05/10/2017 Liebherr Machines Bulle SA and Gruyère Energie SA enter partnership in energy sector

Festive project launch at the heat station of Gruyère Energie SA.

Festive project launch at the heat station of Gruyère Energie SA.

(from left to right: Benoît Revaz (Director of Swiss Federal Office of Energy SFOE), Maurice Ropraz (Government Counsellor Fribourg), Stéfanie Wohlfarth (Member of the administrative board of Liebherr-International AG), Claude Ambrosini (CEO of LMB), Olivier Curty (Government Counsellor Fribourg), Raoul Girard (Deputy Mayor Bulle), Claude Thürler (CEO of GESA))

The focus of the innovative partnership between Liebherr Machines Bulle SA and Gruyère Energie SA (GESA) is on heat recovery and recycling, as well as the development of a district heating network.

As part of a new investment plan, the existing infrastructures on the production site in Bulle have been undergoing transformation and optimisation since 2013. This includes, among other things, the installation of new test beds for diesel and gas engines. Through these large quantities of waste heat are generated (approximately 10 GWh). These can be effectively used, for example, on the industrial site directly, or in a district heating network.

In parallel, GESA has been developing for over ten years a comprehensive district heating network that is over 90% run on renewable energy. The annual savings amount to over eight million litres of diesel and 23,000 tonnes of CO2. In 2016, this network provided over 670 buildings with around 80 GWh of energy: a figure that is likely to be doubled over the course of the next ten years. With this outlook in mind, GESA must guarantee its heat production through diversification of the energy sources, involving a large proportion of renewable energies, including the use of waste heat.

Thanks to the complementary character of the research projects of both partners, the problem of energy storage can be resolved and the energy use be optimised. There are plans to commission cogeneration plants generating electrical and heat energy with a mechanical output of more than one megawatt. Through the generation of electrical power, the security of supply of the GESA network will be enhanced. In the process, the proportion of clean energy will be increased to over 20% of the total distributed electrical power. The installed gas engines G9620 are manufactured by Liebherr Machines Bulle SA, and offer a platform for long-term monitoring, with the goal of developing and optimising products and systems.

The project harmonises with the objectives of sustainable development and is, therefore, supported by the Canton of Freiburg. Through its link-up to the GESA district heating network, furthermore, LMB acquires 100 %-renewable energy at its production site in Bulle. The investments of the partners amount to some CHF 9 million for GESA and almost CHF 4 million for Liebherr. The Canton of Freiburg has supported this project with CHF 1 million out of the cantonal energy fund.