An excursion took our guests from Africa and colleagues from the TU Dresden to the Upper Lusatia near the Polish border. It was part of a symposium on wood-based innovation in August, organized by our institute. The excursion gave insight into technologies that are used in Germany for forest management, wood processing and energy production. Based on the demand and application in the African countries has been discussed.
Firstly, we went to a forest in/close by Weißwasser, where we observed a big logging harvester machine during its operation. The retired forest district offer Mr. Manigel explained the investment and the operation of this machine.
At a first of a family-run sawmill diverse machines for wood processing could be inspected. The owner explained the handling of the machine and the current market situation in this region. This sawmill is located on a previous big GDR production plant. Therefore the machine were already up to 40 years old but still running. The technical innovation that has been installed by the owner is a Spanner wood gasification unit. It produces electric power from wood chips that are a by-product from sawmilling. It provides also thermal energy for the whole plant, already since for years day and night.
In the afternoon, we climbed a tower for an overview of the open-cast mining Nochten and the renaturation areas. Here, we learned about the procedure as well as the ecological and social consequences of this type of raw material extraction.
An almost 100 years old innovation, we encountered in the little town Niesky. In the 1920ies, parts for wood prefabricated houses were built that were exported worldwide and still can be found in the city. These houses were built and ready to use within a few days, and represented a modern and simple architecture. A highlight is the local wooden church in Niesky.
After a night in the border town Görlitz, with a visit of the Polish side in Zgorzelec, we visited a model town for renewable energy, the town Ostritz. With a mix of solar, wind and biomass energy, the towns aims to be an ecological and sustainable role model. Very interesting was the visit of the communal biogas plant that provides heating and warm water for up to 75% of the households. The African were very impressed. They would like to have an installation like this, but for the production of electricity.
The last station of the excursion was the monastery St. Marienthal. This beautiful and historic site was running different economic activities and even owned a forest in previous times. An old saw mill can be still visited. A brewery and guesthouse is still active under the label of the monastery, and it serves as an international education and meeting center.
By Maxi Domke