A village in Germany populated by only 150 residents has completely gone off the grid by using 100 per cent local, renewable energy.
In fact, most of the energy they produce is sold to the national grid because they are only able to use a small portion of the energy they produce.
The tiny village of Feldheim is a fitting representation of Germany renewable energy initiatives that made the country the leader in green energy technology. Unlike many countries where the governments and commercial entities are negotiating for renewable energy systems, in Germany, most of the renewables are owned by private individuals.
Research show rural Germany to be the main users of renewable energy
In fact, most of the renewable energy supplies in Germany come from the rural areas, not in big cities. The figures gathered from 2013 reveal that around 74% of Germany renewable energy productions came from the country side.
The achievements of this solar and wind farms are still piling up. In the first half of 2014, the power supply of the entire country was generated by the renewables. And the amazing thing is that 90 per cent of the total renewable energy production came from German households, with their rooftop solar installations.
This fact is not really shocking if we consider that Germany has installed more per-capita solar panels than any other country in the planet.
At Feldheim, about 99 per cent of the energy generated by their wind farms is sold to the national grid. Their electricity requirement is complemented by a solar park constructed on a former Soviet military base.
During winter, the villagers get heat from a biogas plant, which is powered by fermenting animal manure and shredded corn from a local pig and cattle farm. On the coldest days, additional heat is supplied by a woodchip plant that burns forestry waste.
Rural Germany and solar company work together to finance operations
The villagers financed their renewable energy system by taking out bank loans and applying for state subsidies. They did this with the help of Energiequelle, a green power company. The project has paid off since their electricity and heating bills have significantly gone down.
Werner Frohwitter, a representative of the local energy cooperative said that the village no longer pays for 160,000 litres of oil for heating purposes every year. “This money is no longer going to Arab sheiks or (Russian President) Vladimir Putin,” said Werner. “This money is now staying right here,” he added.
Germany’s ‘Energiewende’ project will take considerable resources to materialize because of the sheer magnitude of its scope. It certainly is a bright green vision for a zero carbon future. But because of the huge investment required, it might be a gamble that may drive the country against the wall.
Plans to end nuclear by 2022
Germany plans to switch off its last nuclear plant by 2022. By the middle of the century, it hopes to meet 80 per cent of the country’s electricity requirements using renewable sources of energy.
If more villages in the rural areas follow the example set by Feldheim, Germany will certainly reach its renewable goals according to schedule.