Creating prosperity and energy independence through community investments.
We recently visited a small town in Germany, called Searbeck. What is unique about this town is that most of their energy needs are supplied through renewable energy. Their goal is to 100% energy independence by 2030.
Searbeck is a small town, or “Dorf” as they say in German, of about 7 100 people. Located about 25 km North of Münster.
Back in 2008, the members of the town decided to invest in renewable energy and become more energy independent. It was a big project and a long process, but today they are well on their way to achieve this goal.
The community created a co-operative to make this possible. Community members then invested in this co-operative. in other words, the residents of Saerbeck funded the project – a great investment, which will not only give them a good monetary return in their investment, but also contribute to a healthier environment and a safer world.
How they did it.
This was achieved using a combination of technologies: Solar power, battery energy storage, wind power, biogas plant, and wood pellets.
An old military ammunitions storage facility was converted to a “Bio-energy park”
They installed Solar panels on top of the old bunkers, and batteries inside the bunkers. The also installed Windmills and a bio-gas facility next to the solar farm.
Incentives offered to towns people encouraged them to install solar power, with storage, on their home.
Combining small and large scale energy generation.
The combination of individual energy generation and central energy generation works the best. Most homes do not have enough roof space, or roof space facing in the right direction to install solar panels on to generate enough energy for the house. Also, homes can only install solar power and storage, it is mostly not feasible for them to install wind power or biogas power on such a small scale.
The large central plant has the following advantages:
- it can generate energy from solar panels facing the correct direction;
- large windmills are more cost effective;
- cost effeciciency achieved through scale for the solar, wind, battery and gas;
- the possibility to install biogas, and wind at this scale;
- dedicated support and maintenance personnel.
Thus individuals who do not have the right roof space, and who want to contribute, can invest in this central power plant. Also, individuals who already invested in a large solar plant and storage on their homes can additionally invest in the large central power plant.
The municipality constructed the “bio-energy-park” with funding from the community investment fund. The town is saving huge amounts on energy costs each month and has greatly reduced their CO2 emissions due to this project.
The park produces a total of 29 MW. Because they use a combination of technology, this energy can be supplied 24/7, 365 days of the year.
Schools and universities in the area also use the park for educational purposes. With this project, they created a world-class example of what is possible, and people from all over the world have come and visit to see how it was done.