A German town has invested in a boost for its district heating system with an order or for a new gas engine.

The municipal utility for the town of Schwäbisch Hall in southern Germany has awarded a contract to MAN Diesel & Turbo for supply of a 7.5 MW gas engine with dual turbocharger, which will replace two existing 3 MW engines at its cogeneration plant.

The contract includes supply of the engine and ancillary equipment plus an oxidation catalytic converter and the engineering for heat extraction.

The cogen plant has supplied power and district heat to the city since 1997.

Hajo Hoops, senior sales manager with MAN’s power plants division, said Schwäbisch Hall Municipal Utilities “are pioneers in the field of the energy transformation and decentralized generation.

Hoops added that the upgrade will allow the cogeneration plant to participate in the balancing energy market as “the existing district-heating storage components allow the decoupling of electrical and thermal energy generation.”

“The new engine will achieve an electrical efficiency of 47 per cent, compared to 39 per cent with the current units,” added Gebhard Gentner, managing director of Schwäbisch Hall Municipal Utilities. “This represents a 20 per cent boost in efficiency.

“Along with state subventions for cogeneration units, this is the precondition for operating the plant economically.”

Gentner also pointed to the new system’s energy utilization rate of around 90 per cent.

“High-efficiency technologies such as heat/power cogeneration make an important contribution to controllable power generation in the context of the energy transformation,” he said, noting that  Schwäbisch Hall Municipal Utilities operate more than 50 cogeneration units at 30 sites.