The BEKW power plant in Emlichheim is the first in Germany to rely on straw as a fuel. This cogeneration plant (10.2 MWe / 49.8 MWt) started up in 2013 and burns approximately 70,000 t/y of straw from surrounding farms.

It achieves a record primary energy efficiency of approximately 90 percent. Technical availability is 98 percent, which is excellent for this type of plant. The facility burns approximately 60,000 metric tons of straw per year. 

The biomass plant supplies heat to Emsland-Stärke GmbH, Evangelische Krankenhausverein hospital association, public facilities (in particular the town hall, schools) and private households as well.

Circular economy

However, the straw-burning cycle in Emlichheim does not end with the generation of heat. The “by-product ash” is used as fertilizer. In addition, the straw-fired heating plant also generates electricity.


The power plant is equipped with about 6,000 measuring points. An important indicator is that the emission thresholds for dust are between 0.1 and 0.6 milligrams per standard cubic meter, well below the established thresholds.

SIPOS SEVEN drives with Profibus interface (V2 services as standard) are installed at the power plant. AUMA electric actuators contribute to both the efficiency and the reliability of the Emlichheim plant. In use are around 30 SA actuators for open-close duty and SAR actuators for modulating duty, all equipped with AC intelligent actuator controls.

An example application is the control of water flow to the spray attemperators located after the superheaters. Variations in the quality of the straw fuel, and the continuously changing demand for district heat, make this a challenging task that the AUMA actuators are well placed to handle.

Source: Emsland Group, Power Engineering International.