Kněžice and others have shown the way to small communities
Day of recipes for energy self-sufficiency aroused also the interest in the project ‘100% RES communities’
The more preposterous the energy policy of last Czech governments is, the more perceptible, it seems, is the growing interest of prudent municipalities to move towards energy self-sufficiency! The major is pressure from above to fix position of the fossil-nuclear lobby, the more attentive is listening of mayors and their teams to trends, opportunities and living examples of the application of clean renewable energy and energy savings.
That was the theme of all-day conference ‘On the path to energy self-sufficiency of municipalities and regions’, which was organized by the Austrian Cultural Forum together with AF-CityPlan, the League of Ecological Alternatives (LEA), Climate Coalition and the Calla Association with the support of the Austrian Embassy in Prague, Heinrich Boell Stiftung, Stefan Batory Foundation, the program Intelligent Energy Europe and the project 100%-RES-communities on 19 June in Prague.
Around 70 participants from towns, cities, regions, public administrations and media heard out not only recap of advantages and multiple benefits that, at a time of rising energy prices, supply problems from unstable territories and agricultural problems, offer orientation on energy self-sufficiency. They had the opportunity to familiarize themselves thoroughly with specific examples of such approaches from three countries - the Czech Republic, Austria and Germany. There was also even warning of errors, risks, not calculated and therefore unrealistic expectations.
Immediately after the initial general mapping of possibilities and limits of such direction in viewpoint of an energy consultant were guests present intrigued by performance of Mr. Milan Kazda, mayor of the increasingly well-known village Kněžice in Nymburk region. It is the only de facto energy self-sufficient municipality in the Czech Republic thanks to bio-energy centre with a biogas power plant with CHP and biomass plant. Since the village does not have a sewer system this technology processes most of the organic waste and slurry, provides almost full coverage of heat needs for citizens and offers significant surplus production of electricity sold to the grid. Not surprisingly, various awards pour into the small village of about 500 inhabitants (in the last place the Czech price of Eurosolar last year), but also permanent representatives, who are looking for guidance and inspiration.
Rather than dissecting of technological parameters and finesses of the local installation an organizational and financial ‘Odyssey’, which resulted in the success of the project, was presented on the forum. Another municipality plan about energy recovery of biodegradable municipal waste (mostly from gardeners) in the form of dry fermentation attracted participants. Kněžice has also a vision to create a local energy grid. It can inspire also with an on-going effort to develop, together with four neighbouring municipalities, joint Sustainable Energy Action Plan (joint SEAP). Thanks to Kněžice deposit all municipalities will be able to fulfil common requirement of reducing CO2 emissions, increasing RES utilization and energy savings by min. 20% by 2020. This is the responsibility of signing of the European Covenant of Mayors and the main purpose of the project 100%-RES-communities, which part of the MAS Mezilesí (currently composed of Kněžice and four neighbouring villages) participates in.
Mr. Karel Merhaut on behalf of organizational tandem AF-CityPlan / LEA presented closer framework, tasks and current events of this European project (supported by the IEE). He recalled, that the Prague ‘local’ conference (in small proportions of the Czech Republic is in fact every conference local!) is followed immediately by ‘face-to-face meeting’ with Austrian partners in Kněžice, the project team is finishing region baseline emission inventory and preparing an energy day, respectively local participatory forum with stakeholders and citizens to consider concrete steps and investments foreseen in the joint SEAP. He also introduced the development of the national RURENER club headed the very Mr. Kazda from Kněžice. All fans of sustainable ‘soft’ communal energy are welcome to exchange their experience.
Afterwards according to conference program the Austrian guests presented their specific procedures and results, both for climate Energy region Waldviertel Kernlad, already self-sufficient for 40%, and for more than a hundred similarly oriented model regions of the country, which are protected by Climate Alliance Austria.
The achieved results attracted a great response, as the country belongs among leaders of Europe in this endeavour. Just like Germany, whose stars of sustainable energy were introduced by Mr. Michael Knape, mayor Treuenbrietzen-Feldheim (energy self-sufficient village) and mayor of Alheim Georg Lüdtke, which enlightened the energy self-sufficiency path of community and region Mittleres Fuldatal. Both presentations captivated with technologies and results that are still dreams of the future in our country.
E.g. Feldheim is the first German village where they set up their electricity network, which is convenient for renewable energy sources. They connected to it houses, waterworks, but the church or private individuals, who have expressed interest. After they failed to overcome the reluctance of E.ON to sell them a portion of the network they started to build a parallel local network.
Alheim, a small town of Hesse, is proud of the fact that they produce already 73% of the required energy from renewable sources - wind, sun, water and biogas. They test even advanced technology capable to store electricity from wind power...
All the home fans of clean energy could be discouraged by many of our neighbours’ actions thanks to their technical and financial requirements. However, partners from both countries affirm our municipality representatives that they can start with quite effective ‘down to earth’ measures - like the so-called community energy accounting - monitor energy consumption and its movements over time in community buildings in more detail, which soon leads to clarification of the most effective saving and investment measures. These are the first steps on the path to both energy independence and emissions saving.
Author: Karel Merhaut
Photo: Táňa Dutkevičová, Fledheim, Alheim