Drilling underway in Wilhelmsburg to extract geothermal energy

Climate-friendly energy using hot, underground thermal water - part of IW3 real laboratory
02 February 2022
Energiebunker Wilhelmsburg

Drilling has begun in Hamburg-Wilhelmsburg to extract geothermal energy and bring hot thermal water from a depth of 3,500 metres to the surface. Launched in January, the project marks the first construction phase of a geothermal plant due for completion by 2024 as part of the IW3 Energy Transition Real Laboratory. On completion, it would supply around 5,000 households in Wilhelmsburg with environment-friendly heat and save around 7,000 tons of CO2 per annum. The project is being funded by the German government to the tune of EUR 22.5 million. The total investment comes to around EUR 70 million. 

Use of geothermal energy
© Hamburg Energie, Hamburg Wasser
Geothermal energy to speed up energy transition

Geothermal energy to accelerate coal phase-out

Commenting on the start of drilling, Michael Pollmann, State Councillor, said: "Deep geothermal energy holds considerable potential for decarbonizing the heat supply." The pilot project in Wilhelmsburg is thus an important step towards phasing out coal in Hamburg. Although deep drilling "always holds a residual risk with regard to the discovery", based on the indications, "we are confident that the project will be successful." Drilling is expected to be completed by next August. The planned geothermal plant will then extract energy from the thermal water at the surface before returning it to the thermal layer of water underground.


Reallaboratory to serve as a blueprint

The drilling is being carried out by Energiewerke Hamburg and Hamburg Wasser. Michael Prinz, Managing Director of Energiewerke, noted: "The aim of our project is to initially contribute to an environment-friendly and sustainable heat supply in Wilhelmsburg and to serve as a blueprint for the energy transition in other cities and municipalities in northern Germany." According to the City of Hamburg, the use of geothermal energy will form the basis of IW3 alongside existing heat generators such as solar thermal energy. The aim is to achieve a virtually CO2-free supply of heat for Wilhelmsburg's residential districts.