In October 2021, the two-year revitalization of the Wietersdorf power plant chain along the Görtschitz River was completed. A total of € 12 million was invested to completely rebuild two power plants and optimize another. With now 18000 MWh of electricity per year, it is possible to cover a quarter of the total electrical energy demand for the Wietersdorf cement plant with self-produced green electricity. “Thanks to extensive investments in state-of-the-art environmental technology, the Wietersdorf site is now one of the cleanest cement plants in the world. I am therefore pleased that with the opening of the revitalized power plant chain we are taking another important step towards low-CO2 cement production. But this will not be the end of the story. Together – industry and politics alike – we are called upon to think intensively today about the development of further renewable energy reserves in order to really be able to implement the green transformation,” explains Christina Fromme-Knoch, owner representative and Chairman of the Supervisory Board of the Wietersdorfer Group. With the expansion of the renewable energy supply, the Wietersdorfer Group is underlining its commitment to sustainable management and to a continuous reduction of the CO2 footprint in the sense of the Green Deal.
State policy welcomes sustainable development
At the official opening of the revitalized power plant chain, Energy and Climate Protection Provincial Councilor Sara Schaar, who was present on behalf of the Provincial Governor, emphasized the great importance of such projects for tackling climate change: “Our common goal is the energy turnaround, so that future generations also have a fair chance of a happy future in an environment worth living in. With the successful renewal of the Wietersdorf power plant chain, we have come another step closer to this goal today.” Sebastian Schuschnig, regional Councillor for Economic Affairs, was also pleased with investments in sustainable power supply at the parent plant: “Industry in Carinthia has set its sights on decarbonization as one of its core tasks. Sustainable electricity production through the power of nature is increasingly becoming a location factor.” Provincial Councilor Martin Gruber, who himself comes from a neighboring municipality, also emphasized the great value of such projects for positive development in the region: “Successful companies represent an essential driving force for employment and prosperity in rural areas. As the largest employer in the region, the Wietersdorfer Group has not only reduced its ecological footprint by revitalizing its chain of power plants, but has also clearly contributed to securing the region as a business location.” The official opening ceremony was also attended by Gabriele Dörflinger, Member of the State Parliament and Mayor of Klein St. Paul.
Three power plants supply 18000 MWh of green electricity
“With six modern Francis turbines, 18000 MWh of green electricity are generated in three power plants along the Görtschitz. This means that we can supply the Wietersdorf cement plant with a quarter of self-produced renewable energy. This is roughly equivalent to the supply capacity for 3600 4-person households,” explains Florian Salzer, Technical Director of w&p Zement and responsible for the revitalization of the Wietersdorf power plant chain. All construction measures were carried out in the period from September 2019 to October 2021. In the process, the old power plant in Wietersdorf was replaced by a new building. The two power plants in Hornburg and Eberstein were combined and also replaced by a new building. Finally, the automation technology was renewed at the third power plant in Wieting, which had already been modernized in 2016. At the power plant sites, special consideration was also given to accompanying ecological measures, such as the construction of fish ladders in the area of the weirs.
Apprentices in the middle of the action
The revitalization of the hydropower plants was also used by the company to give young employees access to exciting practical challenges. During the past two years, a total of six apprentices from the 3rd and 4th apprenticeship years in different branches of training – from plant/operations technicians to mechanical engineering technicians – have had the opportunity to use and expand their skills and knowledge in the revitalization of the hydropower plants.
Wietersdorfer products used in power plant construction
In the course of the power plant renewal, the entire product competence of the Wietersdorfer Group was deployed. For example, the 1900 m of pressure pipes installed came from the subsidiary Amiblu, which specializes in the production of fiberglass-reinforced plastic pipes. The subsidiary w&p Zement, in turn, produced the binders at the Wietersdorf site, which were further processed by w&p Beton in Klagenfurt into almost 6000 m3 of concrete, and which were installed in the construction of the powerhouses as well as the weir facilities.