In the region full of energy: Waldviertel Kernland

Ottenschlag: a PV installation on a school building roof - the whole group of visitors was captivated by a very clever model of businessman-municipality co-operation.
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We drove for an inspiration to the model oasis Waldviertel Kernland
Once we say the region is situated in the Lower Austria everybody knows, that we are talking about sustainable energy. Fifteen of us were brought there thanks to a study travel (ST) in the frame of the European project “Towards 100% RES rural communities”. Municipalities, heading to be energy self-sufficient in electricity and heat consumption, participate in it. They submit their ambition by signing the Covenant of Mayors, which must be followed by processing of the Sustainable Energy Action Plan (SEAP) within a year from the sign. Performance of SEAP recommendation should guarantee, that the municipality is going to decrease CO2 emissions by at least 20% by 2020 thanks to energy savings and RES utilization. Project participants countries, which are less experienced in this field, learn from those more efficient - so the Czech Republic from their Austrian neighbours, specifically from villages of Waldfiertel Kernland region laying ca 70 km south from the Czech boarder.

ST with 12 stops started on 17th September in Ottenschlag, where a team of project partner awaited us. During cognitional dinner in a castle restaurant, offering us excellent regional delicacies, the local region was introduced to us very deeply. Then we presented a Czech considered region (Bojkovsko around Hostětín village, eventually Kněžicko in Nymburk region). A two-days marathon around different RES installations began next morning. Eight oases of green energy plus four very attractive for tourists are expecting us. All of them came into existence as a result of well-considered way towards energy self-sufficiency and boom of the region, which used to be economically weak before. Municipalities needed financial support, very powerful regional movers and of course good projects. They have been growing up during 10 years and today can be shown proudly. We hardly manage to make notes about interesting approaches, used methods or arguments as well as about other green plans of local communities. Everybody can choose inspiration by himself regarding his conditions – mayors and technical staff of Zlín region municipalities, mayor of our almost self-sufficient Kněžice village from Nymburk region with his colleagues, even us, partners and organizers around the CityPlan company, who co-ordinates project activities in the Czech Republic.

We got main information about RES installation in writing and a lot of others right from Georg Carl Priesner (project leader from the Vienna office of Klimabündnis (Climate Alliance Austria, national project coordinator)), Dieter Holzer (chairman of (big) LEADER region “Südliches Waldviertel Nibelungengau” (33 villages), chairman of (small) model climate-region Waldviertler Kernland(13 villages) and deputy mayor of Ottenschlag village) and Thomas Waldhans (dipl. engineer, who is an energetic and edifying manager of the model region).

Some of us gobble technical details about arrangements and sources some filed crucial inspiration. Definitely worth mentioning are at least:

An energy vision of a region as a triumph – it had arisen during 7 months with the help of an energy agency. Now 13 500 inhabitants from 13 villages know exactly, which energy sources they will need, how much of energy and CO2 emissions they can spare till 2030 including possibilities, financial requirements, benefits or risks. “With this concept in hand can our model-region, in a role of a guarantee, support our people or municipalities requests for loans or subsidy for their energy investments more effectively,“ says Mr. Holzer and adds: “Moreover it will be not so hard to transform our concept into the SEAP now.”

Farmer Mr. Thomas Mustebauer in Matinsberg scored with the energy concept of the model-region applying for a loan for a biogas power plant installation (electrical output of 100 kW and heat production of 1 million kWh per year) - it heats big green houses with vegetable and family house too.

A photovoltaic installation (20 kWp on the roof of a school in Ottenschlag, realized by a local energy pioneer, who will devolve it upon the municipality after 13 years for free) with six effects – educational for scholars, promotional and commercial for the stakeholder, better “energy card” and financial effect for the municipality (once it get the system in its possession) and finally for us, potential followers, legally well treated contract, which copy we can take with us.

During the way we got more similar arguments, which will come in useful at home during our discussions with mayors, e.g. from:
- a service station in Ottenschlag with a biomass heating plant and solar installations on the roof,
- a municipality biomass heating plant,
- an ecologically heated spa in Ottenschlag,
- a project of public lightening modernization with LED diodes in Martinsberg,
- a heat retrieving from waste bath or raining water etc.
We can add touristic enticements like “poppy seed village” Mohndorf or “whisky world” in Roggenhof.

We believe most of us will definitely visit this region once again to show other Czech people, that massive development of green energy has not to be an encumbrance but could be a source and condition of upswing.

Text, photos: on behalf of the Czech project team Karel Merhaut
Note: wider version with more details about all visited installation is available in the Czech article.

Martinsberg: Mr. Thomas Mustebauer, owner of a green house heated by biogas power plant, explains technical details of the installation. Mayor of Kněžice village, Mr. Milan Kazda, listens to him adversely.
Grafenschlag: the energetic of model-region, Mr. Thomas Waldhans, shows a recuperative panel, which sucks a fresh air in a classroom.
Ottenschlag: a local pioneer of alternatives methods, Mr. Franz Führer, boasts about his car with an electric engine, fed with electricity from a PV installations on a roof of his family house.