Aller-Leine-Valley with Eight Municipalities to Brussels
The Aller-Leine Valley, a region in Lower Saxony, is one of the first German regions in the intra-municipality group that has applied to the Covenant of Mayors (CoM), submitting a so-called ‘Joint Sustainable Energy Action Plan’ (SEAP). In the months prior to this application, an inclusion of the Aller-Leine Valley at the CoM had failed because the Brussels CoM office had provided no concrete solution for an inclusion procedure of a self-established LEADER+ Energy Region such as the Aller-Leine Valley. Now, however, after an an alteration of the inclusion policies, nothing stands in the way of the Aller-Leine Valley joining the CoM.
The CoM is an official European initiative whose signatories committed themselves to the goal of increasing the energy efficiency and utilising renewable energies. Founded by the European Commission in 2008, it is the objective of the CoM to lower the output of carbon dioxide by more than 20 percent by the year 2020, as has been the goal of the ‘2020 Climate and Energy Package’ put forth by the European Union. So far, 5645 communities in Europe have signed the convention. An Energy Cooperation without Borders!
This year in March the Aller-Leine Valley will submit its sustainable energy action plan (SEAP) in Brussels. A total of eight (joint) municipalities of the Energy Region+ Aller-Leine Valley are involved (Ahlden, Rethem/Allerl, Schwarmstedt, Municipality of Hambühren, Wietze, Winsen/all, Dörverden, and Kirchlinteln), which all the share the conviction that their ambitious goal of achieving 100 percent renewable energy can only be reached by working together. It should be noted that the eight municipalities cover an area that is spread across three rural districts: the Heidekreis, the County of Celle, and the County of Verden. This means they do not constitute a political unit. What unites these different municipalities is the river landscape of the Aller and the Leine. The green scenery not only attracts cycling tourists but is also the basis for renewable energy in the Aller-Leine Valley.
The RE activities are part of a long-term regional development. The initiative ‘Renewable Energies’, which is active to this day, was already founded in the 1990s in the Aller-Leine Valley. Since then, a number of projects have been implemented for getting the public involved and pushing forward the energy revolution. Among them are the construction of a citizen wind turbine, communal solar energy systems, solar land register, pilot projects in the fields of geothermal energy, biogas, and wood firing, construction of a kindergarten that covers 100 percent of its power and heat requirements from geothermal and solar energy, Energy Explorer Days, a regional energy route with more than forty stops as well as numerous school projects, and, last not least, the Energy Experience Trail.
From the Energy Study to the SEAP
In 2012, the energy study ‘The Aller-Leine Valley on Its Path to a 100% Energy Region+’ was authored in order to take up the earlier activities in the Aller-Leine Valley, refine them and create a basis for a targeted approach for the energy turnaround. The long-term objective of the Aller-Leine Valley is to turn it into a ‘Plus Energy Region’ by consistently using renewable energies and realising their energy saving potentials – thus, into a region that is socially compatible and produces energy in harmony with its citizens and the environment. The goal is to produce more than the region consumes, being able to share it with other regions, particularly with urban centres.
In February 2012, the Aller-Leine Valley became a German reference region within the EC project 100%RES Communities. As part of the project, three very promising renewable energy measures were identified (in the areas of geothermic, flow heat, and PV storage solutions) that will be further pushed forward during the duration of the project, being professionally assisted by deENet and the IdE (Institute decentralised Energy Technologies).
To implement the energy revolution in the Aller-Leine Valley, heat energy of flowing water in Frankenfelder-Hedern and geothermal energy in Hambüren should be utilized for the generation of room heating. Also, there should be a push in the Aller-Leine Valley for power generation through photovoltaics and especially the storage of this renewable power.
Above all, it should be the aim to generate room heating from geothermal and water energy to reduce the consumption of natural gas. The main means for achieving this are electric heat pumps. By this, approximately 170 tons of CO2 may be avoided annually. The higher the proportion of renewable energy in the power supply, the more emission is reduced. With 100 percent power generation from renewable energies in future, about 500 tons of CO2 may be avoided. With this, the Aller-Leine Valley makes a substantial contribution to the emission reduction objectives set out in the EC and on the federal level.
The IdE assists the Aller-Leine Valley in the submission of the SEAP to the CoM. In particular, the 2012 energy study was amended by a detailed emission balance on the basis of computations by the IdE. For this reason, in future the region may not only make its mark on energy issues but also on climate protection matters, and document and update the progress in emission reduction.