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Energy supply at the University of Cologne

Where do electricity and heat come from?

The supply of energy for research, teaching, and support tasks is organized in different ways at the University of Cologne. Basically, two components can be distinguished:

Externally purchased energy includes the supply of energy sources such as gas, heating oil, and solid fuels as well as the already converted forms of energy such as electricity and heat, the latter e.g. in the form of district heating.

Self-produced energy includes energy that is produced without (e.g. photovoltaics) or with (combined heat and power unit – CHP) additional primary or secondary energy.

It is important for this system analysis that the university also acts as an energy supplier when energy is provided for external facilities, such as affiliated institutes, facilities of the Studierendenwerk (student halls of residence, for example).

External procurement of energy

The University of Cologne obtains a small proportion of its energy in the form of fuels such as gas or heating oil and a much larger proportion as final energy in the form of electricity and district heating.

A decrease in electricity and district heating consumption in 2020 and a significant increase in the consumption of natural gas and heating oil can be observed. The decrease in electricity and district heating was likely due to the coronavirus pandemic. The increase in natural gas and heating oil may have been caused by rented premises. In principle, when evaluating heat-related energy consumption, adjustments in light of actual weather conditions and temperatures should be taken into account.

In total, approximately 105 GWh of energy was purchased for the operation of buildings and technical equipment in 2019 (for this year, the data was largely complete) (this also includes the energy shares that are not used by the university itself, but are passed on to external parties).


Self-generated energy at the University of Cologne

The University of Cologne partly  generates its own heating energy (in boilers using natural gas and heating oil). The amount of self-production in the years under consideration is between 2,600 and 3,100 MWh. Interesting here is the increase in heat generation in the year of the coronavirus pandemic – in contrast to the decline in district heating.

Photovoltaic systems are currently under construction or in planning. A system for the zoology department (building 891) in Rees with 28 kWp is currently being built. A system with 205 kWp is being planned for the Student Service Centre (SSC) (building 102). Furthermore, renewable forms of energy are also planned for the new Geosciences Building. Further photovoltaic systems are planned for new buildings and after roofs have been upgraded.


Green electricity

As a consequence of the UoC’s divestment strategy from carbon-intensive energy a call for tenders in 2021 led to the purchasing of approximately 45,600 MWh of certified green electricity (154 points of delivery) from Enercity AG. The supply is 100 per cent renewable energy (generated from hydroelectric power, mainly from Scandinavian plants).


Sustainable district heating

The University of Cologne obtains an average of 51,000 MWh per year, or 93 per cent of its heating energy, from highly efficient district heating generated by cogeneration with an efficiency of over 85 per cent. 

Rheinenergie, as the producer of our district heating, plans to fully decarbonize its electricity and heat supply by 2035.

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