Municipal energy management: residents take responsibility for their energy supply
In light of the energy reform, many municipalities across Germany are starting to think about how to supply their residents with heat and power in the long term.
Municipal energy management, it is hoped, will help them to become almost fully energy self-sufficient and in turn safeguard an energy supply that is sustainable and affordable. To make that happen, all residents have to be brought on board. Bioenergy villages, a successful example of civic participation and a pioneering force in energy supply, demonstrate how this can be done.
Energy management is normally the responsibility of the Federal Government, but a rising number of local authorities are starting to take charge of their own energy supply, a development known as municipal energy management. They aim to achieve energy self-sufficiency; in other words, they want to be as independent as possible of external sources of heat and power. Bioenergy villages are a good example of successful and innovative efforts to promote self-sufficiency. The concept could well spread beyond Germany.
In 2011, the German Renewable Energies Agency commissioned a survey to find out what Germans thought of renewable energies and published the results in the form of an interactive presentation on its website. The numbers speak for themselves. More than 95% of interviewees said they were in favour of more renewable energies. However, it remains unclear how the transition to an independent, sustainable energy supply system can be achieved. Municipal energy management may be a source of innovative ideas in this respect.
A prime example of innovative municipal energy management: bioenergy villages
A bioenergy village is a community that is able to meet between 50% and 100% of its demand for electricity and heat by using biomass. The Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection (BMELV) has supported efforts at local level to become energy self-sufficient for a number of years now. However, the local population plays a vital role, because it is very important for municipalities that want to become bioenergy villages to have the full support of all residents, local farmers and forestry officials, and local politicians. Full acceptance on the part of the residents is particularly important because they will later become consumers and/or plant operators.
Today there are around 250 villages and communities in Germany that are either entitled to call themselves bioenergy villages or are on their way to becoming energy self-sufficient. Every two years, the Ministry holds a competition to acknowledge the three most innovative municipal energy management schemes, awarding prizes of EUR 10,000 each.
Energy self-sufficiency in Jühnde-Barlissen
Jühnde in Lower Saxony, one of the communities to win the competition in 2010, was Germany's first ever bioenergy village. The entire community got on board. All farmers, heating consumers, the local authorities and church representatives joined forces to form a cooperative that today runs an information centre and an electric charging station with a shared e-car. In other words, Jühnde is a prime example of how municipal energy management can lead to virtual energy self-sufficiency.
Municipal energy management on Alumniportal Deutschland
The Alumniportal already has a discussion group on energy self-sufficiency where alumni from Sri Lanka, Ethiopia, Russia, Colombia and many other countries share their ideas on energy management and discuss the wide variety of approaches in their home countries.
Are residents and local authorities increasingly assuming responsibility for the energy supply where you live? What innovative ideas are being tested? Join the group of experts for renewable energy (Expertenzirkel Erneuerbare Energien) and contribute your opinions about municipal energy management!