[Ok-sus] How a German village disconnected from the grid and created its own grid fueled by renewable energy

Crews, Andrew J. a.crews888 at ou.edu
Sun Feb 23 17:22:29 UTC 2014


Thanks for the input!  I am going to try to break them up into less than 1000 word post in the future to make them more accessible.

Unfortunately, when I confront this "Religion of Progress," people immediately take a sharp turn into polar opposite direction and end up with the whole cavemen/ "were screwed" rhetoric.  The level of technology i'm suggesting would look something like the Victorian Era and Age of Sail with much greater access to durable materials like metal.  Hardly the miserable scrapping by of a Hollywood zombie apocalypse. Unfortunately the more people try to hang onto this vision of technological progress the more they ignore some of the more practical and simple application out there that could assist in our de-industrial future.

Best Wishes,
Andrew Crews
From: Ok-sus [ok-sus-bounces at lists.oksustainability.org] on behalf of Kelley C Smith [smithkc at riskiii.com]
Sent: Saturday, February 22, 2014 8:29 AM
To: ok-sus at lists.oksustainability.org
Subject: Re: [Ok-sus] How a German village disconnected from the grid and created its own grid fueled by renewable energy


I enjoyed looking over your blog.  Good work.

I have been troubled by the claims of the "renewables" industry as well. The way I would phrase it….is…I want to see a full lifecycle analysis. That is, I became accustomed to the concept of "ecological footprint." I like the footprint idea, but it seems to me that the devil is in the details. What does and does not count in the footprint?

For example, electric cars…. at one time, many people promoted these as the answer for nearly everything. The trouble is, that electricity has to be generated somehow. And somewhere. Then, it has to be transmitted along power lines…and there are substantial line losses depending on distance and temperature (higher losses in hot summer weather). Overall, most engineers who thought much about my question told me that the ecological footprint of an electric car would be just as big if not bigger than a conventional car. Now, the pollution is displaced. No one in the city has to choke on car smog…..

Likewise, I wonder about the energy necessary to manufacture solar panels, big giant wind turbines…..things you have mentioned in your blog. OTOH, here in Oklahoma, we might be able to come up with some form of biogas with all the farm animals we have. I'm not ready to rule that one out yet, but I don't know much about it, and I don't know if it takes a huge scale operation to make it work.

Of course, many people would say you are trying to take us back to "cave-man times." I;m sure you've heard this.  :-)

The German village still seems like a step up from where we are now, but I'm always glad to see different ideas. For sure, the German village would avoid line losses by delivering power to their village. Of course, if they start sending power into a national grid,…..

ISeems there are no easy answers and little political will to deal with any real problem.


On Feb 21, 2014, at 12:51 PM, "Crews, Andrew J." <a.crews888 at ou.edu<mailto:a.crews888 at ou.edu>> wrote:


   "The Feldheim project dates back to 1995, when a local entrepreneur paid for the first wind turbines to be installed on nearby fields, the highest (and windiest) flat ground in the state of Brandenburg. Next, the village bought its own electricity grid, severing ties with the regional grid and the major national provider that operates it. This vital transition required a steep initial investment of €2.2 million, financed through one-off connection fees paid by local homeowners together with subsidies of €850,000 provided by the German government and European Union. Finally, the village forged links both with local power firm Energiequelle GmbH<http://www.energiequelle.de/index.php/en/>, which agreed to install a fleet of wind turbines in return for the right to sell excess power back on the market, and with a regional agricultural cooperative, which put up over 350 hectares of land to grow corn required for biogas."

Things like this are only possible when people massively subsidize a  project.

Sorry, it appears this is completely unrealistic and the kind of captivating illusion that is only workable on  a small scale with lots of outside help.  It is not a reasonable or sustainable model for our energy future.  However, people can get along just fine with low tech energy technologies.  If your interested I just created a post on my blog about energy.


Best Wishes,
Andrew Crews

From: Ok-sus [ok-sus-bounces at lists.oksustainability.org<mailto:ok-sus-bounces at lists.oksustainability.org>] on behalf of Bob Waldrop [bob at bobwaldrop.net<mailto:bob at bobwaldrop.net>]
Sent: Friday, February 21, 2014 11:25 AM
To: ok-sus at lists.oksustainability.org<mailto:ok-sus at lists.oksustainability.org>; okc at sustainableokc.com<mailto:okc at sustainableokc.com>; RunningOnEmpty2 at yahoogroups.com<mailto:RunningOnEmpty2 at yahoogroups.com>
Subject: [Ok-sus] How a German village disconnected from the grid and created its own grid fueled by renewable energy

OK, I know it’s not perfect.  Presumably there are fossil fuels embedded in the manufacture of the components.  But the operating energy for this village is all renewable, and that seems to me to indicate a sensible and conservative use for fossil fuels.  Use them to build infrastructure which is then operated by renewable energies.

Bob Waldrop, OKC


How a German Village Created an Independent Grid and a Renewable Energy Future
Rocky Mountain Institute<http://blog.rmi.org/blog_2014_02_19_renewables_power_a_rural_german_village> | February 20, 2014 9:09 am | Comments<http://ecowatch.com/2014/02/20/german-village-independent-grid-renewable-energy-future/#comments>
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By Laurie Guevara-​Stone
Regardless of debate<http://blog.rmi.org/separating_fact_from_fiction_in_accounts_of_germanys_renewables_revolution> about the success of Germany’s renewables revolution<http://ecowatch.com/2014/01/21/wind-subsidy-cuts-germanys-energy/>, there is no denying that a small town in the corner of rural eastern Germany, 40 miles south of Berlin, may be one of the best examples of decentralized self-sufficiency.
Feldheim (population: 150), in the cash-strapped state of Brandenburg, was a communist collective farm back when Germany was still divided into East and West. Now, it is a model renewable energy<http://ecowatch.com/category/business/renewable-business/>village putting into practice Germany’s vision of a renewably powered future.
In 1995, a local entrepreneur paid for Feldheim’s first wind turbine. As farmers started to worry when prices for their milk, potatoes, and beets began to fall and energy prices started to rise, they learned they could earn cash by renting their land to energy companies wanting to install a wind turbine. A local renewable energy company, Energiequelle GmbH<http://www.energiequelle.de/index.php/en/>, saw the potential as well, and decided to install a wind farm in Feldheim. Forty-three wind turbines with an installed capacity of 74.1 megawatt (MW) soon dotted the Feldheim landscape, providing income to farmers who leased their land to the energy company.
Renewable fervor was catching on, and in 2008 Energiequelle bought a 111-acre former Soviet military site about five miles from Feldheim, cleaned up the toxic military waste and hidden ammunition and constructed a 284-panel solar farm that produces over 2,700 MW hours per year. Its power is fed into the grid at the feed-in-tariff rate.
Photo credit: Energiequelle
That same year, the town of Feldheim and Energiequelle established a joint venture<http://www.downtoearth.org.in/content/germany-transition?page=0,2&quicktabs_1=1>, called Feldheim Energie GmbH & Co. The new company built a biogas factory that converts pig manure and unused corn into heat, taking advantage of the community’s 700 pigs and 1,700 acres of arable farmland. The biogas plant is fed from the town’s agricultural cooperative and produces of electricity a year. A 400-kilowatt, wood-chip furnace fueled by the byproduct of forest thinning helps to firm the power from wind and biogas.
By 2009 Feldheim was producing all its own energy with renewable sources. Residents then wanted to take things a step further and free themselves from the large utility company, E.on, which was supplying the grid.
E.on refused to either sell or lease the part of its energy grid that ran through Feldheim. So the people took the matter into their own hands, and decided to build their own. Each of the 150 residents contributed 3,000 Euros (~$4,000 at today’s exchange rates) so that they could build their own smart grid. With help from Energiequelle<http://www.energiequelle.de/index.php/en/our-flagship-projects/248-energieautarkes-dorf-feldheim-e> and financing from the European Union and government subsidies, the smart grid was completed in 2010, making Feldheim then the only town in Germany with its own mini-grid. This allows the locally produced heat and electricity to be fed straight to consumers and gives them control over their electrical prices, which are set at community meetings.
They now pay 31 percent less<http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/green-living/feldheim-a-hamlet-swept-by-the-winds-of-change-7631152.html> for electricity and 10 percent less for heating than before. The town consumes less than one percent of the electricity produced annually by its wind turbines and solar panels, selling the rest back to the market. This lowers their electricity bills to around half the national average. The biogas plant not only sells electricity back to the market, but also supplies the entire community with heating, saving over 160,000 liters<http://geolog.egu.eu/2013/12/04/the-energy-self-sufficient-village-of-feldheim-a-pioneer-within-germanys-energy-transition/> of heating oil each year. As an added benefit, the plant produces over three million gallons of high-quality fertilizer annually that the agricultural cooperative uses.
Feldheim has also installed a plug-and-pay EV charging station in the town center, and next plans to install a 10-MW battery later this year. The storage will help balance the community microgrid’s generation and load.
There are now more wind turbines than houses in the town. While residents don’t mind the noise or aesthetics of the wind turbines, there has been some opposition from neighboring towns, which didn’t—until recently—directly benefit from the wind farm. “In order to make neighbors feel more at ease with the wind farm, we are offering power at a special rate,” Energiequelle spokesman Werner Frohwitter told Rocky Mountain Institute. “Our aim is to let as many people as possible directly benefit from our turbines, thus encouraging social acceptance for renewable energies.”
All the renewable projects also created jobs. While other villages in the economically depressed state of Brandenburg have roughly a 30 percent <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/29/feldheim-germany-renewable_n_1173992.html> unemployment rate, Feldheim virtually erased its unemployment. Most residents work in the biogas plant or maintain the wind and solar farms. And the town, which has not a single museum or restaurant, has seen an influx of visitors. Three thousand people visit the small town of 150 each year. This has prompted the foundation of a new organization, Förderverein des Neuen Energieforums Feldheim (Friends of the New Energies Forum Feldheim), which is converting an old inn into a renewable energy information and training center. The hope is that when the center opens in the fall of 2014 it will bring even more visitors to Feldheim, generating more jobs and income for the villagers.
Feldheim has proven that a high-renewables energy future is possible today. “There have been and are still occurring remarkable changes (in Feldheim),” says Frohwitter. The small town is thriving thanks to its confidence in renewable energy technologies.

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