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Powerful 2nd Act for Nazi Bunker

Friday, February 14, 2014

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Seventy years after its service to Germany's Third Reich, an air-raid bunker in Hamburg has morphed into an energy plant serving thousands of homes.

Abandoned and nearly unused since the end of the war, the Wilhelmsburg monument has been converted by IBA Hamburg GmbH into a power plant using renewable forms of energy, with a large heat reservoir.

The plant supplies about 4,000 homes "with climate-friendly heat, while feeding renewable power into the Hamburg distribution grid," the company explains in a project description on its website.

Valor and War

The bunker on Neuhöfer Strasse was built in 1943 "to demonstrate the supposed valor of the home front," says IBA Hamburg.

IBA Hamburg offers viewers a look at its Nazi-bunker-turned-green-energy plant.

Thousands of people sought shelter from Allied bombing raids in that bunker and a similar one in St. Pauli, the company said.

"With its flak towers, the bunker also formed part of the German war machine," according to IBA Hamburg.

In 1947, the British Army gutted the bunker's interior in a controlled demolition that collapsed six of the eight floors and left the rest too dangerous to access. The structure's outer shell, with walls up to three meters thick and ceilings up to four meters thick, remained almost intact, however, the company said.

Green Power

Powered by a combination of solar energy, biogas, wood chips, and waste heat from a nearby industrial plant, the plant now supplies heat for about 3,000 households and electricity for about 1,000.

The large heat reservoir built inside the former air raid bunker will transform the building into an “Energy Bunker” in the years to come, capable of supplying a district covering an area of more than 1.2 square kilometres, the company said.

Energy Bunker
Photos: IBA Hamburg GmbH / Martin Kunze

A former flak tower is now a cafe offering panoramic views of the city and harbor.

The most innovative feature, developers say, is a buffer storage facility with an expected total capacity of 2 million litres (2,000 cubic metres), which will sharply reduce thermal generation demands.

Developers call the concept the first of its kind worldwide; an expansion is already under study.

The project cost about €27 million ($36.9 million USD), including about €11.7 million ($15.9 million USD) for the technology, officials said.

Energy Bunker

The project cost about $36.9 million, including about $4.2 million from the European Union.

This project received about €3.1 million ($4.2 million USD) from the European Union's European Regional Development Fund.

Telling the Story

Meanwhile, the bunker, which had been in danger of collapsing, is being renovated and preserved as a monument as part of the Internationale Bauausstellung IBA Hamburg (International Building Exhibition).

One of its flak towers has become a cafe offering a 360-degree view of Hamburg, the city's harbor, and the Harburg Hills.

IBA Hamburg has worked with the Geschichtswerkstatt Wilhelmsburg (Wilhelmsburg & Harbour History Workshop) to create an exhibit focusing on the bunker's history since construction.


Tagged categories: Construction; Energy efficiency; Historic Structures; Power Plants; Solar energy

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