The village of Feldheim 60km from Berlin has become an unusual tourist attraction. The village’s independent energy grid and 100% renewable energy sources has gained international attention.
The village has its own energy grid and generates power from wind, biogas and solar. The model of Feldheim extinguishes the myth of needing nuclear or fossil fuel for baseload power and the assumption that big utility companies are required for electricity.
The transformation in Feldheim began in 1995 with a few wind turbines. Now the village has more wind turbines than homes. in 2008 the village added a biogas heat plant that runs off of corn waste and pig manure with a back up furnace that runs on lumber waste. In 2008 Feldheim decided they wanted their own energy grid. E,on refused to sell the existing grid to the city so they partnered with Energiequelle and built their own smart grid. Each villager paid in $3,972 for the grid installation but get a 31% savings on electricity and 10% savings on heat. It also created 30 permanent jobs for the town. Energiequelle is not building an electricity storage facility that will hold two days worth of electricity.
Feldheim did all of this while fighting the big utility companies and Germanies regulatory system that was not friendly to the drastic change Feldheim made. The mayor has now decided to leave his current political party over differences on energy. Now Germany is holding a contest for small towns to win money to use towards changes like those at Feldheim and Berlin is considering taking over their own electrical grid so they can make more changes like those at Feldheim. Germany now has 370,000 renewable energy jobs. Feldheim also has zero unemployment compared to 30% in other rural villages in the region.
Feldheim is a model for everywhere, though the town leaders say it isn’t a direct blueprint for implementation. It shows these technologies do work and work well used together. The village also shows how such changes can give an economic boost to small towns that otherwise struggle with with a variety of economic factors. Lower power bills, energy independence and more jobs sure sounds like a win.
Details of Feldheim’s system can be found here: http://www.neue-energien-forum-feldheim.de/
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