Determining the potential of waste heat in Berlin

Berlin has set itself the goal of becoming climate-neutral by 2045 at the latest. Currently, just under half of Berlin's CO2 emissions are attributable to the heating sector (including process heat). In the future, the heat supply is to be provided through the comprehensive utilisation of renewable heat and waste heat. The study "Determining the potential of waste heat in Berlin" provides an important foundation for this transformation.

Waste heat as a component of defossilisation

The integration of unavoidable waste heat into heating networks can contribute to the defossilisation of Berlin's heat supply. It has not yet been possible to quantify the potential contribution of waste heat to the heating transition, as the potential for waste heat in Berlin was not known beyond rough estimates. In addition to the amount of waste heat, this also applies to the location and characteristics of the waste heat potential, such as temperature level and annual profile, which influence the usability of the waste heat.

Potential analysis, measures & specialist workshops

The Institute for Ecological Economy Research (IÖW) and the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research Heidelberg (ifeu) have carried out a potential analysis on behalf of the Senate Department for Mobility, Transport, Climate Protection and the Environment (SenMVKU) in order to quantify and localise the potential for waste heat in the capital. To this end, a company survey was conducted and supplemented by interviews and other data sources. Measures were also developed to tap waste heat for internal and external utilisation. Two specialist workshops were held to involve representatives from Berlin companies with waste heat potential, heating network operators, the administration and the energy services sector in the process and to raise awareness of the topic of waste heat utilisation.

Berlin waste heat: diverse and distributed on a small scale

The sources of waste heat can be diverse. For example, waste heat can be generated in manufacturing companies, as well as in parts of the service sector, such as commercial kitchens, laundries and swimming pools. Waste heat is also generated in underground railway stations and tunnels as well as in substations. In the future, Berlin is expected to have greater potential for waste heat in hydrogen production and in the growing market for data centres. The potential analysis also examined the areas of residual heat in flue gas from waste incineration and combined heat and power (CHP) plants as well as wastewater heat, even if these heat sources are not considered waste heat by definition. Due to the expected increase in capacity in data centres and hydrogen production, the potential will increase from around 1.2 TWh per year in the status quo to around 3.8 TWh in 2045.


January 2023 – September 2023


Senate Department for Mobility, Transport, Climate Protection and the Environment (SenMVKU)


Institute for Ecological Economy Research (IÖW) GmbH, non-profit organisation.


Final report (in German): Abschlussbericht (pdf, 5 KB)