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Why Harting has been producing biogas itself for around 20 years

Hida Winkle is a tech blogger from Ohio with a degree in mass communication and a gift for writing. She is the editor-in-chief of Hida’s favorite subjects are technology and building art. She is also a huge fan of Anime and Manga.

Sustainability in industry

Feb 23, 2024

By Martin Ciupek

Reading time: approx. 3 minutes

This year, connector manufacturer Harting bought a biogas plant in Espelkamp. But the company has been producing biomethane for its own production for a long time, thereby reducing its dependence on natural gas.

Why Harting has been producing biogas itself for around 20 years | Harting Biogas Uchte 172809 scaled 313x0 c default
Since 2019, connector manufacturer Harting has been heating its production in Espelkamp with biomethane from the nearby biogas plant in Uchte. In the foreground you can see the pressurized water washing system, in which biogas is converted into biomethane by splitting off CO2.
Photo: M. Ciupek

While many companies have only been concerned with sustainable alternatives to natural gas since the start of the Ukrainian war, this has been an issue at Harting in Espelkamp for more than ten years. What few people know: The then company boss and son of the connector manufacturer’s founder, Dietmar Harting, always had a connection to agriculture through his mother. The head of the Harting Technology Group later gradually invested in his own biogas plants.

Why Harting has been producing biogas itself for around 20 years | Dietmar Harting 2024

“In addition to my entrepreneurial activity, I was also a farmer,” says Dietmar Harting, the long-standing CEO of the Harting Technology Group. Photo: M. Ciupek

According to his own statements, the now 84-year-old just wanted a meadow for a horse more than 30 years ago, but was only offered the opportunity to lease an entire farm. He managed it with a team. In 1996 he received an offer to take over the neighboring farm in Uchte and accepted. “In this respect, in addition to my entrepreneurial activity, I was also a farmer,” he remembers today with a smile.

EEG motivated Harting to produce biogas

When the Renewable Energy Act (EEG) came into being in the era of Federal Chancellor Gerhard Schröder in 2000, biogas became an issue on farms. Energy production at Harting began with a pigsty and the construction of a 0.5 MW biogas plant. This was primarily used to generate electricity, which was common and politically desired at the time. Biogas power generation provided green electricity primarily for base load needs. Some of the waste heat could be used in agricultural operations. “In 2002, we quickly learned that although we could sell the electricity quickly, we could hardly use the heat,” reports Harting. That is why, from 2011 onwards, the focus was on the production of biomethane: This is processed biogas, which as biomethane is chemically comparable to natural gas and can be used accordingly. It is also said that biogas is “refined” into biomethane.

Reading tip: The biogas industry promises to secure the German electricity grid quickly and cheaply

Since then, the company has fed the biomethane into a public gas pipeline, which is located directly on the property with the biogas plant. The biomethane is sold via this network and also used by the Harting company in Espelkamp, ​​about 30 km away. Today’s 3 MW system could supply around 2,800 households. “Even though it was more expensive than natural gas, we heated the entire production with it in 2019,” Dietmar Harting confidently announces. His son and successor as CEO of the Harting Technology Group, Philip Harting, is now continuing to pursue this path.

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