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Batch CLXVIII. Schwarzwald, Thursday June 17, 2021 NO. 47
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Tales from the Black Forest - A Wall Under Heritage Protection

Vöhrenbach

Foto von Willy Pragher, 1959, Quelle: Landesarchiv BW, StAF W 134 Nr. 057462b

"A resurrected technical monument of national importance" is how the town of Vöhrenbach in the Breg valley refers to its Linach valley dam. In actual fact, it is even under heritage protection because it is unique throughout Germany. The town constructed the dam between 1920 and 1922 to generate low-cost energy. In 1969, an energy provider offered DM 300,000 if the town would stop generating energy and instead enter into long-term supply contracts.
The contracts expired but the dam still remained as they wanted to save themselves the expense of demolishing it. In the 1990s, however, environmental awareness changed. A citizens' action group fought to use the dam again to generate energy. Everything was still there, including the three turbines, which had been in use since the 1940s and are again generating electricity today. Beforehand, however, the dam wall had to be completely refurbished. The 25-meter high and 143-meter long dam is made of concrete. It is the only dam wall in Germany that comprises a series of arches. In effect, it consists of numerous concrete drums that become wider towards the bottom and are placed on top of one another. This arched design is complex but sturdy. The dam wall is accessible on foot, and footpaths have been created in the surrounding area because Vöhrenbach offers not only energy generation but also tourist potential. Using its own resources, Vöhrenbach can now meet around 40% of the entire energy demand of the town and the three districts of Hammereisenbach-Bregenbach, Langenbach, and Urach, as well as 89 other settlements. The Linach valley dam generates around 1.2 million kilowatt hours per year, and eight other hydropower plants produce a further 1.1 million in total. Vöhrenbach willingly demonstrates how more than two million kilograms of CO2 are saved each year thanks to the green power that the town generates itself.

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