Renewable energies are energy sources that regenerate naturally, for example sun, wind, water, biomass and geothermal energy.
Energy in the form of electricity, heat and liquid or solid fuel from renewable biomass is produced from energy crops grown specifically for this purpose (e.g. rape or corn) or in Axpo’s case, from wood and residual materials such as straw, crop waste, biowaste and liquid manure. Like the combustion of fossil fuels, the use of biomass energy also generates greenhouse gas emissions, but not more than the plants previously extracted from the atmosphere during their growth.
Geothermal energy uses heat from the earth's core. Energy stored in the earth can be harnessed with the help of various methods: ln most cases, a geothermal probe is used in combination with heat pumps to heat single-family homes and large buildings. Geothermal probes reach depths of 200 to 400 metres.
Geothermal heat can also be used to generate electricity. ln Switzerland, however, this requires drilling at depths of between 2,000 and 5,000 metres. The required temperatures of over 100 degrees Celsius can only be found at these depths. However, the technology is still not as mature as that of geothermal probes. Currently, Switzerland does not produce electricity from geothermal sources. Initial tests using deep drilling in Basel and St. Gallen resulted in slight earthquakes. Both projects were subsequently abandoned. There are currently further efforts to generate electricity from geothermal energy, particularly in western Switzerland.
More information on this topic can be found here:
Axpo is Switzerland’s largest producer of renewable energies. We are primarily invested in Swiss hydropower and biomass. ln the field of wind energy, we build and operate wind turbines primarily in Germany and France. Since the summer of 2019, solar energy has also become a part of our renewable activities in France and other countries.
With our customer-specific energy solutions and so-called PPAs (“Power Purchase Agreements”), a new financing model for wind and solar energy without subsidies, we are also helping to further expand climate-friendly, CO2-free energies.
ln Switzerland, hydropower remains key to Axpo. Its power plant park (in ownership or co-ownership) currently comprises approximately 60 plants (see also Locations). Another important pillar is biomass, with 15 Kompogas plants for the recycling organic waste and a woodchip-fired power plant in Domat/Ems, Switzerland’s largest biomass power plant.
ln recent years, the share of wind energy has increased significantly, both with the acquisition of an interest in the Global Tech 1 offshore wind farm and with the purchase of the wind farm development and construction company Volkswind, which has been part of Axpo since 2015. Since 2019 we are also the proud owner of another subsidiary, the French photovoltaic company Urbasolar, which realises solar energy projects in France and elsewhere.
A look into the history books indicates that Axpo began promoting renewable energies at an early stage and supported research into various technologies in this area.
ln 1990, then known as Nordostschweizerische Kraftwerke, we began working with both wind energy and photovoltaics. The three wind power plants planned on the Fläscherberg in the Canton of Grisons were not realised because no official building permit was granted. ln the same year, however, the first photovoltaic system with an output of 2.6 kW was installed on the roof of the administration building in Baden. More systems would follow. ln 1993, the solar tower planned by NOK at the Steckborn church was awarded the Swiss Solar Prize. Research and development were also promoted: The company participated in the launch of a research centre for heat pumps and became involved in geothermal research.
The sustainable energy future has long since begun at Axpo.
Axpo Kompogas (biomass) is a leading company for the dry fermentation of organic waste. With its 15 fermentation plants, 5 composting stations and mobile services in Switzerland, it recycles biowaste for over 2,500 customers (towns, municipalities, industry and commerce) to produce renewable energy and nutrient-rich natural fertilisers. Energy and fertilisers are certified with the quality label for ecologically produced products. When it comes to sustainable resource management, Axpo Kompogas is the right partner for municipalities, trade and industry.
The Federal Office for the Environment calculates that a total of 1.82 million tonnes of biowaste are generated in Switzerland each year. Contrast to pure disposal of biowaste, recycling in a Kompogas plant completes the materials cycle. Compared with composting, fermentation of one tonne of green waste reduces C02 emissions by around 200 kilograms.
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We are also sustainably present at festivals with our organic waste concept, such as the Soulfood Festival in Baden.
And here at the Grand Prix of Bern – a city run over 10 miles – it was bananas for us and the runners!
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