Planning for the plant began as early as 2021. Our annual heating energy demand is 750,000 kWh. The oldest boilers in the old gas system date back to 1985. We expect the new heating system to make much more efficient use of energy. However, a heat pump would not have been suitable to replace the current gas heating system because of the high flow temperatures we need for some of our buildings. This would have resulted in a lower efficiency of the heat pump, which would have required significantly more electricity to run it. In order to ensure high efficiency of the pellet heating system and to enable constant operation, the heat generated by the heating system is therefore initially to be delivered to four water buffer tanks, each with a capacity of 4,000 litres, and from there supplied to the heating circuits in a controlled manner.

A pellet heating system was also chosen for sustainability reasons. The production of the pellets supports the regional circular economy: We use pellets from a local pellet factory. No trees are cut down for the production of pellets, which are made from waste wood from sawmills in the northern Black Forest. This means that, unlike fossil fuel gas, our new heating system only releases as much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as the wood absorbed during its growth.

Sustainable management of commercial forests has a long tradition in the northern Black Forest. At the end of the 18th century, however, the situation was very different: At that time, the Black Forest consisted largely of grassland and scrubland, as the forest was overexploited. This was mainly due to the massive trade in timber, which was used to build towns and ships, but also to the hunger for wood of local industries such as glassworks, ironworks and charcoal kilns. The forest was on the verge of destruction. This finally forced people to change their attitudes, as they realised that they were depriving themselves of their own livelihoods by over-exploiting the local forests. A massive reforestation programme was launched and the principle was introduced that only as much wood should be taken from the forest as can grow back.

By switching to a sustainable pellet heating system powered by local wood waste, the Berthold family business is once again standing by its roots in the Black Forest and remaining true to its principle of combining economic growth with ecological awareness.