Reconstruction of the infrastructure in the Ahr valley with SIMONA® PE 100-RC-Line and PE 100-RC-Line SPC pressure pipes

The once-in-a-generation floods in the Ahr valley destroyed the entire infrastructure, from water to electricity supply. Germany’s largest “green gas network” is being planned as part of the reconstruction project. As well as wastewater and drinking water pressure pipes, high and medium-pressure gas pipes will also be installed within the scope of this major project known as “EFAhr = Energiefabrik Ahrtal”, (in English: “Ahr valley energy factory”). In future, new biogas pipelines will supply local consumers directly with regionally produced biogas from the EFAhr. With around 36.5 kilometres of newly laid PE 100-RC-Line and PE 100-RC-Line SPC pressure pipes, SIMONA® is one of the largest pipeline suppliers for this groundbreaking project. The company is therefore providing a durable solution for the below-ground infrastructure that makes a significant contribution to safety and damage limitation in the event of future floods.

On the night of 14 to 15 July 2021, more than 100 litres of rain per square metre fell in parts of the German states Rhineland-Palatinate and North Rhine-Westphalia – more than ever before since meteorological records began. The resulting catastrophic flooding in the Ahr valley, leading to 136 deaths, deeply affected the entire country and showed the importance of a rapid shift to sustainable and regenerative energies. One of the most important transport pipelines in the severely impacted municipalities of Adenau and Altenahr is the “Tallinie”, which runs along the Ahr for about 40 kilometres from Dorsel to Marienthal. After the catastrophic floods, large sections of it were severely damaged, resulting in 26 of the 49 communities subsequently being cut off from regular drinking water supplies. As the water utility responsible, the special-purpose association “Wasserversorgung Eifel-Ahr”, together with other bodies and in collaboration with numerous contractors for different trades, is in charge of the extensive repairs and replacements. The huge damage and associated reconstruction necessary prompted the parties responsible at SWB Regional GmbH, the operating company of the special-purpose association Wasserversorgung Eifel-Ahr, to plan an environmentally friendly energy supply system using biogas.

A total of 9,530 metres of PE 100-RC-Line SPC drinking water pressure pipes with diameters of 160, 225 and 355 millimetres, 14,580 metres of PE 100-RC-Line SPC gas pressure pipes with diameters of 160 and 225 millimetres, and 12,372 metres of PE 100 RC-Line wastewater pressure pipes with diameters of 110, 180, 250, 280 and 355 millimetres will now be installed in the infrastructure corridor. The around 25-kilometre-long gas pipelines that will also be laid as part of the reconstruction project are intended to create the new “energy backbone of the Ahr valley” and will supply regionally produced biogas from EFAhr directly to neighbouring communities. In conjunction with the expansion of the wastewater treatment plant to 30,000 population equivalents, a sewage sludge digester will be built to recover biogas or methane gas. Surplus gas volumes will be fed to the public gas network and will contribute to the district’s carbon-neutral balance. To provide better protection against future floods, the infrastructure corridor will be laid off the course of the river wherever possible. Where this is not possible, protective measures will be taken to improve system resilience.

In future, the upgraded infrastructure corridor will supply the Ahr valley with sustainable, regionally produced biogas. The plastic pipes will protect the area from more extensive environmental damage in the event of future flooding. This large-scale, groundbreaking construction project is set to be completed this year.

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