A crematorium in Germany had told how it is beating the energy crisis by installing solar panels to help keep its ovens burning.
The move comes after it was reported that crematoriums may have to close down over winter because of fears that gas could run out due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Now Schoenebeck crematorium has installed 169 solar modules on its roof to generate 70 kilowatts of power.
They are expected to generate 50 percent of the electricity needed to run the facility.
Schoenebeck – in central-eastern Germany’s state of Saxony-Anhalt – cremates bodies at temperatures reaching 1,200 degrees Celsius.
The average cremation reportedly requires an average of three cubic metres of gas as well as a significant amount of electricity.
For a while, there were fears that crematoriums across Europe would have to close down due to skyrocketing energy prices amid the ongoing economic war between Europe and Russia.
Wolfgang Ruland, 66, head of the undertakers’ association and co-owner of the crematorium, told local media: “From January, gas will be five times as expensive and electricity three times as expensive as last year.”
And because of rising energy prices, the crematorium said that it has had to increase its prices from EUR 245 to EUR 310.
Ruland said: “We want to avoid further increases through solar energy, and we have also changed our processes.”
He also explained that they currently only have one oven working instead of the two they previously operated.
He said: “Previously, we had two ovens working in a two-shift system. However, most of the gas is used when the system is started up.”
The crematorium therefore only operates one oven around the clock in a three-shift system. This saves up to 50 per cent on gas and not only reduces costs but is also better for the environment.
German media said that over 37,000 people died in the state of Saxony-Anhalt last year and that 94 percent of them were cremated.
Crematorium officials have been increasingly worried after Russia cut gas supplies to Europe.
German crematoriums may have to close down over winter because of fears they may not have enough gas because of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
Fearful of the rising gas prices and exploding costs, crematorium managers are reportedly becoming increasingly worried that in a worst-case scenario, they may even have to shut down over the winter.
The head of the city of Dresden’s municipal cemeteries, Robert Arnrich, 53, said in October: “We are not part of the system-relevant Priority 1, so we would then no longer get any gas.”
He explained that in such cases, planned cremations in the district of Tolkewitz, Dresden and Saxony would not take place.
Arnrich added: “Even if half of them are working, we will still have a problem – just like all the other 160 crematoriums in Germany.”
He claimed that the city’s cemeteries were even less prepared for the problems that increased demand would bring as they do not have sufficient space to deal with it.
Adding that burial as an alternative is also much more expensive, Arnrich explained: “It is also a question of respecting a person’s last wish.
“Ninety percent of the deceased opt for cremation. Simply ignoring this wish would be undignified.”
Crematoriums in Germany have continued operating after having switched off some ovens while keeping others fully operational so they do not cool down, which would require more gas to be reheated.
The Chairman of the Federal Association of Funeral Needs e.V., Christian Greve, said: “The continuous operation of a crematorium is significantly more environmentally friendly than lowering the temperature.
“For ecological reasons, falling below the legally prescribed temperature for cremation makes less sense and does not necessarily save gas.”
Greve explained that multi-shift operation is more environmentally friendly and comparatively resource-saving, adding: “In multi-shift operation, cremation systems heat up less often and use less gas accordingly.
“With a 24/7 operation, consumption is almost zero.”
According to Greve, reducing the afterburning chamber’s temperature to under 850 degrees Celsius is not an option because “if it falls below, odours and emissions develop that are released into the air as environmental toxins.”
He concluded: “It cannot be said in general that a reduction in the gas will at the end of the day save gas.”
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