Sweden: Vattenfall to power district heat network with excess energy algae plant

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Swedish multinational power company Vattenfall has signed a new contract that will enable the firm to meet the growing energy demand by using heat sourced from algae cultivation in Gustavsberg.

AstaReal has committed to providing Vattenfall with the excess heat generated from the cultivation and processing of algae to power some 2,500 new consumers in Gustavsberg, near Stockholm.

“From spring 2022, Gustavsberg residents will have more than 20% of their heating requirements covered through this solution,” says Lovisa Fricot Norén, Head of Vattenfall Heating in Sweden.

Vattenfall will install reversible heat recovery pumps at AstaReal’s facility to recover more than 15 million kWh of heat per year, which will be integrated into Vattenfall’s local district heating network. The heat pumps will comprise a climate-friendly refrigerant system to ensure an energy-efficient recovery of heat, according to a statement. The energy company will also install high-voltage transformers and switchgear and provide AstaReal with clean electricity at the facility.

Peter Worsöe, CEO of AstaReal, said his firm: “…is the first company in the world to produce the substance astaxanthin successfully on a large scale. It’s used as a nutritional supplement for both humans and animals in Sweden and globally. Production takes place through the cultivation of algae in unique bioreactors. The process is energy-intensive and therefore we’re committed to the most efficient use of electricity and cooling. Our extended partnership with Vattenfall fully aligns with our ambition to grow the algae as sustainably as possible and to be a positive force in society with a circular business.”

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Vattenfall says the deal forms efforts by the company to help customers move away from fossil fuels and to ensure sustainable production of heat to accelerate the energy transition and mitigate climate change.

The development follows the utility securing a contract to build ‘Europe’s largest e-boiler’ to provide heat to consumers in Diemen Amsterdam, the Netherlands. However, delaying the project rollout is a feasibility study the company is conducting to assess the best solutions and energy resources to use to make the Diemen plant as sustainable as it can be.

Ulrika Jardfelt, head of Business Area Heat at Vattenfall, said the firm: “wants to supply 100% sustainable heat in the Amsterdam region by 2040. In addition to E-boilers, Vattenfall is therefore also working on a number of other sustainable heat sources, such as biomass, geothermal, data centre heating and aqua thermal heat.”

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Alexander van Ofwegen, Director of Heat Vattenfall Netherlands, added: “The E-boiler only switches on if the electricity mix is sustainable with a lot of electricity from solar and wind. When there is insufficient green energy, the gas-fired power plants in Diemen are still needed to produce electricity – power plants that also supply heat very efficiently. We expect that these gas-fired plants will remain necessary in the coming decades for the security of supply in the Netherlands; first on natural gas, but later hydrogen from renewable sources.”