Decarbonization of coal-fired power plant: Minister Thekla Walker catches up on the progress

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The Minister of the Environment, Climate Protection, and Energy of the State of Baden-Württemberg, Thekla Walker, visited the Koehler Group’s headquarters in Oberkirch in order to learn more about the company’s environmental and climate strategy. Its existing coal-fired power plant in Oberkirch is currently being converted in order to use environmentally friendly biomass, with the work slated for completion by the fall of 2024. This change is expected to reduce future CO2 emissions at the site by 150,000 metric tons a year.

In order to take biomass and use it to produce the energy required to make a variety of special paper products in Oberkirch going forward, the Koehler Group has invested over 70 million euros. The existing power plant, which was built in 1986, is being adapted for the new fuel through various conversion measures. In addition, two collection points for unloading trucks and corresponding silos will be built. In future, Koehler will use wood chips, green waste, and mill residue as fuel. The advantage of using biomass as a fuel is not only the fact that it is carbon neutral, but also that it is widely available. In fact, only natural wood that comes from the surrounding region and that is at the end of its usability as a material will be used. Moreover, the short distances involved in the corresponding logistics mean that the Koehler Group will be reducing its carbon footprint even more.

Minister Walker impressed by the Koehler Group’s forward-looking plans

During a tour of the power plant construction site, Hartmut Felsch, the mill director at the Koehler Paper site in Oberkirch, provided an update on the current construction progress. Minister Walker appeared impressed: “The Koehler Group is a great example of how sustainability and profitability can go hand in hand. They’re well on their way to leaving fossil fuels behind and adopting renewable energies instead, all while securing their own future as a result. In other words, the Koehler Group is showing how energy-intensive companies in the business hub of Baden-Württemberg can tackle this transition successfully as well.” In short, sustainability pays off in the long term.