IN AUSTRIA, the small town of Kirchschlag has become a role model for other municipalities since it installed its own Combined Heat and Power cascade, plus two biomass boilers, and started generating its own electricity and heat.

Fuelled by regionally sourced wood chips, Kirchschlag's publicly-owned installations now supply hundreds of households with CO2-neutral energy.

During 2020, five wood-fired power plants from the Lower Bavarian company Spanner Re² have been in operation in a combined heat and power plant built especially for the project. A thermochemical process is used to produce a particularly clean wood gas from the wood chips, which is converted into electricity in a downstream combined heat and power unit.

Also integrated into the town's energy system are two 400-kilowatt woodchip heating systems. Altogether, the facility generates approximately 6000 MWh of heat and 2700 MWh of electricity annually, consuming around 2750 tonnes of woodchips, purchased from suppliers within a radius of 30 kilometers.

All this has enabled the municipality to supply up to 675 households with green electricity and 250 households with CO2-neutral heat, provided via a district heating network with a length of more than 3400 meters of pipeline.

"The project in Kirchschlag is exemplary for sustainable energy production," said project manager at Spanner Re², Bernhard Seiler. "Our plants work decentralised and supply CO2-neutral energy – and that, adapted to the demand. We are pleased that we were able to contribute our many years of knowhow and our mature technology to this highly interesting project."

With the new energy concept, Kirchschlag is taking on a pioneering role that will serve as a model for the whole of Austria. The municipality has invested more than €3 million euros in the project. Deputy Mayor Karl Kager explained the decision to put the energy supply of the municipality on an environmentally and climate-friendly footing as follows: "The future lives on how we shape the present."