The annual turnover of Power Plant IlgEnergiewerke Ilg_logo.png

Biogas plant

  • Input: 2,000 tons of energy crops and 12,500 m³ liquid manure
  • Output: 1.6 GWh green electricity, 2 GWh heat for process and wood chips drying

Biomass heating plant

  • Input: 30,000 srm Biomass
  • Output: 20 GWh (heat quantity sold to 400 public, commercial or private heat consumers)
  • 24 km district heating network

Wood-fired power plants

  • 2 wood-fired power plants à 250 and 500 kWelectr.
  • Output: 6 GWh green electricity, 12 GWh heat feed into the district heating network and 650 tons of vegetable coal

Tobias Ilg (left) and Bernhard Ilg (right)

When ideas become deeds – the Power Plant Ilg

Some people you don’t even have to meet personally in order to sense their commitment and ambition. The online search for “Tobias Ilg” delivers several articles describing his future-oriented thinking and acting absolutely convincingly.

Tobias Ilg is a farmer who obviously does not focus on just one department. When he took over the farm in Dornbirn in Vorarlberg from his father in 2000, the 20 dairy cows, 20 hectares of land and 20 hectares of mountain forest were the most important "fruits" of the farm's existence. After accomplishing some small renewals, however, he still missed a more extensive development potential and so he planned a restructuring together with his father. In 2004, the changeover began: leaving behind the branch of dairy farming and ceasing for the shores of renewable energies. Since then, the farm land has been cultivated in a balanced crop rotation between grassland, maize and spelt - not least, of course, in order to use the energy crops in their biogas plant.

In 2003, the infrastructure kicked off with this same biogas plant, which he built outside the village, mainly to avoid unpleasant odors. The input, which includes not only the energy crops but also the regional liquid manure, is here converted into gas by anaerobic methane bacteria. The generator in turn converts the gas mixture to electricity, which supplies about 350 households in the region.

Sure enough that was not enough for Tobias Ilg: As a skilled woodworker, it was obvious to him to use the "by-product" heat generated in the plant to dry wood chips. Thereby, around 15,000 srm of wood chips are produced annually to generate electricity. The two wood gas power plants (250 + 500kW) though even produce a third valuable product besides green electricity and heat: vegetable coal. The difference to other wood gasification plants is the production of biochar of the highest quality,- which can improve the soil quality in various ways and also serves as a carbon sink.

One anticipates it ready: In addition to this comprehensive utilization of biomass, the Energiewerke Ilg, founded in 2014, also use the sun and wind as a source of energy. By means of the 5 photovoltaic systems, approx. 200,000 kW of electricity are fed into the grid annually, which is enough for 40 households. Although the alternative small wind turbine on the roof of the company building only manages to produce around 2,000 kW annually, it is characterized by its quiet, shadow-free operation and the feed-in of electricity at a wind speed of only 2.5 m/s. Tobias Ilg's holistic approach can also be seen in the details, too: instead of company cars, the employees have e-bikes at their disposal since almost all the turbines are close enough together. Should a car still be necessary, customers and colleagues alike can use the CARUSO car-sharing model.

So far, so good. But why would all that be relevant for our platform focusing on bio fuels in agriculture and forestry?  Well, for one thing, all the farm's tractors run on HVO biodiesel, which reduces emissions by 75 % compared to fossil fuel. On the other hand, with such a comprehensive, holistic concept, it seems almost mandatory that the natural products are also used by the farm itself: since logistics are one of Tobias Ilg's various mainstays, he purchased a Scania G 410 in 2018, which can run on both natural gas and biogas. The reason for this investment was that the wood chips were mainly produced in the mountains, to be precise in the sawmills not far from his own forest. So far though, not only the altitude had been a challenge during the transport, but also the mostly unpaved roads leading from the heating plants down into the valley. Thus, the need for a reliable, robust vehicle arose, ideally with a 6x4 chassis and high torque. Gladly enough, the Scania G-series, with its 410 hp and optimized engine, does not only meet these characteristics but the engineers were also able to keep the vehicle short, making it relatively easy to handle in the mountains. Above all however, it can be adapted to the situation. Tobias Ilg is completely satisfied with the latest acquisition and thus accordingly convinced.

Luckily, such an ambitious farmer inspires his professional colleagues. It is therefore not unusual for him to have the opportunity to put his enthusiasm into words when he has questions regarding reliability, functionality or other points. The Scania G 410, which is already more environmentally friendly (due to its natural gas operation), also runs perfectly when fueled with bio-methane - and is virtually CO2-neutral in view of the low emissions. At present, the refueling process is still going on at the biogas filling station about 25 km away, after which the vehicle will do its job for about 400 km. This is absolutely sufficient for a regionally active company.

Up till today, constructing his own filling station has not been financially attractive enough but Ilg expects this to be simply a matter of time: it seems that he has set off a trend since Scania in the meantime continuously receives several requests for an equivalent product. As soon as there will be sufficient trucks running on bio-methane in the region, the next idea, the gas station, can be put in action in order to extend the holistic concept of Tobias Ilg.

Biomass boiler at the heating plant in Hatlerdorf

Scania G 410 truck, powered by natural gas or biomethane.

Biochar improves soil quality and serves as a carbon sink.


Tobias Ilg
Hatlerstraße 66a
AT-6850 Dornbirn
Phone: +43 (0)664 300 56 33

Bildnachweise: Tobias Ilg