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

Kelley C Smith smithkc at riskiii.com
Mon Feb 24 09:54:57 UTC 2014


I do not object to well-directed government subsidies, in fact, I received a small tax break when we had to replace a roof and chose shingles that were light-colored ("white" roof(. The idea being that these would not absorb as much solar radiation in the summer and would marginally decrease the need for air-conditioning in the home, and would reduce the urban heat island effect in the surrounding neighborhood. Often "subsidies" can make up for what would otherwise be negative externalities or spillover costs or whatever you call them. 

What I do question is things like electric cars (for reasons I explained) and I don't know about wind turbines. I think they're great, but what about the energy to manufacture them? Where do you get that? I'm not an engineer….. maybe this isn't a worry. I really like bicycles and other pedal-powered vehicles, but it does take a lot of energy to refine steel, not to mention other metals that are part of today's lightweight bicycles. As much as like bikes, maybe horses are a more truly sustainable form of transportation. I don't quite know…..but I am interested in some of the issues Andrew raised.

I know some people dismiss externalities or spillover benefits/costs as nonexistent. I think they are very real. So, I don't object with a system of subsidies or tax penalties to deal with them ….whatever is appropriate. I do think this would always be subject to a lot of politicking and would be fairly difficult in practice. Doesn't mean it shouldn't be done. 

My only misgivings about wind turbines / solar panes and other techno-fix-it things is the FULL lifecycle cost ( energy for manufacture , use, disposal, recycling…)

That's all for me.

Kelley


On Feb 23, 2014, at 9:28 AM, "Bob Waldrop" <music at epiphanyokc.com> wrote:

> I don’t understand what the problem is with subsidies. Why is a money subsidy considered bad? I don’t believe that our primitive accounting systems accurately report the monetary cost of anything.  Generally, accusations of “subsidy” are simply a politicized way to refer to bad mouth investment in something someone doesn’t like. 
>  
> When I built out my walls to get 9 inches of insulation, and put 14 inches in the attic, and then installed 120 sq ft of glass on the south wall of my house, I subsidized the reduction of the energy operating costs of that dwelling for the rest of its useful life.  It cost. . . hmmm. . . $14K or so including the doors and windows and weather stripping and caulk and etc (plus considerable personal labor by my roomies and me).  Or I could say that I invested $14K and now I reap a non-taxable dividend every month in the form of energy I don’t have to buy, which means more money in my pocket for doing something else.
> 
> This village in Germany decided to subsidize. . . or invest. . . in their own local energy solutions.  Not sure what there is to complain about that.
> 
> Bob Waldrop, OKC
>  
> On Feb 21, 2014, at 12:51 PM, "Crews, Andrew J." <a.crews888 at ou.edu> wrote:
> 
> 
> Bob,
> 
>    "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, 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.
> 
> http://sacredfast.blogspot.com/2014/02/energy-101.html
>  
> Best Wishes,
> Andrew Crews
>  
> From: Ok-sus [ok-sus-bounces at lists.oksustainability.org] on behalf of Bob Waldrop [bob at bobwaldrop.net]
> Sent: Friday, February 21, 2014 11:25 AM
> To: ok-sus at lists.oksustainability.org; okc at sustainableokc.com; 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
>  
> http://ecowatch.com/2014/02/20/german-village-independent-grid-renewable-energy-future/
>  
> How a German Village Created an Independent Grid and a Renewable Energy Future
> 
> Rocky Mountain Institute | February 20, 2014 9:09 am | Comments
>  889 2
>  
>  0 986
> By Laurie Guevara-​Stone
> Regardless of debate about the success of Germany’s renewables revolution, 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 energyvillage 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, 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.
> <image001.jpg>
> Photo credit: Energiequelle
> That same year, the town of Feldheim and Energiequelle established a joint venture, 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 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 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 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 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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