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The canton of Basel-Land has sold its Ergolztal and Muttenz heating networks to the private Swiss cooperative societies EBL and EBM, which, as planned, took them over and started operating them with effect from 1 January 2016. Major investments in their expansion are planned. In keeping with cantonal energy policy, there is to be a further increase in the proportion of renewable energies.

In 2014, the cantonal government examined alternatives to the way district heating systems were being operated at the time.  The outcome was a proposal put before the cantonal parliament to sell the two publicly owned district heating systems.  The Environment and Energy Commission having given its approval, draft legislation to this effect was passed on 15 January 2015 by 73 to 0 votes (with 4 abstentions).

After a process of invitations and dialogues, EBL was chosen as buyer of the Liestal district heating system for CHF 24.5 million, while EBM acquired the Polyfeld heating network in Muttenz for CHF 9.5 million (both prices excluding VAT).  EBL and EBM took on all the district heating systems' employees, whose vested rights are safeguarded, and integrated them into their organisations.  The effect of the sale of its two heating networks is to underline the cantonal government's view that neither the operation nor the further expansion of district heating systems belong to its core responsibilities.  For that reason, it strongly welcomes the acquisition of the two operations by EBL and EBM.

There are soon to be major investments in both heating networks, with the aim of extending them and connecting more energy buyers, deploying environmentally friendly technologies, and making more use of renewable energies.  As long ago as the 1990s, the canton had already taken a pioneering role in promoting the environmentally friendly use of energy and reducing dependence on fossil fuels, facilitating good use of windthrow from hurricane Lothar, and opening a sales channel for Swiss-grown timber.

Liestal district heating system

Construction of Liestal cantonal hospital (1958-1962) gave rise to an autonomous district heating plant.  Additional cantonal and privately-owned buildings were connected over the subsequent decades, making this one of the largest networks in the region.  Having first incorporated landfill gas from Elbisgraben, the network then added woodchip heating in 2004.

The output of thermal energy to customers currently stands at 50,000,000 kWh a year, with public buildings consuming around half, and the remaining 50 percent going to 137 private customers.  The fuels used are natural gas (62%), wood (37%), along with landfill gas and mineral oil (1%).  More than 80% is to be provided from renewable energy sources by 2020.  The Liestal district heating network covers parts of the municipalities of Füllinsdorf und Frenkendorf, and extends into the old town quarter of Liestal.

Polyfeld district heating system

The Polyfeld Muttenz district heating system plant was a joint project by the cantons of Basel-City and Basel-Land, built in 1971-72 to heat the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland FHNW (the former ‘Ingenieurschule beider Basel’).  The network now has 31 customers connected to it.  Installation of a second heat pump will increase the percentage of renewable energy from today’s 58% to 70% (in 2020).

The output of thermal energy to customers currently stands at 15,400,000 kWh a year, most of it derived from industrial waste heat from the Florin edible oils factory, supplemented by electricity, natural gas and mineral oil.  The network's perimeter extends from the cantonal border north of St.-Jakobs-Strasse to Muttenz train station.  The site still harbours major potential for further connections:  future supplies to the new FHNW campus, scheduled to open in 2018, will increase the energy requirement by around a quarter, and the new building also requires air conditioning.

Convenient heating service 

Both of the private-sector energy suppliers provide convenient, dependable and efficient solutions to purchasers of heating energy.  Both have their roots in the region, together with many years of experience.  The heating systems operate from energy sources such as wood, pellets, gas and oil as well as technical systems including heat pumps, waste heat, solar thermal systems and geothermal probes. 

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