Located a hour’s drive south of Berlin, the tiny town of Feldheim is drawing delegations from all over the world who are interested in learning the secrets of Germany’s first and only energy self-sufficient village. Feldheim’s power comes solely from “a mix of 43 wind turbines, a woodchip-fired heating plant, and a biogas plant that uses cattle and pig slurry as well as maize silage.” For this energy, the town’s 125 residents pay just over half of what other Germans pay on average. Their costs are closer to what citizens in Poland (which relies on coal-fired plants) and the Czech Republic (which gets a third of its electricity from nuclear sources) pay.
What’s the Big Idea?
Germany has embarked on a massive effort to move away from coal and nuclear power, and has set its sights on getting 80 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2050. Feldheim’s success reflects a good deal of investment and citizen cooperation, a combination that environment minister Peter Altmaier freely admits won’t work for every municipality “but [the town] can be a role model for many rural communities.”