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  • Dear Readers!

    If truth be told, we had all been hoping that we would no longer have to talk about Covid by spring 2021. Who would have thought that we would be spending a second Easter and a second Ramadan with no end to the pandemic in sight? The longer this situation continues, the more difficult it is to maintain the public and personal discipline needed to fight the pandemic. People are weary. They are fed up with having to go from one lockdown to the next with there being no real prospects of life returning to normal. And while infection rates continue to rise no matter what restrictions are put in place, the country’s normally reliable federalist system is beginning to reveal some weaknesses. Is it really helpful that the measures taken to tackle this global threat are decided on at federal state level? On the other hand, why should public life grind to a halt in a sparsely populated region with a low two-figure infection rate just because the number of people catching the virus is rising exponentially in an area several hundred kilometres away? There are no simple answers but at least we are fortunate to have almost 27,000 ICU beds here in Germany and are better prepared for the situation than many other countries. However, being forced to focus almost entirely on treating Covid patients, hospitals are finding themselves in a difficult financial position – to say nothing of the huge and constant stress levels that the ICU healthcare professionals are having to cope with. At least the Covid measures have led to a dramatic decline in all other kinds of respiratory illnesses. Fortunately, the strict hygiene measures have meant that we have not had to deal with a flu epidemic this year.

    The world tends to view Germans as being both extremely organised and efficient. Some may be reconsidering their opinion, though, looking at the speed – or lack of speed – vaccinations are being rolled out. Which once again brings us back to the subject of using the private sector to deliver essential services. Here, too, many problems could have been prevented right from the start if politicians had taken up the help offered by the private sector to support the vaccination campaign. It can be assumed that an international online ticket seller, one able to sell millions of tickets for rock festivals or worldwide concert tours within just a few hours, would be able to organise online vaccination appointments faster and more efficiently than the overworked local health authorities with their outdated IT systems – and certainly without their website crashing or without them having to develop new software first. Such offers, however, have been taken up by just a few individual public health offices and then only belatedly.

    Are things running more smoothly in the circular economy? This latest issue of REMONDIS aktuell takes a closer look at the differences between rural districts and cities. It is, above all, the rural district authorities that turn to the private sector for help in providing a number of services – both in the circular economy as well as in the area of water and wastewater management. This approach not only promises to deliver the best services at sensible prices. It also has a major impact on how efficient their sustainability efforts actually are. With local authorities facing both an increased financial burden caused by the pandemic and an urgent need to renovate their infrastructure, it is well worth taking a closer look at the situation. 22% of local councillors believe that their local business tax revenue will be at least 10% lower in 2021 than it was in 2019. The majority of district and town councils, 64% to be precise, are planning to increase their local taxes and/or charges. There is certainly room for them to optimise their business operations in the area of cost-intensive key services, such as waste and water management, by systematically putting these services out to tender, extending their PPP arrangements or founding a new PPP company.

    We hope you enjoy reading this latest issue. Stay safe!

    Yours, Ludger Rethmann

New service added to electricity, gas and water

  • The City of Lüdenscheid’s utilities company, Stadtwerke Lüdenscheid (a company belonging to the ENERVIE Group), began 2021 by extending its range of services for its customers. Besides offering electricity, gas and drinking water, it is now also delivering district heat to Lüdenscheid-Wehberg, which has had access to district heat since 1969. This new service was made possible as Fernwärmeversorgung Niederrhein – the company which had previously been responsible for this task – had sold all of its technical facilities and its customer base to Stadtwerke Lüdenscheid.

A sensible extension to the portfolio

As far as the ENERVIE Group is concerned, it made to sense to acquire this business as it has helped to round off its portfolio. Board spokesperson, Erik Höhne, commented: “This purchase is a further milestone in our regional strategy. The environmentally friendly supply of district heat based on natural gas and the cogeneration of heat and power is an important business for our Group – especially as we already operate district heat networks in nearby Hagen and Herdecke. It’s great that we have been given this opportunity to supply heat to our customers in Lüdenscheid as well.”

“Being a regional provider of electricity, gas, water and heat, Stadtwerke Lüdenscheid has been interested in taking over the district heat supply in Lüdenscheid-Wehberg for a long while now.”

Volker Neumann, the future managing director of Stadtwerke Lüdenscheid

15 gigawatt hours of heat every year

  • Besides purchasing the infrastructure from Wärmeversorgung Niederrhein, Stadtwerke Lüdenscheid has also taken over all of its 320 customers. When he signed the contract on 17 December 2020, Volker Neumann, the future managing director of Stadtwerke Lüdenscheid, was grateful to have finally fulfilled a long-standing wish: “Being a regional provider of electricity, gas, water and heat, Stadtwerke Lüdenscheid has been interested in taking over the district heat supply in Lüdenscheid-Wehberg for a long while now.” This 10.4km network is supplied with district heat by a combined heat and power (CHP) plant, which has two boilers and an electrical output of 500kW and a thermal output of 560kW. Each year, this system is able to supply around 15 gigawatt hours of heat to its customers.

The challenge of the energy transition

  • The ENERVIE Group, in which REMONDIS Wasser Energie is one of the main shareholders alongside the City of Hagen and the City of Lüdenscheid, is pursuing its goal of driving forward the energy transition in its region. The local generation of district heat is an important cornerstone in this strategy as it is both efficient and environmentally friendly. Not only is it a clean solution, it is also a reliable source of energy with low operating and maintenance costs.

    The CHP plant used to supply Lüdenscheid-Wehberg is particularly efficient as it simultaneously generates electricity and heat from natural gas. This considerably reduces its carbon footprint – also in comparison to oil, gas and wood pellet heating systems.

    • Signing the contract on 17 December 2020 at Stadtwerke Lüdenscheid’s offices (from right to left): Volker Neumann, future managing director of Stadtwerke Lüdenscheid, Erik Höhne, ENERVIE Board Spokesperson, Dr Daniel Dierich, Authorised Signatory/Commercial Manager of Stadtwerke Dinslaken, (seated), Tobias Schwermer, Authorised Signatory and Head of Sales/Legal at Stadtwerke Dinslaken (standing)

Making the most of synergies

Integrating Fernwärme Lüdenscheid-Wehberg into the ENERVIE Group’s supply network has brought benefits for everyone. Stadtwerke Lüdenscheid has further strengthened its position on its local market and can use the already established sales and customer service structures. At the same time, it can make the most of the ENERVIE Group’s comprehensive know-how, gained from operating the district heat networks in Hagen and Herdecke for so many years. Both the customers and shareholders will benefit from the business and technical synergies. As, of course, will the climate.

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