Aller-Leine-Valley: A Region Relying on Its Natural Strengths
In February 2012, the Energy Region+ Aller-Leine Valley published its Exemplary Energy Study for the energy consumption and the region’s supply of at least 100% from renewable energy sources. The study mainly concludes that the region in the power sector already has achieved the desired ‘100%’ and exports its renewable energy surplus to surrounding villages. For the region, the heat sector is the most important challenge. Here, the study shows a large backlog demand, but at the same time suggests to cover the region’s heat requirements using geothermal energy, biomass and flowing water heat.
© Energie Study Aller-Leine Valley 2012
In a number of workshops and citizen forums, the Lower Saxony region, consisting of eight smaller communities, more closely analysed the measures proposed by the study of the 100% RES Communities project. The region’s policy makers finally agreed to prioritize the renewable energy measures listed below:
Medium-depth geothermal – particularly with about 1,000m drilled probes from high-level salt domes – in combination with a local heat network
The pilot project in the energy study for the village of Övelgönne was computed. Here about 70% (equivalent to 1,619 MWh/a) of the natural gas consumption may be reduced. Already after the publication of the energy study for the municipalities of Hodenhagen and Hambühren, feasibility studies were commissioned. In addition, there was a dialogue with local participants and citizens in the municipality of Rethem, which also led to consider a feasibility study. In further communities, citizen surveys for the evaluation of the general support for these measures had been conducted. Furthermore, the 100%RES workshops contributed to a more detailed review of the recent technical, economical and legal details of the measures and took the practical experiences of experts into consideration.
Heat generated from the Aller for the supply of a village using a centralized heat pump and a local heat network:
The steering committee of the Energy Region+ reached an agreement on the location of the pilot project for the local heat supply of an entire village based on flowing water heat in Hedern, a district of the municipality of Frankenfeld, belonging to the group of communities of Rethem. The natural gas consumption in the chosen area may be reduced by 68% (equivalent to 937 MWh/a). In the meantime, 100%RES workshops chose several appropriate localities along the Aller that would be eligible for the measure. Furthermore, the technical, water-law, and economic frameworks were evaluated.
PV Storage Solutions: Power Generation and Storage
The surveys within the framework of the energy study showed that the potential of photovoltaic systems on residential and commercial buildings in the region have not yet been fully utilized. As part of the 100%RES workshop in the region, contacts to companies that work in the field of energy storage systems and solutions have already been established, one of which is located in the Aller-Leine Valley. Moreover, a number of experts were invited who informed the policy makers both about new developments (EEC 2.0) and their implication for the Aller-Leine Valley, as well as about new business models. In other German communities, interesting pilot projects for this issue have been identified. During one workshop, a promising project using an e-mobility PV storage solution was presented. At the moment, there is not yet any need to initiate a feasibility study.
© Energie Study Aller-Leine Valley 2012
A key role in the selection of the measures was the criterion to apply a regional approach to the solution of the question for a heat supply from renewable energy sources. Additionally, the measures must be able to be integrated into the regional development concept of the Aller-Leine Valley, must contribute to the regional value creation within the region and, at the same time, must be politically supported by all eight communities involved. Another criterion, which might not seem as important at first glance but which should not be underestimated, is the role-model function of a given project. Those familiar with the energy region know that the Aller-Leine Valley is already relatively advanced in reaching full coverage of renewable energy, and is proud of it. RE plays a key role in the tourism of the region, and it finds support among the majority of the region’s residents. By planning to take these measures, the Aller-Leine Valley certainly hopes to keep up its reputation as a pioneer in the regional energy revolution movement.
Which Positive Effects Result from the Planned Measures?
In addition to the aspect of regional value creation, a priority is the political objective to utilise the region’s natural energy resources for its energy needs and thereby strengthen the region’s resilience. Also, even though this is not yet a stated objective, the expansion of RE will significantly reduce the greenhouse gas emission in the region.
Which Methods Contributed to the Successful Selection of the Measures?
- Model calculations of the ALV energy study (pre-selection of appropriate measures)
- In-depth consultations with experts
- Moderated group discussions for the decision making (such as choosing locations for the flowing water heat with the help of maps)
- Identification of key persons (spearheads and disseminators), and initiation of focus group discussions
- Broad involvement of participants (citizens, local companies, mayors of the communities, artisanal enterprises, local credit banks, University of Hanover, state ministry)
- Attendance at specialists’ conferences (especially in technology and funding matters)
- Collaboration with other external partner organizations of the ALV (e.g. KoRiS) in order to avoid double activities and to successfully acquire the funding of the measures from public project funds.