A Small Town in Germany
The municipality of Bruchsmühlbach-Miesau consists of typical German small towns and villages. Located in the West German state of Rhineland-Palatinate, this collection of settlements is home to about 10,500 people. What’s not so typical about the town of Miesau is the fact that it’s also home to the “Miesau Army Depot” (also known as the US Army’s “Ammunition Center Europe”). It’s the largest American ammunition depot outside the US and just a few miles from the famous Rammstein Airbase and Landstuhl Medical Center.
But Bruchsmühlbach-Miesau is special for another reason as well. It’s part of the growing number of German municipalities and regions that actively work towards a 100% renewable energy supply.
In order to make a further step towards this 100% goal, the mayor approached the US Army authorities with a plan of putting a 1-MW solar PV plant on the roof of huge storage buildings inside the massive military base.
The local American military authorities and the national German authorities responsible for affairs concerning foreign military bases soon approved the plan and the project was about to be build. At that point, the project was halted because it still required additional approval from the Pentagon itself. In March 2012, the project finally received the long-desired approval from Washington and will be operational in May or June of this year.
“This is the first time the US Military approved the construction of a community owned solar power plant within one of their bases.” -Mayor Werner
Energized by this success, the community of Bruchsmühlbach-Miesau is already planning its next project in cooperation with the US base. If everything works out as planed, the community will proceed to build a biogas cogeneration plant in 2012. This project will reduce the annual heating oil consumption of the “Miseau Army Depot” by up to 443,000 liters / 117,000 gallons.
A Piece of the Puzzle
But the cooperation with the US Army is not the only renewable project of the municipal utility and the towns people. The community already operates:
- a wind farm consisting of 10 turbines that generates about 37 GWh/a (image above)
- a biogas plant that generates 2.7 GWh/a
- and at least 200 rooftop solar systems generating additional 2 GWh/a
Besides its current projects in cooperation with the US Army, it also plans to build another wind farm consisting of 5 turbines that will be finished in 2013. Those modern turbines will produce an additional 47 GWh/a. A huge addition to its renewable, clean and emission-free electricity production capacity. Due to the strong emphasis on local participation, regional value creation, and the overall positive experience of wind power, this new wind power project received the approval of 95% of the citizens and no NIMBY group was founded to oppose it.
With this mix of local renewable energy sources, the community of Bruchsmühlbach-Miesau will produces 290% of its electricity demand by 2013. Making this German community of 10,500 people an energy-exporting region, despite mediocre renewable resources, and without harming the enviroment.
What Does This Mean?
100% renewable energy is not fiction, nor unrealistic fantasy. What’s possible there, is possible everywhere. The technologies are ready and can be built within a few months or years. Those communities that embark on this mission benefit economically, culturally, and socially. Bringing people together, keeping the money in their community, creating jobs for their neighbors and income for the farmers that shaped their region for centuries, and building a better & sustainable future for their kids. They do this not because it is easy, but because it is right! That’s the spirit of the small-town energy revolution.
Based on an article by the “Renewable Energy Agency” to commemorate the “Energy Community of April 2012.”
I am a close observer of the renewable energy revolution in my home country Germany and around the world. As a full-blooded enthusiast, I spend a lot of my spare time reading about the technological, political, social and cultural developments that drive the renewable energy revolution and their benefits to society. I studied media & computer science at university and work as a freelance graphic / interface designer. I love visualizing complex information, data, & the relationships that connect them to our world.