SELF-SUFFICIENCY IN RENEWABLE ENERGY
GERMAN COMMUNITY BUILDS LARGE ENERGY PARK
Winner of the EU Sustainable Energy Awards - Consumers
In 2008, Saerbeck, a community of 7 200 inhabitants in Germany, decided to become self-sufficient in renewable energy by 2030 by implementing more than 150 actions based on an approach linking people and profits. The centrepiece is the transformation of an army munitions site into the Saerbeck Bioenergy Park, with seven wind turbines, two biomass plants generating electricity from organic waste and a solar power station.
The park has a capacity of 29 megawatts – over twice as high as local demand – and a third of the site is devoted to nature conservation. Other actions include installation of solar panels on houses and replacement of six gas boilers in public buildings with two woodchip-fired power plants.
Educational activities are another key element of the project. An ‘energy experience’ trail explains how renewable energy is produced and used, while 70 renewable energy classes and laboratories are run for 2 000 children at the energy park each year.
By fostering understanding of renewable energy, the project has increased social acceptance of it. Moreover, involving as many people as possible shows that everybody has a part to play in solving energy issues. This, together with the municipal council’s guiding role, makes it possible to replicate the model elsewhere.
Reduced carbon footprint
Transformation of the munitions site – which was bought by the council from the government and has received investment from residents, farmers and businesses – represents an example of sustainable land use that provides a local solution to a global challenge. Saerbeck’s CO2 emissions dropped from 9.6 tonnes per resident in 2010 to 5.5 tonnes in 2014.
Although most of the park’s facilities are operational, further energy storage, energy efficiency and biomass projects are being planned there. Saerbeck is also looking to develop renewable heating and electro-mobility as part of its moves towards self-sufficiency.