Biogas for Hanovice

The mayor of Hanovice Arnost Vogel with the chairman of the farm collective Vaclav Kuba.

The mayor of Hanovice Arnost Vogel with the chairman of the farm collective Vaclav Kuba.

Hanovice na Hane, Czech Republic

We talked to Mayor Arnost Vogel, about energy, the removal of illegal junkyards and building greenhouses.

Important ecological changes often occur around towns and municipalities that have the opportunity to greatly affect quality of life. Meaningful ecological and energy savvy cultivation of public space tends to be a good example to citizens and private organizations.

One of these places is the city of Hanovice na Hane, where Mayor Arnost Vogel closely cooperates with local companies to ensure lowering of wasted energy, the removal of illegal junkyards and building greenhouses, which in turn create both new jobs and fresh vegetables supplied to the local store.

Ecological and energetic progress in the area began with the construction of a biogas generator, which not only produces electricity and heat, but also helped bring life back into the local culture center. Thanks to these successes, the town of Hanovice made its way to the finals of the E.ON Energy Globe award. We talked with Mayor Arnost Vogel about the town's increasing the quality of life for the people and maintaining a healthy countryside.

Arnost Vogel

How did you find your way to ecology?

Arnost Vogel: Around the year 2007, I was visited by the chairman of the collective farm with the idea that we could build a biogas generator. That man is a wonderful person. He keeps coming up with efficient improvements for the collective. He noticed that wheat farming has little potential and decided for the biogas generator. One day we took a trip to Germany to see how the generators operate.

How does it operate here?

Arnost Vogel: The biogas generator works mainly as a source of electricity. We supply it mostly with manure, grasses and hay. Our station has the power of 1 megawatt, which in theory could cover the whole town but it’s currently mostly used by the farm collective. The surplus energy goes to the grid. About a third of the energy is used up by the biogas generator itself. Along with electricity, it passively generates heat as a by-product. But we decided to use that as well.

What do you heat with it?

Arnost Vogel: The farm collective, as a thank you for the generator, implemented a heating system to our house of culture, which greatly increased social life in town. Before we heated with gas, which would cost up to 12 000 crowns per a single event, therefore it was highly unprofitable. With our current heating system the house of culture is heated steadily around 20-22 °C and it’s used practically every day.

What sort of activities are performed there?

Arnost Vogel: The house of culture is practically the center of our town. You can do yoga, play badminton, table tennis, football and other sports. Which is a lot better than two ballroom dances a year. Now there’s dance parties, firefighter balls and more. Truth be told, there’s no free weekend. I guess you could say that the biogas generator brought new life to culture.

The construction of the greenhouses in the background
Granaries of the farm collective of Hanovice
The biogas station in the area of the farm collective

What other new things are you working on?

Well, the biggest project we're undertaking are greenhouses. They should be operational on the 30th of September this year. It will generate about 35 new jobs, and electricity and heat will go directly from the biogas station. Whatever we'll grow we plan to sell on our local market. Other than that we're currently constructing a place for the manufacturing of wires for 3D printers, which will also receive electricity and heat from the biogas station.

How do local residents see the development?

Mostly positively. They appreciate the activities in the house of culture and the new greenhouses. I've already heard from about a dozen people who'd like to work there. There are several people who complain about the smell from the biogas generator. Wind does occasionally carry the smell here but it's nothing severe.

The environment around town was previously threatened by a waste dump.

You probably mean the project regarding the area of Litovel-Nasoburky, which exists mostly in the land register of the town Hanovice. There used to be brickyards in the past and then on from the 50s till the 90s an illegal junkyard slowly came to existence. It was discovered by the farm collective, who use a local water well there. They found out that the water there contained dangerous substances that degraded its quality. In conjunction with the town of Litovel several testing boreholes were drilled and the conclusion was that the area there was completely contaminated along with other neighboring water sources. 

The farm collective of Hanovice owns 868 head of cattle of the Holstein breed
Cattle paddock along with a cowshed in the background
The ballroom of the house of culture
The biogas generator itself

That sounds rather bad. What happened afterwards?

The contamination continued on towards a protected area of the water source for the city of Olomouc and Litovel, which meant that tens of thousands of residents were in danger. Around 210 thousands  tons of garbage were removed from the waste dump, soil was brought in and the whole area was sanitized. The water is now completely safe to drink. Our thanks goes to the town of Litovel, which took on the responsibility and offered smooth cooperation with us.  We also share a mutual project concerning sewer systems.

All's well that ends well. Are you planning any other projects?

There's going to be a bio-corridor for wildlife. We're starting a restoration of the whole park and a part of that will be new in-ground waste containers. We will also be purchasing two garbage cans for each household. One for plastics and the other for paper, as to motivate our citizens to recycle more. We wanted to connect the biogas generator with public lightning but realized it would be unprofitable. We only have about 45 street lamps, so the whole connecting process would cost more than we would eventually save. But we did at least switch all light bulbs with energy saving LED lights.

Why did you join the E.ON Energy Globe?

I read about the competition in a pamphlet and thought that our town had a lot to offer. All the changes we make are of a large caliber. I never thought we'd make it to the next round, though. So I am rather pleased.

Why did you join the E.ON Energy Globe?

Mostly thanks to our town, I'm noticing that ecological projects aren't hard to realize and they often bring both positive economic and social impact. A great example would be our house of culture. It's hard to say whether the Czech Republic is an ecological country, but it's definitely on the right tracks. It would be nice if more municipal mayors approached ecology more positively and weren't afraid to cooperate with others, just like we do with the town of Litovel. Because cooperation bears the ripest fruit.

You might also like