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Merck Partners with DELTA Project for Better Energy Use in the City of Darmstadt

  • TU Darmstadt leads energy research project DELTA (Darmstädter Energie-Labor für Technologien in der Anwendung) by Darmstadt-based universities and companies
  • Sustainability in focus: a climate-friendlier energy system for the city of Darmstadt
  • Supports Merck objective of achieving climate neutrality by 2040

Merck, a leading science and technology company, today announced its membership of the living lab DELTA (Darmstadt energy laboratory for technologies in application) through which Darmstadt, the city of science, and universities and companies in Darmstadt want to create a climate-friendlier energy system and thus cut carbon dioxide (CO2). All involved project partners are to provide a total of around € 100 million for the project over the next five years. Under the leadership of the Technical University of Darmstadt (TU Darmstadt), the project participants are investigating how an existing energy system can be optimized so that Darmstadt and comparable cities can take the next steps in Germany’s transition to a new energy policy and climate neutrality. As part of the project, Merck is researching how to use its own waste heat more efficiently.

“As a science and technology company, we have set ourselves ambitious goals. By 2030, we want to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50% worldwide compared with 2020 and by 2040, we want to achieve climate neutrality. We are also aligning the energy strategy at the Darmstadt site with these goals. DELTA has the clear goal of helping to reduce emissions. I am very pleased that Merck is playing a key role in this important project,” said Kai Beckmann, Member of the Executive Board and CEO Electronics. “As a future-oriented company, we believe that financial and ecological targets go hand-in-hand. That’s why we at Merck evaluate new investments based on their significance for climate impact mitigation and sustainability. This project is about optimizing our use of resources and aligning our actions with sustainable criteria while simultaneously making an important contribution to society and the environment.  For us, this means investing today for the world of tomorrow.”

In the DELTA living lab, Merck is researching the energy-related potential of industrial low-temperature waste heat. For example, Merck is to investigate how excess waste heat can be used and new heat sources can be integrated. The objective is to generate CO2-minimized heat both internally at Merck and via the municipal energy networks and make it available. Merck will thus examine how complex thermal production processes and heating and refrigeration networks interact. They could be used particularly efficiently by being connected and controlled via digital simulations and monitoring systems.

Within the scope of the project, Merck wants to drive innovations and is planning the technical prerequisites for cross-district waste heat extraction at the local heating plant of the local electricity supplier Entega. Previously unused waste heat from cooling water networks and other sources is to be incorporated here. At the same time, Merck is planning to set up an efficient, expandable low-temperature heating network.

Smart connection of individual technologies relating to Germany’s transition to a new energy policy has a great deal of still largely untapped potential when it comes to reducing emissions. In the DELTA living lab, which has now been launched, the partners want to come together and make a significant contribution to the upcoming changes in the energy system. DELTA addresses the question of how approaches for saving CO2 in city districts can be optimally applied and interconnected, e.g. by integrating essential parts of the urban energy system, such as domestic living, industry and commerce, mobility, and renewable energy supply. Apart from technological innovations, the project will examine which drivers of digitalization, new business models and ideas for public participation can be developed for a successful transition to a new energy policy.

The DELTA team expects to be able to save around 14,500 metric tons of CO2 per year in Darmstadt. This corresponds roughly to the total carbon footprint of over 1,600 people, i.e. 1% of the population of Darmstadt. Moreover, memory technologies such as batteries and the use of hydrogen contribute to temporally synchronizing the energy supply and demand. The flexibility of the electricity grid is increasing and more time-varying renewable energies are being fed into the network. An additional flexibility potential of 4.6 MW is expected.

Professor Jens Schneider from the Institute for Structural Mechanics and Design of TU Darmstadt will coordinate the project closely with Professor Matthias Weigold from the Institute for Production Management, Technology and Machine Tools of TU Darmstadt. TU Darmstadt has already carried out successful major energy research projects while others are still ongoing (e.g. ETA-FabrikEnEFF:Stadt Campus Lichtwiese and SWIVT). Together with companies based in the city, the TU Darmstadt spin-off ETA-Solutions GmbH, which is involved in the DELTA project, and other research partners, TU Darmstadt is illustrating the potential of networked optimization of various energy subsystems (sectors). Essentially, it’s a matter of using the opportunities of the transition to a new energy policy in Germany by integrating new technologies and optimizing the usage of existing energy resources and infrastructures.

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Last Updated: 11-May-2021