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Bio-Ortswärme Seefeld: Green energy from biomass

30. October 2020

If you take the main road to Seefeld, you will pass an inconspicuous building in green on the way: The Bio-Ortswärme Seefeld (Bio-Teleheating Seefeld). Here, heat and sustainable green electricity are produced from regional biomass for numerous households and businesses in the region. Managing director and energy specialist Dipl. Ing. Andreas Glatzl grants a look behind the scenes of the environmentally friendly local heating facility in Seefeld.

It is a warm and sunny autumn day in Seefeld when Chief Engineer Andreas Glatzl welcomes us in the courtyard of the sixteen meter high kiln. Twenty impressive years of experience with renewable energies, fourteen of them as the managing director of the Seefeld local teleheating plant – the man burns with passion for the environment. Just as he introduces us to the huge weather-protected outdoor storage areas, a heavy container truck rolls into the docking bay and brings fresh biomass for the boilers. For a moment we marvel like little children as the transporter piles up tons of wood chips to fragrant mountains of timber, then we follow the production chain inside.

 

Inferno veritas.

This is where the eternal hellfires of Seefeld are always burning – yet completely sin-free, emphasizes Mr. Glatzl grinning and points to the highly complex exhaust filter technology. After fourfold (electro-)filtering, no visible smoke comes out of the chimney – even the waste heat from the exhaust gases is utilized here. Through a small hatch, the inferno flares towards us at a good 800 degrees, and we sway between goose bumps and sweating in awe. With the waste heat of the impressive combustion chamber the thermal oil plant (uses a special oil as heat carrier) produces a swell 6,500 kilowatts of heat energy from biomass altogether. This energy is then transported via a kilometer-long, specially insulated pipe system to all the end users in the village.

With the highest density of wellness-venues in the alpine region heat-demand stacks to an impressive amount in the Olympiaregion, calculates the managing director descriptively. Today, most of the local large-scale enterprises are using the environmentally friendly energy of the Bio-Ortswärme Seefeld. Since 2017 the heating plant also produces green electricity for a good 1.100 housholds throughout the region.

 

Sustainably competitive.

Both in terms of price and energy supply, the company remains highly competitive, as the advantages of the local bio-fuel plant are passed on directly to the end customers thanks to short delivery routes and efficient control systems. In the beginning, the idea required some serious persuasion efforts, chief engineer Andreas Glatzl remembers the initial founding phase. Together with Mayor Werner Frießer, Edi Hiltpolt and Markus Gapp, the joint vision of a sustainable energy solution for Seefeld was born at the beginning of 2006: “Initially there was the idea to build a small wood chip heating system for the new Sport- und Kongresszentrum (SKZ), but we went home with the vision of creating something bigger,” recalls the Managing Director. “The aim was to combine ecology and economy on the sunny plateau in a sensible and sustainable circle-economy – future-proof and expandable.”

And indeed: Beside warmth from biomass the heating plant today also provides green electricity from small hydro-electric power stations and solar energy farms. And wherever some biomass accumulates privately (with tree and garden work for instance), the Bio-Ortswärme Seefeld on request will send a complimentary pickup-service to feed the furnaces at the federal highway.

 

Think big for business.

The most important thing for the customers is safety and service convenience – an essentially  important aspect at the Seefeld bio-energy plant, explains chief technician Glatzl in the systems major control room. There is always someone on call here, around the clock, even on public holidays of course. In the 14 years of operation, there has not been a single unplanned malfunction, it’s something to be proud of. The high-tech system furthermore runs completely automated and can be remotely controlled and monitored. So even when on the road the supervising technicians can monitor all processes securely encrypted and in real time.

Ultimately sustainability expert is utterly pleased that the environmentally friendly energy solution in Seefeld today is almost taken for granted. One of his favourite things to do is climb onto the flat roof of the plant, take a look far over Seefeld and also a little look back: “Nothing is as strong as an idea whose time has come.”, grins Glatzl.


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Pics: Chris Weittenhiller

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