Municipal Electricity: Small Town in Bavaria

Ok, those Germans are just showing off now. Not only has the nation announced plans to shut down all of its nuclear power plants and started the construction of 2,800 miles of transmission lines for its new renewable energy initiative, but now the village of Wildpoldsried is producing 321% more energy than it needs! The small agricultural village in the state of Bavaria is generating an impressive $5.7 million in annual revenue from renewable energy.

It’s no surprise that the country that has kicked butt at the Solar Decathlon competition (to produce energy positive solar houses) year after year is the home to such a productive energy-efficient village.  The  village’s green initiative first started in 1997 when the village  council decided that it should build new industries, keep initiatives  local, bring in new revenue, and create no debt. Over the past 14 years,  the community has equipped nine new community buildings with solar  panels, built four biogas digesters (with a fifth in construction now) and installed seven windmills with two more on the way. In the village itself, 190 private households  have solar panels while the district also benefits from three small  hydro power plants, ecological flood control, and a natural waste water  system.


All of these green systems means that despite only having a  population of 2,600, Wildpoldsried produces 321 percent more energy than  it needs – and it’s generating 4.0 million Euro (US $5.7 million) in  annual revenue by selling it back to the national grid. It is no  surprise to learn that small businesses have developed in the village  specifically to provide services to the renewable energy installations.


Over the years the village’s green goals have been so successful that they have even crafted a mission statement — WIR–2020, Wildpoldsried Innovativ Richtungsweisend (Wildpoldsried Innovative Leadership). The village council hopes that  it will inspire citizens to do their part for the environment and create  green jobs and businesses for the local area.


As a result of the village’s success, Wildpoldsried has received  numerous national and international awards for its conservation and  renewable energy initiatives known as Klimaschutz (climate protection).  The council even hosts tours for other village councils on how to start  their own Klimaschutz program. The Mayor has even been doing global  tours ever since the Fukushima disaster.


Mayor Zengerle has gone to Romania, Berlin and the Black Sea Region  to speak about how these places can transform their communities and make  money in the process.  Speaking to Biocycle,  Mayor Zengerle said, “The mitigation of climate change in practice can  only be implemented with the citizens and with the Village Council  behind them 100 percent  of the way. This model cannot be forced from   only one side. We often spend a lot of time talking to our visitors   about how to motivate the village council (and Mayor) to start thinking   differently. We show them a best practices model in motion and many see   the benefits immediately. From the tour we give, our guests understand   how well things can operate when you have the enthusiasm and  conviction  of the people.”



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