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There are changes happening in Altena, a small town situated in the Sauerland region. Watched over by Altena Castle, it definitely has a more modern feel – both in its streets and on its promenade along the Lenne river. Hendrik Voß, head of the municipal utilities company (Stadtwerke), believes it is also one of his tasks to help develop Altena and make it more attractive.
A number of measures have been taken to modernise Altena’s energy management system, beginning with the construction of a new combined heat and power (CHP) plant in 2016. Now up and running, this facility is proving to be both more reliant and considerably more efficient than its predecessor. What’s more, it is able to cut CO2 emissions by 42 tonnes every year. The heat generated by the CHP plant is used to produce warm water for and heat the surrounding buildings; the electricity is supplied to the utility company’s head office building. Moreover, it powers the buildings’ outdoor lighting system, which has been completely converted to LED lighting, and will even be used to recharge the utility company’s electric vehicles in the future.
The Stadtwerke is planning to procure its first electric cars this year. Two electric box trucks will replace the diesel-run vehicles currently being used by the Stadtwerke engineers. “Our employees have already tested the trucks and they were very happy with them,” commented managing director, Hendrik Voß. This means that the capacity of the CHP plant can be further optimised. Its significance for the climate is an important argument for Voß as well: “Generating electricity from natural gas has an even better carbon footprint than the average electricity mix here in Germany,” he explained.
Altena’s utilities company has signed up to a voluntary scheme in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia that compares the performance of different companies to improve water supply.
The utilities company has been deploying a digital water distribution management system for two years now to ensure the town has all the drinking water it needs – no matter how dry the weather. This system guarantees that all of Altena’s water requirements can be covered, even in an extreme drought. Modern IT is used here to record data about the water levels in the reservoir and the water pressure in the different suburbs so that the water can be distributed around the town in the best possible way.
“Digitisation and climate action are two topics that the energy and water management sectors can bring together and unite. Our latest figures underline our commitment to our region. More than 70 cents of every euro the Stadtwerke Altena receives remain in the region. That is sustainability as well,” commented Stadtwerke managing director Hendrik Voß, underlining the philosophy of this local utilities company.