Progress is impossible without change: the words of 19th-century British naturalist Charles Darwin ring truer today than ever before. Companies from a wide range of industries in Saxony-Anhalt are preparing for the future and, among other things, providing solutions for all aspects of the energy transition. G+E GETEC Holding GmbH from Saxony-Anhalt is a perfect example of the way in which innovative companies here are doing business and already setting out on their future path.
Some of the most famous firms in the world were founded in garages. The GETEC success story had its origins in a building used for storing equipment. The founder of the company, Dr. Karl Gerhold, turned his visions into reality in an old construction site hut. He started out in 1993 with three employees and developed the first heating concepts for Magdeburg, the capital of the state of Saxony-Anhalt. He introduced the model of “heat contracting”, which was relatively unknown at the time, to the real estate sector. Nowadays, G+E GETEC Holding GmbH is one of the leading suppliers of smart, efficient green energy solutions for industry and real estate in Germany and across Europe, employing around 1500 people at 40 sites and with a turnover of approximately 700 million euros. Three years ago, Karl Gerhold sold his majority share in the company to the Swedish investment firm EQT Infrastructure. “Although a lot of things have changed, the desire to introduce innovations and the vision and the courage to think ahead and take action, as the company’s founder did, still drive everything we do today,” says Thomas Wagner, CEO of GETEC. The company’s marketing tagline “We have the energy for more”, which was introduced a year ago, sums up how GETEC works and how it guides its customers through the increasingly complex world of energy. Its business is all about energy efficiency, sustainability and reducing CO₂ emissions. The focus is on energy, which is also needed by its specialist staff to develop innovative energy concepts for well-known chemical companies, for example, involving the recovery of energy from waste.
Waste-to-value Recovering energy from waste and harmful gases
In Romania, GETEC is currently putting the waste-to-value principle into practice for the chemical company Clariant. In the town of Podari, the GETEC Group is building a CO₂-neutral biomass combined heat and power plant alongside the facility that Clariant is constructing to manufacture biofuels. The special feature of the new set-up is that Clariant is producing bioethanol from agricultural waste, such as wheat straw. The bioethanol can be used as fuel or as the basis for a variety of chemical products. “GETEC is using lignin, which is the waste product from this process, to generate heat and electricity for the entire production site. This is doubly innovative and doubly sustainable,” explains Christian Faßelt, Head of Corporate and Marketing Communications at GETEC. Thomas Wagner adds: “The joint project represents waste-to-value in its purest form. It is tomorrow’s technology that is already being used today. We see it as our mission to help customers like Clariant to move toward zero impact production.” The project is already attracting positive attention. In 2019, GETEC won the international dena Energy Efficiency Award in the category “Concepts for improving energy efficiency” for this project.
Innovative neighborhood concept in Hanau has been developed in Magdeburg
The company’s project in the town of Hanau in the German state of Hessen is also arousing widespread interest. This involves the development of a “neighborhood of the future.” Together with the municipal utility company, a team from GETEC is putting in place the infrastructure for the huge Pioneer Park, including heating, cooling, electricity, broadband, smart buildings, local grids, CO₂ monitoring and electric mobility. The partners have developed a comprehensive energy and mobility concept for the former U.S. military base. Around 1600 homes for up to 5000 people will be built on the site, which covers an area equivalent to 70 soccer pitches. They will be supplied with efficient, climate-friendly energy using a concept based on three combined heat and power plants, condensing boilers and heat pumps, with additional electricity being generated by photovoltaic systems.
Sustainability takes center stage at the Basel industrial park
GETEC specializes in thinking outside the box. A long way from Hanau, in the Swiss town of Muttenz near Basel, the focus has been on sustainability, zero impact production and efficient service provision for the last two years. There the GETEC PARK.SWISS, which has been created from two former industrial parks, is a production and competence cluster for the life sciences and chemical industries. Under the management of the company from Saxony-Anhalt, an industrial complex has been set up that brings together international companies involved in research, development and production. These firms have a large pool of talented and highly trained employees at their disposal in the region. Alongside all the new technologies and innovative concepts, the workforce always plays a very important role in GETEC’s activities. “We’re nothing without our employees, without all the outstanding engineering achievements and without the thinkers and doers,” says Thomas Wagner.
And according to the CEO, the company’s parent site in Magdeburg is “just as important”: “This is where our roots are and where we have everything that we need to stay at the cutting edge, whether it’s research or recruiting specialist staff.” One of the benefits of the location in the capital of Saxony-Anhalt is the close contact with Otto von Guericke University. Employees give lectures, recruit talented young people and promote the transfer of knowledge in both directions. Ideas for the future are “never discarded immediately, but always checked out first.” “Our history has taught us to believe in our visions, however improbable they may sound,” says Thomas Wagner. GETEC’s visions are being turned into reality in the region, for example in the Chemical and Industry Park Zeitz, where it is supplying several companies with heat from combined heat and power plants and developing solutions for reusing the harmful nitrous oxide gas produced by the chemical company Radici. It is also involved in other projects throughout Germany and across Europe.
Author: Manuela Bock/IMG Saxony-Anhalt