Smart heat meters for Berlin district heating

All customers are scheduled to be equipped with smart meters by the end of the year. This large-scale installation makes the company a pioneer in Germany.

Björn Böhning, Gunther Müller, Raul Fuchs, Alf Geßner

From left to right: Björn Böhning (Governing Mayor of Berlin), Gunther Müller (Vattenfall Wärme CEO), Raul Fuchs (Director Marketing & Sales at Samson), Alf Geßner (Vattenfall District Heating Network Manager).
Photo: Pedro Becerra

The ambitious project was officially kicked off on 23 January, 2018, at Rotes Rathaus (Red City Hall) in Berlin. This historical building with about 200 rooms has been a district heating customer since 1971. Now, 47 years later, the digital future of district heat supply was rung in there in the boiler room. Björn Böhning, Governing Mayor of Berlin, and Gunther Müller, Vattenfall Wärme CEO, joined hands to switch on the first heat meter with remote reading in the State of Berlin.

Precise control thanks to smart heat meters

"This smart little meter is the key to even more precise control of our district heating system, with about 2,000 kilometres of piping, from generation to the consumer. We can optimise fuel use and reduce CO2 emissions. That increases efficiency and cuts costs. With this technology we are supporting the efforts of the State of Berlin to become a climate-neutral city by 2050", said Gunther Müller, speaking to journalists and employees at the historic event. State Secretary Björn Böhning called the smart meter an important technological sign that Berlin is evolving into a smart, successful city that is desirable to live in. He commented that partners like Vattenfall are essential for this.

Free installation for heat customers

"We aim to have all Berlin district heating customers equipped with digital meters by the end of the year", says Alf Geßner, District Heating Network Manager. That will transform the current 60 network data points to about 20,000, all connected to the heat control centre that monitors and controls district heat supply in Berlin. Meter installation is free for customers and does not disrupt normal operation. That means there will be no interruption in heat supply to 1.2 million Berlin district heating customers.

Installation of a smart district heat meter in the boiler room at Rotes Rathaus (Red City Hall),Berlin – media event 23 January 2018.

Installation of a smart district heat meter

Installation of a smart district heat meter in the boiler room at Rotes Rathaus (Red City Hall),Berlin – media event 23 January 2018.
Photo: Pedro Becerra

Smart heat meters enable tailored supply

The smart district heat meters also put an end to the era of manual meter reading. Household-specific heat consumption data, including temperature, pressure and flow, is read every 15 minutes and sent over the mobile phone network to the district heat control centre for processing.

"This data boosts energy management to a completely new level", says Geßner. Based on their consumption parameters, customers can receive heat supply tailored to their needs and can adjust their usage behaviour. The technology also forms the basis for energy optimisation in building renovation projects. The acquired data additionally simplifies billing, trouble analysis and customer support.

Gunther Müller: "With the smart meters we are intensifying the dialogue with our customers."

From Berlin for Berlin

In early December Vattenfall Wärme Berlin and Samson signed a contract for the digital technology and services.

"That means the smart meters and digital services for the Berlin heat transition come from our own city", says Vattenfall Wärme CEO Gunther Müller. Vattenfall Wärme Berlin is investing about 9.3 million euros in the digital future of district heat supply.

By Bärbel Arlt

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