Long before the federal regulations on CO2 neutrality come into force in 2050, we are already climate-friendly – thanks to a lighthouse project unique in all of Switzerland. The introduction of a new woodchip heating system reduces our CO2 emissions by a total of 2,500 tons per year.

Forests cover large areas of the Seerücken ridge south of Lake Constance. The woods perform some important tasks, providing a welcome habitat for animals and plants, while also making a valuable contribution to our natural environment. And since late autumn 2019 the forestland has also been the source of important raw materials for Biotta. With our new woodchip heating system, we rely entirely on the regenerative raw material of wood from the region to generate energy. Parts of the trees that are not usable as valuable timber (branches, treetops, malformed trunks) are chopped up and fed into the combustion process as untreated forest wood. The annual timber growth in the entire canton of Thurgau amounts to 175,000 cubic metres, enough to fill 70 Olympic-size swimming pools. The new woodchip heating system uses around three per cent of that amount, or 5,350 cubic metres of cut wood per year.

Working together for greater sustainability

As a Swiss organic pioneer, Biotta wanted to replace heating oil as an energy source due to the high amount of CO2 it produces. The heating system had to be updated anyway, so the timing was ideal. By chance, the neighbouring company Rathgeb Bio was also looking for the most economical way to generate heat using renewable energies. The two companies share a focus on organic agriculture and the pursuit of innovative, sustainable solutions, so the decision to work together on this project came easily. From its founding in 1957 until today, respect for nature and people has always been a central principle for Biotta. This sense of who we are guides all of our entrepreneurial decisions. “Our WHY Biotta puts into words the corporate philosophy we have lived by for decades. Our organic orientation laid the cornerstone for this philosophy – and converting our plant to a more sustainable energy source today is the logical consequence,” says Clemens Rüttimann, Managing Director of Biotta. Thanks to the latest technology, the new woodchip heating system saves a total of 2,500 tons of CO2 per year.

State-of-the-art technology

The woodchip heating system has a nominal capacity of 2.4 megawatts (MW). In comparison, this would be enough energy to make 168,000 cups of coffees, listen to the radio for 240,000 hours, or work on a laptop for 120,000 hours. An upstream control system ensures that the system always delivers the desired amount of heat, taking into account the amount of energy required and the effects of the weather. To recover the energy contained in the exhaust, the flue gases are condensed and then cleaned in a wet electrostatic precipitator. As a result, the level of fine particulate matter that remains is well under the legal limit. The system also complies with all other limit values. And all that rises out of the chimney is water vapour.

According to Clemens Rüttimann, the woodchip heating system meets Biotta’s internally defined environmental sustainability targets – green energy and less CO2. With this “project for future generations”, as he calls it, Biotta has dedicated itself to protecting the climate and is in a position to pursue far into the future the ecological vision that has always shaped the company in the spirit of WHY Biotta.