Vattenfall is seeking to grow its presence in the German heating market, with district heat networks in Berlin and Hamburg to the fore in its planning.

Chief Financial Officer Stefan Dohler told Reuters the Swedish state-owned utility will expand both its heat and wind power operations in the country as it recalibrates the German business following its departure from coal power last year.
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Dohler said it will invest $220 million in Berlin’s power grid in 2017, seeking German retail energy clients who like the green about-turn and can be enlisted online.

“We have a strong position in Germany … We want to grow here,” he said, adding that this year and next Vattenfall plans to invest $1.2 billion in Germany.

In 2016, “we added 100,000 power customers for the third year in a row and also won 100,000 gas accounts.”

He said 25,000 heat customers were added bringing the customer total in power and gas to 3.4 million and in heat to 1.7 million.

District heating networks, prominent in Berlin and Hamburg, would be expanded to transport heat from combined heat and power plants into homes, according to the CFO, who also said these could ultimately be run on renewable power turned into hydrogen or synthetic gas.

Surplus heat from Hamburg’s metals industry could be stored in the networks in new business models.

Vattenfall has invested over EUR300m in a cogeneration plant in Berlin providing mainly heat, which in a first step will replace coal feeds with natural gas.