Architects of the Heat Transition

Interview with Sylwia Senczyszyn, Managing Director of HPS Holzkontor and Pelletierwerk Schwedt GmbH

Holzkontor and Pelletierwerk Schwedt - Location in Schwedt
At the site in Schwedt, pellets are produced under high quality standards and from 100% natural wood

Climate change and the energy transition are THE top issue of political discussion, further fueled by the recent judgement of the Constitutional Court. HPS Holzkontor and Pelletierwerk Schwedt GmbH is a significant part of the newly created pellet group of LEAG. As one of the leading manufacturers of biofuels, the company is repositioning itself to offer renewable and climate-friendly solutions for the heat transition.

Economic Forum: HPS has been operating under the umbrella of the LEAG Group since March 2022. What was the background of the acquisition?

Sylwia Senczyszyn: LEAG is one of the leading electricity producers in Germany and supplies millions of households, the industry, and public life with energy. The core business of the group is electricity and heat production. The group also includes a refining business. With the briquette factory Schwarze Pumpe in Lusatia, it has been active in the fuel business for over 60 years. Currently, the company is undergoing a comprehensive transformation process from fossil fuels to renewable energies. Wind and sun play a major role, and there is also a desire to transform the fuel business. Thus, the acquisition of HPS was a strategic decision to be able to offer a green product to the heating market. HPS was the first plant to be acquired. Since then, three more plants have been added.

Economic Forum: What is the core business of HPS?

Sylwia Senczyszyn, Managing Director of HPS Holzkontor und Pelletierwerk Schwedt GmbH
Sylwia Senczyszyn, Managing Director of HPS Holzkontor und Pelletierwerk Schwedt GmbH

Sylwia Senczyszyn: HPS has been around since 2006, and from the beginning, the goal has been to produce sustainable solid fuels, mostly for energy providers, power generators, and industrial clients. We focus on industrial pellets and premium pellets for smaller and modern boiler systems in private households. Our plants serve very different markets. We are at home in all segments, from heating plants to trade and the private heat market. We ship around 120,000 tons of pellets per year and deliver to seven countries. LEAG is a very renowned provider of solid fuels. For many years, retailers such as REWE or large home improvement stores have been among the customers. Long-term partnership is a strength of both LEAG and HPS.

Wood depot and Schwedt pelletizing plant production
HPS uses the latest technologies and meets the highest sustainability criteria in production
Wood Depot and Pelleting Plant Schwedt Meeting
Together, HPS and LEAG set new market standards

Economic Forum: Where do you see the company in the discussion about the heat transition?

Sylwia Senczyszyn: The heat transition is inevitable. We will invest in our plants, expand our capacities, and push energy-saving processes. The heat transition cannot be managed without solid fuels. Wood pellets have lower ash content and thus higher heating values. Of course, a lot depends on the legal framework conditions, but also on the customers who ultimately decide for themselves which direction they want to go, in which type of boiler they want to invest. Our goal is to guarantee energy and supply security. With our pellets, we combine economy and climate protection.

Economic Forum: What is your position on the much-discussed heating law?

Sylwia Senczyszyn: The law is very complex, but it makes an important decision. It is clear that renewable energies will play a leading role in heating supply in the future. To significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the building sector, the law provides several fulfillment options: heat pump, district heating, hydrogen, or a modern biomass heating system. Especially in existing buildings, heating with pellets is an efficient and safe solution.

Economic Forum: What does HPS itself do to keep the ecological footprint of the company as low as possible?

Sylwia Senczyszyn: We source our raw materials exclusively from the region and only from controlled sources that meet PEFC and SBP sustainability criteria. This means we not only protect our environment through our products but also through environmentally friendly production processes. We are ISO 5001 certified, were awarded the Sustainable-Biomass-Program seal as one of the first companies in 2020, and in 2022, we were the first provider to receive the REDII-compliant certificate.

Wood Depot and Pelleting Plant Schwedt Wood Pellets
Wood pellets stand for green heat supply

Economic Forum: What are your themes for the year 2024?

Sylwia Senczyszyn: We will continue to invest in the optimization of our production processes, with the goal of reducing our own energy needs. We expect the industry to come to us with increased demand starting in 2025. We want to be prepared for that. We also plan to merge the pellet plants within the LEAG Group. That is the big task for the next six months. Of course, we will respond to politics. Today, as a pellet group, we are already leading in terms of the sustainability of our raw materials. We go beyond the usual industry standards and want to continue to live up to this position.

Economic Forum: What does the Constitutional Court's ruling mean for your market?

Sylwia Senczyszyn: That remains to be seen. The political process and communication are suboptimal. Above all, the market wants one thing: security. There needs to be clarity and reliability for the success of the heating transition.