717) heat pump at the Berlin-Buch Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plant. The new installation will support Vattenfall Europe Wärme, a Swedish multinational power company, in its goal of becoming carbon neutral across its heating and power generation facilities by 2050. 

The addition of the 700kW (199TR) Sabroe ammonia heat pump will boost the Vattenfall CHP plant’s heating capacity without burning any additional fossil fuel, cutting an estimated 620 metric tons of CO2e a year, according to a statement from JCI. The plant currently uses a heat recovery boiler to capture waste heat from an existing gas turbine to generate heat for a local district heating network.

“Cutting carbon emissions from the use of fossil fuels in heating/cooling, whether for district heating, industrial processes or in buildings, has to be a top priority if we want to achieve a net-zero economy in the fight against climate change,” said Katie McGinty, Vice President and Chief Sustainability and External Relations Officer at Johnson Controls.

According to JCI’s statement, Vattenfall’s urban heating network in Berlin is the largest in western Europe. A total of 2,000km (1,242.7mi) of pipelines provide heating and hot water to around 1.3 million residential units across the city. In the north of Berlin, the Buch island network supplies around 10,000 apartments and 500 individual facilities such as schools or clinics, with climate-friendly heat.

“The new heat pump installation at Berlin-Buch is part of our goal to enable fossil-free living in one generation, while still delivering on our customers’ expectations for the supply of affordable electricity and heat in the city of Berlin,” said Andreas Heuer, Decentralized Plant Asset Manager at Vattenfall. “We are proud to be part of the pioneering effort to roll out heat pumps across Germany’s energy sector,” he added.

Germany is currently going through an Energiewende (“energy transition”). By increasing renewables and reducing fossil fuels, the country aims to be carbon neutral by 2050. As a part of this transition, Germany will phase out coal-fired power generation by 2038, and in support of these national targets, Vattenfall has committed to completely phase out coal in its heat portfolio by 2030.

Heat pumps for a more sustainable Europe

Heat pumps, like Sabroe’s high-temperature 273 S, will play a crucial role in the EU’s transition to a sustainable, low-carbon economy, as set out in the European Green Deal. They are also core to Europe’s REPowerEU plan, which aims to install 50 million heat pumps across the bloc by 2030. According to JCI, the technology’s ability to deliver heating and cooling without the use of natural gas makes heat pumps “absolutely critical” at a time when energy prices are at their peak and energy security is a major concern.

“This project puts the power of heat pumps to work to meet energy needs while cutting waste, emissions and costs,” said Dave Dorney, Vice President and General Manager of Industrial Refrigeration at Johnson Controls. “Importantly, heat pumps deliver required heating without the need for additional gas supplies,” he continued.

“This project puts the power of heat pumps to work to meet energy needs while cutting waste, emissions and costs.”

Dave Dorney, Johnson Controls

According to McGinty, “natural gas is the primary source of energy for building heating, so [JCI is] eagerly ramping up our production of heat pumps and other solutions to meet the challenge of improved building efficiency and a netzero and secure energy future.”

Dorney added that JCI is “proud to be part of the energy transition in Germany, and this project gives us the opportunity to put our large heat pumps to work and provide energy, environmental and security solutions.”

In a demonstration of their commitment to a more sustainable energy sector, both Vattenfall and Johnson Controls are founding members of the First Movers Coalition, which was launched at COP26 in Glasgow by the U.S. State Department and the World Economic Forum. According to the Coalition, members are committed to increasing the share of emerging technologies critical to the net-zero transition. 

Johnson Controls explained its approach to heat pumps at the ATMO World Summit (organized by ATMOsphere, publisher of on March 30.

Want to find out more, or have something to say about this story? Join the ATMO Connect network to meet and engage with like-minded stakeholders in the clean cooling and natural refrigerant arena.

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