Alheim on its Way into a Sustainable Future – Daring to be More Democratic and Renewable
Alheim www.alheim.de is a rural community with a modern structure located in the centre of Germany’s Pro Region Mittleres Fuldatal [Pro Region for the Central Fulda Valley Pro Region]. It covers 63.85 km² and is made up of 10 districts with a population of some 5,300. It belongs to the Landkreis [Administrative District] Hersfeld-Rotenburg.
In 1997 Alheim began a new forward-looking and citizen-orientated era under the motto “Daring to be more democratic” so as to enable the community to meet its responsibilities towards future generations by using sustainable thinking, planning and action. Today, the pillars that support the structure of the community are: the revolution in social energy policy; economic strengthening; sustainable education for both young and old; networking between generation; and creation of the ZuBRA Region for Energy, Health and Education [a cooperative effort between the communes of Bebra, Rotenburg a.d. Fulda and Alheim].
The goal of “retrieving through the production of renewable energy in the Alheim Community area an arithmetical 80% of the energy consumed in households”, which was established in a set of energy guidelines in 2004, has long since been met and exceeded. In addition, the Community intends to take measures that will make it energy self-sufficient, insofar as is possible, by the year 2030.
In this way, processes have been set in motion that are both sustainable and quite exemplary! At the Kirchner Solar Group company alone, more than 150 new jobs have been created, plus additional ones through operation of the biogas plant of the Biopower Alheim GbR [Alheim Biopower Civil Law Association]. In addition to these jobs, a great number of others in the region have been able to be safeguarded! What is really special is that the biogas plant not only produces electricity but also supplies thermal energy at low cost via a local heating plan to the businesses located in the adjacent commercial operation, which thus enjoy an economic advantage of locational.
To prevent any further uncontrolled development through the construction of Renewable Energy Plants, some of these have been built on polluted landfills so that a future agricultural use is possible (example: the Sonnenei Solar Park, where laying hens enjoy free range beneath the solar sails and produce bio eggs).
We in Alheim have shown that it is very possible to find answers to the pressing questions of modern times and to counter demographic change in a structurally weak rural area via the revolution in social energy policy.
At the same time, an economic strengthening is also possible by leading the community in a new direction towards renewable generation of energy on-site with a high level of citizen participation, and by creating an Energy and Education Region. Furthermore, a commune, and consequently a whole region, can be strengthened substantially through specific processes for the sustainable education (as per the UN Decade) of young and old, taking a basically new direction,
Because of this new knowledge, the inter-communal association ZuBRA www.zubra.de came into being, through which processes are now being implemented that are regionally cross-linked. At the present moment, the ZuBRA communities are busy setting up the Master Plan for Energy and implementing the Education Plan, which is based on the UN Decade’s QuaSi BNE process. Another link connecting the region is the Verein Pro Region Mittleres Fuldatal e.V. [Registered Association for the Central Fulda Valley Pro Region], www.prmf.de, as is also the recently created “Alheimer” administration union, which regulates inter-communal cooperation in various spheres for the communes of Alheim and Rotenburg an der Fulda.