Feldheim, the first energy self-sufficient village

In the small village of Feldheim, an hour south of Berlin, calls to save energy resonate differently than in the rest of the country. This municipality, without a school and without trade, but with many farms, is almost self-sufficient in energy. Here there is neither gas heating nor electricity produced from hydrocarbons. The village of 130 inhabitants has 55 wind turbines, most of them of the latest generation, over 200 meters high and almost silent.

On the rare days without wind, a biogas station, created by the agricultural cooperative, takes over. It also provides a source of heat for the inhabitants. Another characteristic of Feldheim: it is one of the rare municipalities that has been able to create its own electricity and gas network and has therefore experienced a reduction in the charges imposed on users of traditional networks. Consequence: this year, residents pay 12 euro cents per kilowatt hours of electricity, three times less than the national average.

Green and cheaper energy

“Our residents benefit from green energy, produced on site and much cheaper than elsewhere. In the current situation, it is less of a concern for those who welcomes Mayor Michael Knape. Here, the state has delegated responsibility to the citizens and enabled us to achieve energy independence. The idea is that those who bear the burden – in this case supporting wind turbines that aren’t particularly pretty – should benefit financially. It worked well here. »

First wind turbine in 1994

Feldheim got there thanks to a student, Michael Raschemann. He installed the first wind turbines there in 1994, before setting up the company Energiequelle, which manages the current wind farm. “He wanted to build four wind turbines and proposed to the inhabitants of Feldheim and neighboring municipalities to invest in a fifth”, says Kathleen Thompson, a professional guide who welcomes hundreds of visitors a year.

“It was very intelligent, because then, as still today, there were opponents of wind turbines. When you involve people from the beginning of the project, it helps,” she adds. Feldheim was then a municipality in debt. The project will see the light of day thanks to the financial support of its inhabitants as well as assistance from the EU and the federal state. Today, the village produces 250 million kilowatt hours per year and consumes only 1 million. The rest goes into the general network and can supply a city with 55,000 inhabitants.

“Less bureaucracy”

For the mayor, this is the model “of course transferable elsewhere”, though “every society is different”. “All municipalities have their own resources, they must be used”, judge Michael Knape, who particularly criticizes Bayern, which has long withheld the installation of wind turbines and preferred “build large electric highways to receive electricity produced in northern Germany”. According to him, “The ecological transition will only be achieved through the multiplication of decentralized projects” as in Feldheim, and above all “with less bureaucracy”.

This is exactly what the federal government is advocating, which wants to speed up administrative procedures to produce 80% of its electricity from renewable energy by 2030. “It is no longer possible that it will take more than five years to be able to build wind farms, confirms Alexander Freier, spokesman for Energiequelle. It seems that the government is moving in the right direction, but the pace still needs to be increased. Unfortunately, current events are showing us where our energy addiction is taking us. »

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