For the Brüning Group, 2023 was characterised by significant milestones, inspiring challenges and valuable experiences. In the midst of a very dynamic business environment, we drove forward innovative projects and expanded and built sustainable partnerships. The market situation remains challenging. General factors such as rising energy costs, a severely weakening construction industry and the decline in consumer behaviour are causing increasing difficulties. We ourselves faced specific problems such as a rapid decline in the amount of waste wood, low waste volumes and a slump in the pellets sector.

When we review the year, we realise that every challenge also opens up new perspectives for us. The hurdles we overcame last year not only strengthened our resilience, but also helped us to continuously grow and develop as a team and as a company. We would therefore like to take a brief look back at the highlights and major issues of the year.

A special event was the big move at the end of July 2023, when the employees from Fischerhude and the former Bremen office moved into the modern premises of our new company headquarters. The move symbolises a significant step towards the future. The innovative office structure enables optimal networking and even more efficient utilisation of synergies. Last but not least, the sense of togetherness is strengthened as we are all under one roof again.

Internationalisation proceeded with the establishment of three new companies in other European countries: Brüning Group Italia Srl, Brüning Group Polska Sp. z o.o. and Brüning Group Česko s.r.o. The focus of this internationalisation strategy is primarily on adapting to the constantly changing needs of our customers and suppliers in the face of changing market conditions.

Another major concern for us is the promotion of young talented people and their career paths. For this reason, we decided to offer the option of a dual study programme, which met with a great response. We understand the challenges faced by school leavers and believe that the combination of training and study is a promising option for a successful professional future.

The Renewable Energy Directive (RED III) was a topic that caused a lot of controversy. We had reported on the draft of the third version of the directive, which addressed both the strengthening of renewable energies and far-reaching restrictions on wood energy production. After almost two years of trilogue negotiations, the European Commission, the European Parliament and the European Council agreed on a comprehensive redrafting at the end of March, with a binding increase in the share of renewable energy to 42.5% by 2030. One key aspect is that energy from wood is still considered renewable energy, but is subject to a number of exemptions that now prohibit financial support.

There were also heated discussions about the forthcoming changes to CO2 pricing for fuels, in particular the CO2 levy on thermally utilised waste. The amount of the levy depends on various factors such as calorific value, waste code number and proportion of biogenic components. The regulations in accordance with the German Fuel Emissions Trading Act will come into force on 1 January 2024. Many waste-to-energy plants and waste wood-fired power plants will then be obliged to pay CO2 levies.

We will monitor these types of issues and developments closely, maintain regular dialogue and ensure that we are always up to date with the latest information in order to implement the respective requirements in practice together with our business partners. We would like to reaffirm our commitment to being aware of political regulations in the area of biomass and waste, even if we are not directly affected by legislation.

Let us therefore view this retrospective as a moment of reflection that also serves as a bridge to the future. We were able to record considerable successes last year and are proud to have achieved the goals we set ourselves with the Brüning Group. We assume that the coming year will also be characterised by uncertainties, that economic development will continue to weaken and that international conflicts and climate issues will not only dominate everyday news, but also everyday working life – nevertheless, we are optimistic about the new year.

Finally, we would like to express our sincere thanks for the cooperation and wish everyone a Merry Christmas and all the best, health, peace and lots of success for the New Year!