European Home Wind Energy Communities Are a Model to Follow

Europe is the world’s leader in home wind energy efforts.  Encouraged by tax incentives and proper legislation, alternative energy communities are sprouting up all over Europe.

For example, in Germany’s black forest, the community of Freiamt relies on roof-mounted photovoltaic systems, wind generators, biogas, rape seed oil, wood chips, and other renewable sources to make their small region self-sufficient in regards to energy production.

Freiamt is not the only German community that is a shining example of future alternative energy living.

Dardesheim, a village with about 1,000 citizens in the former East German county of Halberstadt, has the goal of becoming the "go to model" for alternative energy living.

Eco Village In Germany

The town installed its first wind turbine in 1993. 

Then in 2006, it created a 62-megawatt wind project that will generate 130 million kilowatt hours annually, enough for the county's entire population of 80,000.

Dardesheim also has nine photovoltaic power plants that generated 380 Kilowatt Hours their first year of deployment.

On top of that, the community of Dadesheim also has a biomass central heating plant.

Meanwhile, the village of Mauenheim that lies in the state of Baden Wurttemberg has a bio gas facility, and wood chip heating systems working in conjunction with  PV systems.

Estimates suggest that this bio energy village saves the planet from 1,900 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year.

All of the alternative energy progress made by European communities has been largely dependent on proper legislation. 

Energy companies are required by national laws to offer fair purchase prices for any surplus energy generated by the eco communities. 

The power companies have tried to fight this progress, but thus far have failed in their attempts to undermine progress.

I’m sure the idea of localized, ecofriendly home wind energy communities does not sound very profitable for the multinational energy companies.  

I guess they will just have to get over it. 

In Other News...

In other news, Switzerland is leading the efforts in pushing for even more progressive legislation, by proposing a “2000 watt society.”

The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology first came up with the idea of a 2000-watt society in 1998.

Three years later, the country's Federal Office of Energy created the SwissEnergy program as "a platform for an intelligent energy policy."

The program is a partnership of 30 public and private organizations involved in energy production, and has become the default model for evolving toward the 2,000-watt vision. 

Michael Kaufmann is the deputy director of the Swiss energy ministry and head of SwissEnergy. 

He explains that progress for this evolutionary step forward will depend on four components: energy efficiency, alternative energies, main power stations, and an energy foreign policy. 

Home wind energy efficiency involves encouraging the construction of efficient buildings such as so-called "Minergy" houses that only consume one-tenth of the energy used by conventional housing.

Kaufmann explains it like this:

"Energy efficiency involves setting energy standards, along with voluntary agreements with utilities, price negotiations, and agreements on controls on public sector consumption."

Switzerland has a particular advantage in the alternative energy sector.Hydro-electric power accounts for almost 60 percent of its present power production, while its geography offers plenty of opportunities for the use of photovoltaics and wind power.

"The potential for renewables is pretty good," Kaufmann says. "We can obtain 50 percent of our heat from renewables and 80 percent of our electricity from renewables and hydropower."

Incentives that will encourage the growth of renewable power include a feed-in tariff system similar to Germany's that is due to start up next year, and the reduction of taxes on biofuels.

SwissEnergy will encourage home wind energy power stations to reduce their dependence on fossil fuels by converting to gas-fired plants.

The possibility also exists of maintaining a nuclear option for the years beyond 2020, although that possibility is controversial.

Switzerland plans to phase out its five aging nuclear plants within the next few years and not to replace them.

However, public opinion that opposed the construction of new nuclear plants two years ago is now reconsidering their position on the subject, and may be open to compromise.

The home wind energy foreign policy will aim to reduce any Swiss dependence on fossil fuels from the surrounding countries.

Wind Turbine farm in Wellington, New Zealand

Main Source For This Article: The Academic Journal “Research-Technology Management”

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