12.05.2021 | CKW: Solar contracting for chocolate manufacturer Aeschbach Chocolatier AG

Solar power for sweets

Since last year, the production lines and packaging machines at Aeschbach have been running just a tick more environmentally friendly: The chocolate manufacturer located in Root, Lucerne, was able to put a new photovoltaic plant into operation through contracting with the Axpo subsidiary CKW.

Anyone who has grown up in Switzerland is likely to have sold them as a child: We're talking about Schoggitalern (chocolate thalers) that school children have been selling for a good cause since 1946. Proceeds go to projects launched by Pro Natura and the Swiss Heritage Society. Since the mid-eighties, the thalers are manufactured by Aeschbach Chocolatier AG in Central Switzerland.

The chocolate thalers are just one of many products offered by the company. "Overall we produce about 900 tonnes of different chocolate products," says Jürg Rogenmoser, Chief Operating Officer at the company. Customers include bakers, confectioners and cafés all over Switzerland.

Aeschbach Chocolatier produced its products in Cham for nearly 40 years. Owing to growing demand, space became limited and the building no longer fulfilled the requirements of a state-of-the-art chocolate producing facility. 

The new Aeschbach building in Root does not use any fossil energy sources.
Environmentally friendly building

When a site in Root, Lucerne came up for sale, Aeschbach seized the opportunity to build a new headquarters there. In 2012, the operation with about 100 employees moved from Cham a few kilometres to the south. "The new building in Root  has lots of advantages," says Rogenmoser, who runs the company together with Markus Aeschbach. "Thanks to the heat pump, we can heat and cool the building with energy from the groundwater. As a result we do not use any fossil energy sources."

One small drawback at the time of construction was that the photovoltaic plant was not possible although it had been planned. Aeschbach designed the roof load so that a photovoltaic plant could be installed. However, because various production machines had to be modernised, the investment budget did not have sufficient funds available for a PV plant.

Chief Operating Officer Jürg Rogenmoser with the new solar plant on the roof of Aeschbach headquarters.
Contracting as an efficient solution

A few years later, the photovoltaic plant on the roof of Aeschbach headquarters became a reality. This was made possible through solar contracting with CKW, an Axpo subsidiary. Under this contract model, CKW installed and operates the photovoltaic plant on behalf of its customer at its own risk.

In return, the customer procures power at a fixed price for a term defined in the contract. When the term is up, the plant is turned over to the customer at no cost. The customer has the possibility to buy back the plant at an earlier point in time for a pre-defined residual value. Thanks to contracting, the company has the opportunity to build and operate an efficient solar plant without an major preliminary investment.

The solar plant covers 20 percent of Aeschbach's annual power consumption.
Premature buy back right for photovoltaic plant

"We are chocolate specialists, not power specialists," points out Rogenmoser, who is a professional confectioner and the COO, and has worked for the company for 30 years. "As a bulk customer with a long-term supply contract we have already worked successfully with CKW for many years, so we also wanted to realise the plant with CKW as our partner."

Under solar contracting, CKW took over the planning for the plant in Root – from tendering to construction, to commissioning in the spring of 2020. According to Rogenmoser, Aeschbach wants to take advantage of the plant buy back option before the contract expires.

The new photovoltaic plant is the dot on the "i" of our new, environmentally-friendly building.
Jürg Rogenmoser, COO Aeschbach Chocolatier AG
Photovoltaic power for captive use

Our production is energy intensive," says Rogenmoser. The company uses nearly all the power from the photovoltaic plant realised through solar contracting. Calculated over the entire year, it covers at least 20 per cent of power requirements. During sunny summer months the volume is over 30 per cent.

The plant has been in operation for nearly a year. "There were no technical problems and it works perfectly," Rogenmoser sums up. "The new photovoltaic plant is the dot on the "i" of our new, environmentally-friendly building."

CKW solar contracting for your company

With CKW solar contracting, we build and operate a tailored photovoltaic plant for you on the roof of your building. The plant covers up to 30 per cent of your annual power requirements with environmentally friendly solar power, and thanks to the agreed on long-term fixed price you are not exposed to increasing energy prices. More information on CKW solar contracting 

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