The goal of the EU-Project EnergyRegion is the effective development of distributed renewable energy in combination with conventional energy sources. Eleven teams from four countries – from Poland, the Czech republic, Slovenia and Germany - are looking to make the energy transition happen.
This project is implemented through the CENTRAL EUROPE Programme co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund.
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Kirsten Hasberg of Energy Democracy TV is visiting the participants of EnergyRegion. She is meeting with Regine Hassenpflug of the municipality Cölbe in Hessen, Germany.
Regine Hassenplug, Municipality of Cölbe:
„How did it come about that Cölbe joined the EU-Project?“
„Cölbe has a municipal council and a mayor who already at an early stage aimed at developing an energy plan. Since, quite some things have happened. It´s great that we´re now able to measure and present it. And also show our project partners what influence this energy plan has had, what we´ve learned and what we can improve on in the future.“
As Best-Practice-Example of the Energy Region is the Solar Field of Cölbe. It produces 3.1 million kWh annually, that´s 13 % of the electricity consumption of the municipality.
Thomas Rotarius had the vision of building a solar park on the abandonned gravel pit, shunned by farmers. Since then, he leads the project on a voluntary basis.
Thomas Rotarius, Municipal Council of Cölbe:
„There must certainly be many people who admire Cölbe for a project like this one, right?“
„Yes, because we have not only achieved to bring a solar power plant online, but we´ve managed to get citizens interested in the topic and to involve them.“
„So if I´d live here, would the installation belong to me as well?“
„Yes, on the one hand because half of the system is in the ownership of the municipality. In this way, every citizen gets something out of what is harvested here. And on the other hand, individual citizens have invested their money here, in the form of shares or solar savings certificates, so they enjoy the benefits directly.
The projected returns of the Solar Field amounts to a whopping 6.8 percent. And: This money stays within the region.
Another Best Practice example example is the neighbouring town of Schönstadt. Here, surplus energy from the nearby sawmill is used to deliver hot water to households. Completely owned by citizens, the district heating system is the largest of it´s kind in Germany. Hannes Weber takes voluntary care of the new energy unit.
Hannes Weber, District Heating Schönstadt:
”We have 380 houses with heating in Schönstadt, and 280 of them are conneted to the network and are supplied with hot water. And that´s hot water coming from renewable resources!”
”And now, other municipalities are coming to you in order to learn from you?”
Yes, it´s been around eight or nine delegations from near and far. We´ve also had delegations from the Czech Republic, Poland and the Netherlands, who´ve taken a look."
The Municipality of Cölbe want´s to be Energy independent by 2040. And it could really work out. If citizens continue to actively provide ideas for the energy transition, the whole region benefits, says mayor Volker Carle.
Volker Carle, Mayor of Cölbe:
”Why is it so important to achor this transition in the region?”
”Imagine that we could by energy savings alone generate five million Euro for our small municipality. We wouldn´t spend that on Russian gas or Arabic oil, but create value right here. The municipality would be in the fantastic position not only to take money away from citizens through taxes, but to deliver added value back.”
Kirsten Hasberg has seen: In the Cölbe Region the energy transition is already taking place. Not only on paper, but first and foremost in the heads of citizens.