91%: Germany gives power to the people

91% of Europeans want more renewable energy
Source: Special Eurobarometer 435, November 2015

Public support for renewable energy has never been higher. A recent poll carried out by TNS in all EU countries concludes that 91% of Europeans say it is important that their government sets targets to increase the amount of renewable energy used by 2030.

Ortenau, Germany: Energy co-ops yield interest

50 km south of Strasbourg, Germany’s Energiewende is in full swing. In June 2016, the Südliche Ortenau civic wind farm emerged on the territories of the municipalities of Ettenheim, Schuttertal and Seelbach. The wind farm comprises seven modern 2.75 MW GE wind turbines with a hub height of 139 metres.

In a normal wind year, each of these turbines can power 2,000 households, and together they produce enough electricity to cover 30% of the demand in all three municipalities. Independent from volatile fossil fuel prices, locals can buy the generated power directly at a stable price.

Ownership and information are the cornerstones of a strong community. Events involved the municipalities early in the planning stage, and flyers and guided tours presented the construction phase. The local energy cooperative also gave communities the opportunity to become majority owners while just investing a very small amount. Depending on the option, investors can benefit from interest rates or dividends of 3% or more.

In September 2016, The Bürgerwindpark Southern Ortenau won the Best Community Project Award of WISE Power, an EU-funded project that compiles social acceptance pathways in a multi-lingual toolkit.