5000% Renewable Town
Photo credit: G3 Going Green Germany
Photo credit: alternativtechnik.de
Photo credit: devonecoenergy
100% Renewable Energy Goal Achieved:
5000% Renewable Electricity
Kronprinzenkoog, a town of 900 inhabitants near the North Sea in Germany, installed its first wind turbines in the 1980's. In 2009, 150 kw-500kw 77 turbines were replaced with more powerful, more efficient 2-3 MW models. Today, these windmills feed about 200 million kwh into the grid, enough to power 50,000 German homes.
Two of the windmills are citizen owned and were financed by the Mayor asking citizens to invest 750,000 Euros. 140 villagers ended putting in 3.6 million Euros because the investment seemed so appealing, and they are now receiving a 15-20% return on their investment.
The main reason the people of Kronprinzenkoog are able to enjoy such attractive returns is the German feed-in tariff law (The Renewable Sources Act also known as the EEG) put in place at the turn of this century, which guarantees that anyone who produces renewable electricity will be paid a fixed rate for the type of renewable electricity they feed into the grid for 20 years. This law also guarantees access of renewable energy projects into the grid and makes utilities pay for any necessary grid upgrades. In other words, the EEG allows regular people to become power producers and get paid properly. The law levels the playing field for renewable energies and removes barriers to them being treated differently from nuclear, coal and natural gas plants, which traditionally are paid a rate equal to the cost of producing the power plus a reasonable return. With the EEG, electric--and financial--power is returned to the people. In addition to the feed-in tariff law, Germany has created highly efficient and simple permitting processes for renewable electricity that speed up installation compared to some other places like the U.S.
A 500 kw biogas plant on a farm in the town produces enough energy to power 3200 German households, and 7117 kw of solar PV have also been installed in the Kronprinzenkoog in recent years. Most solar roofs are paid back within 10 years, after which owners get to keep the profits.
In an effort to move the town towards renewable transportation, the town opened an electric bike/car rental facility powered by, of course, a solar rooftop. The investor in the project made an agreement with the villagers that in exchange for opening the rental facility, he must volunteer to teach the local students about renewable energy.
Next steps for Kronprinzenkoog include a carport with a solar powered electric charging station that the Mayor envisions expanding to a string of similar stations for electric vehicles along the whole German north coast. The goal is to engage tourists in a 100 percent renewable energy experience, while achieving energy independence.