Renewable energies

Hamburg Metropolitan Region – Renewable energies

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The sector – Clean power from the North

The renewable energy sector is developing at breakneck speed: Most of the companies were set up or relocated here as established businesses within the past five years. Leading edge technologies with international reputations are being developed in the Metropolitan Region. Constant winds and wide open spaces between the Elbe and North and Baltic Seas offer optimal conditions for wind power.

Agriculture and forestry are also becoming more involved in energy production out of biomass. Skilled trades firms contribute to added value, particularly through sale, installation and maintenance of equipment. An increasing market share is being taken by energy traders in the Metropolitan Region specialising in renewable energies, such as Lichtblick AG or GREENPEACE energy eG. The sector is optimistic about the future. Companies in the Metropolitan Region are expecting export quotas to keep rising in the coming years.

Focuses – A new wind blowing

Wind power

The part of the Metropolitan Region between the North and Baltic seas has all the natural requirements as an outstanding location for wind power installations. A unique conglomeration of companies and institutions in wind energy business has assembled on the North Sea coast. They include manufacturers of wind energy plants, services and supplier companies. The second largest producer of wind energy plants, REpower Systems AG, and Plambeck, Neue Energien AG, are both headquartered in the Metropolitan Region.

The rotating blades of giant offshore wind farms on the testing grounds of Brunsbüttel and Cuxhaven are of the latest multi-megawatt class. Development of Cuxhaven as an offshore base is a great chance to strengthen its muscle as a business location in the region. Offshore wind parks in the North Sea have optimal access from here.

Production has already started at Cuxhaven Steel Construction GmbH (which builds the core foundation structures); AMBAU GmbH will start to produce towers by 2009. The addition of the heavy load platform for handling ready-assembled offshore plant or components is creating a unique location on the German North Sea coast. Across the Elbe, Hafengesellschaft Brunsbüttel mbH has been transshipping wind power plants in Brunsbüttel’s port since 2004. In 2006, for example, it landed REPower’s first 5MW plant for testing off shore. Tackling this consignment was a huge logistical challenge – and real pioneering work!

Measurement data and certification of the plants is carried out by Windtest Kaiser-Wilhelm-Koog GmbH, whose highly respected skills in supporting wind power generation began in 1990. To push ahead research on offshore wind energy exploitation, the Schleswig-Holstein government is supporting the construction, erection and operation of the NEPTUN – FINO 3 research platform in the North Sea.

Numerous biogas plants, particularly farm installations of up to 500 kW, but also large communal plants of up to 1.5MW have developed in recent years in Hamburg Metropolitan Region. The plants, most of which are supplied with renewable raw materials, represent a new source of income for farmers and help to safeguard agricultural operations. One example is the NovusEnergy GmbH biomass power plant in ChemCoast Park, Brunsbüttel. The power plant is expected to feed around 60m kilowatt hours of electricity into the public grid every year.

In the future, such plants will not primarily be producing power and heating, but feeding treated gas into the public gas distribution system or converting into regenerative fuel. Biogas production in the Metropolitan Region is concentrated in the districts of Rotenburg (Wümme), which has 60 plants, and Solltau-Fallingbostel with 50.

The region also has its share of competent partners for planning and installation of new plant in the shape of BIOWATT Energy GmbH, MT-Energie GmbH and the combined heat and power plant construction specialist Dreyer & Bosse.

Solar power

Solar technology businesses find good conditions for manufacturing and marketing their goods in the Metropolitan Region, not least because of public subsidies for alternative energies through the City of Hamburg’s climate protection concept. Conergy AG is a worldwide leader in solar technology. The range of products covers the whole spectrum of regenerative energy systems using sunlight to produce electricity, heating or cooling. Through its European headquarters, Sharp Electronics supports the new climate protection policy through the “Hamburg roof” initiative. Solara AG, a wholly owned subsidiary of Centrosolar AG, is based in Hamburg with its production facility in nearby Wismar. Through its subsidiary CIS Solartechnik GmbH, Norddeutsche Affinerie AG develops flexible copper-based solar cells.


Renewable energies also play an increasingly important role in fuel production. Closeness to regional procurement markets and good transport connections via road, rail and water mean that the rural regions of the Hamburg Metropolitan Region are well suited as locations for plants producing bio-ethanol, biodiesel and biomass-to-liquid (BTL) fuels. Germany’s first biogas filling station is at Jameln in Lüchow-Dannenberg district, which is operated by the local Raiffeisen coooperative.

Hot spot Wendland

Lüchow-Dannenberg district has committed itself to sustainable development in its district development concept. This builds on a number of successful individual projects, such as numerous biogas plants, filling stations for liquid biogas and vegetable oil or villages that are self-supporting in energy terms. Through the new concept, the network of parties involved, including some small and medium-sized companies active in regenerative energies, is to be improved and contacts to scientific academia opened up. Energy management agency EMMA advises public and private builders on new-build or renovation issues. In addition a planned distance learning study course on renewable energies is designed to close the gaps between production, application and academia.

Education, research and development – New power

Around 30 Hamburg companies conduct research and development on their own premises or cooperate with university-level and other institutions in the Metropolitan Region. The „Lifetec process engineering“ research focus at the University for applied sciences Hamburg (HWA), includes fermentation of wet and direct liquefaction of dry biomass projects. The research focus is part of the “Biogas crops network”, which groups ten university institutes. Research under way at the Hamburg-Harburg technical university (TUHH) is, for example, looking into the use of biomass in heat power stations, as well as foundations for offshore wind power plants. Network integration of renewable energy producers is being investigated at Helmut Schmidt University.

North of the Elbe, university-level institutions from Heide/West Coast, Flensburg and Kiel have formed Cewind, a wind energy centre of excellence. The centre of excellence has the goal of creating a structure with which research and development projects concerned with wind energy use can be worked through and realised in cooperation with private companies.

Scientific establishments in Geesthacht, Kiel and Lübeck are working on hydrogen and fuel cell technologies. The centre of excellence for hydrogen and fuel cells on the campus of the Lübeck university of applied sciences is aiming, through cooperation between the scientific community and business, to develop applications for hydrogen and fuel cell technology and to arrive at economical use with new products.

Business development – Networks

South of the Elbe, the Lower Saxony renewable basic materials network (3N) connects activities in the areas of renewable primary products and bioenergy. This network includes representatives from research and development, and skills, training and experimentation, which cooperate with the 3N centre of excellence. The network provides for transfer of information and knowledge, exploitation of synergy effects, promotion of cooperation between research institutions and the business community and with the centre of excellence.

The applied sciences universities of Kiel, Flensburg and Lübeck, as well as the universities of Kiel and Flensburg, have developed a network of biomass utilisation centres of excellence in Schleswig-Holstein. Work is broken down into four areas: agricultural production, matter flows and recovery; extraction of recyclables; process technology, and the energy business. This network tracks joint analysis of research and development projects, strengthens the regional economy through transfer of technology, and works toward more intensive dialogue and cooperation between academia, business and politics.

Windcomm, the wind power network agency, is a joint project of WFG Nordfriesland and egeb Entwicklungsgesellschaft Brunsbüttel. Windcomm is cluster manager for the wind power sector north of the Elbe, whose most important locations in Germany are on the west coast. Windcomm supports activities to encourage companies and institutions connected with wind energy to relocate in the region, bundle expertise, and initiate and coordinate projects.

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