Germany is the global trailblazer in the field of renewable energies and the WELTEC group is one of the pioneers in this industry. Since the founding date on July 1, 2001, WELTEC BIOPOWER has focused and continued to develop from an AD plant manufacturer to an all-round specialist along the entire biogas value chain.
To this day, the group has been in the hands of a small group of powerful shareholders and has refrained from involving investors to this day. Not least on the basis of this stable ownership structure, the WELTEC Group has become one of the world’s leading providers for the construction and operation of biogas and biomethane/ RNG plants. The results and projects of the last two decades around the globe speak for themselves: To date, the company, which currently employs around 120 people, has planned and installed more than 350 stainless steel energy systems on 5 continents in 25 countries. In addition, the group has invested a three-digit million Euro amount in its own plant.
Thanks to an international diversification strategy and the high product and plant quality, WELTEC has also mastered challenging phases, such as the successful turnaround in the difficult years 2014 and 2015. In 2012 and 2014, the amendment of the German Renewable Energy Law (EEG) resulted in hard reductions of the feed-in tariffs, which lead to a massive decline in biogas plant construction. Not all market players survived this time. But even under these tougher framework conditions, WELTEC BIOPOWER was able to maintain and even expand its market position.
Jens Albartus, you have been the Managing Director of WELTEC BIOPOWER since July 2006. So you have been in charge of the group for most of the company’s 20-year history. What is the success story of WELTEC?
We have always remained faithful to our mission “organic energy worldwide” and to our corporate values over the years. Besides we offer technologies of very high quality from a single source. Another important success factor is that we design the main components of our plants ourselves and have them manufactured in our region. With this we can guarantee a very high quality. We take the needs and framework conditions of our customers very seriously. Each plant is consistently designed for the requirements of our customers. Furthermore, our low staff turnover should also be mentioned. Many colleagues have been employed at WELTEC for over ten years. We stand out of the industry for twenty years due to the sum of this mixture of expertise, individuality, quality, resources and strategy.
That shows continuity. To what extent did you have to adapt or change in order to remain successful?
We have developed our products with high quality right from the start. But we have steadily expanded our portfolio over time and adapted it to the market. Therefore we have been able to develop extremely successful over the past twenty years from a pure plant planner and builder to a biogas specialist along the entire value chain. Due to the expansion of our range of services with maintenance, permanent or interim plant operation, heat contracting, and the production of biomethane as fuel, our customer structure has also changed significantly. As a plant manufacturer and service provider, we work for companies in the food, waste, sewage, and agricultural sectors. But we also supply horticultural companies and the real estate sector with sustainable heat. Recently added customers and partners are from the fuel industry. Heavy-duty vehicles and trucks are already driving with our biomethane as fuel.
Which projects of the last twenty years do you particularly remember?
In 2008 we built in Könnern, Saxony-Anhalt, what was then the world’s largest biomethane plant, and have been operating it ever since. The project was and is an important milestone for our company group. We are all very satisfied with the successful construction and operation of this AD plant. But international pioneering projects such as the Waste-to-Energy plant for a large Australian water supplier near Melbourne and the biogas plant for the milk powder producer EDL in Uruguay are projects that I remember fondly. This plant has been providing a thermal output of six megawatts since 2018. The South Americans only use residual materials such as cattle manure and feed leftovers from 14,000 dairy cows and generate 30,000 standard cubic meters of biogas every day. This covers a third of the high heat demand of their own dairy. Just like the plant in Könnern, we have a high industrial scale there. This standard was also the reason for EDL to choose WELTEC. We’ve built the plant in Uruguay as a turnkey contractor, including all auxiliary works. After one year of construction, we could hand over the EPC project to the customer.
How do you build the bridge between this successful past and the future?
More than 350 WELTEC plants, around 70 percent of which are running successfully abroad, now testify to our remarkable story. In many countries, we had the opportunity to do pioneering work in the field of biogas. For the future, it is important to remain to our mission and to continue the success story with our strengths as is currently happening. There is a huge potential of organic residues everywhere that can be converted efficiently and decentrally into green energy with the help of our process technology. So right now we have construction sites in Japan, Northern Ireland, and Spain. And the saving of carbon emissions is an important topic worldwide. This also includes the use of biogas in the mobility sector. Therefore I am looking forward to the next 20 years very optimistically and with great anticipation. Now things really get going!