Solar technologies are certainly taking over the world for the better, but none like this Bavarian village which is spearheading Germany’s charge towards renewable energy transformation. Wildpoldsried, a merely 2,600 people strong village has become the Mecca of renewable technologies over the past 18 years, flaunting mega projects like 4,983 kWp of photovoltaics, five biogas facilities, 11 wind turbines and even a hydropower system.
The results are quite astonishing when articulated, with the village going from being completely energy independent to producing over 500% surplus energy than it needs. And now it is running its economy purely on the profits of the sales from selling the surplus power back to the grid.
In a transformation known as Energiewende, Germany has led the global move towards creating renewable technologies that have been propelled by government subsidies, consequently making the country less dependent on fossil fuels and nuclear power. The Germans are expected to get 30 percent of their power from renewable sources from now on, which is twice as much as an average U.S. household.
Wildpoldsried is the ultimate model of the impressive German commitment towards clean energy, with the initiative starting back in 1999 as their city council drafted a document titled “Wildpoldsried Innovativ Richtungsweisend” (WIR-2020, or Wildpoldsried Innovative Leadership). The document featured the ways the village can invest in new community facilities without facing heavy financial burdens. The WIR-2020 contained three main areas of focus:
“1) Renewable Energy and Saving Energy; 2) Ecological Construction of Buildings Using Ecological Building Materials (mainly wood-based); and 3) Protection of Water and Water Resources (both above and below ground) and Ecological Disposal of Wastewater.”
Focusing on these three areas, Wildpoldsried aimed at producing 100 percent of their electricity from renewable technologies by 2020. But due to the close knitted society and cohesion of the area, the project managed to achieve the goal far sooner. By 2011, the village was making 321 % surplus electricity, for which it received $5.7 million in payments.
Besides the list of renewable technologies named earlier, Wildpoldsreid also hosts many municipal and residential biomass heating systems along with a total of 2,100 m² of solar thermal systems.
“maintains the balance between energy production and consumption and keeps the power grid stable.”
Windpoldsreid’s Deputy Mayor, Günter Mögele, boasted about the achievement to the Financial Times:
“I think people were surprised that the Energiewende is happening so fast,”
A cue for rest of the world to see how quickly things can turn around if people put their heart and soul into the effort.