Greenpeace brought mayors from all over Europe to Bavaria to show them the best practices of German energy transition. First impressions: the 'Energiewende' is contagious!

We travelled with eight  mayors from Hungary, Turkey, Croatia and a few from Germany across Bavaria to see successful examples of energy transition, and to explore the possibilities to replicate these best practices in renewable energy in other countries.

Hydro, biomass, solar, wind and geothermal: Bavaria has them all. Here like in the rest of Europe, there are strong potentials for renewables.

Each of our guests brought in their own vision about their municipalities' energy needs, and of course their unique problems. They were very much interested in the people's involvement, the role of cooperatives, access to funds, financing details (especially about feed-in tariff) and energy security.

The exchange with their German colleagues was valued as a very critical contribution helping them to approach their own energy transition at home.

We started our tour in Munich and headed south. Bidingen was our first stop. For a small village each new investment means financial debt. But for this small centre investing in the wind power plant (Enercon model E-101, 3 MW) has proved to be a success: the plant has not only covered for its cost but generated new income – from the energy sales – which has been used to improve the public infrastructure and provide the citizens with more services (new public buildings, building energy efficiency, faster internet connection, etc.)

Next we visited Wildpoldsried. Besides several solar and wind installations, this rural municipality has its own bioenergy plant. The municipality produces five-time more energy than it needs and it’s now testing its own smart grid to get a more stable power network, thus a higher energy security standard.

Central heating centre, bioenergy plant, Wildpoldsried - © Oliver Soulas / Greenpeace

In Leutkirch im Algäu mayor Hans-Jörg Henle showcased the municipal energy concept, which is based on solar energy. Different solar projects have been started by local energy cooperatives. The village inhabitants are also developing their future vision for a "Sustainable City", a project that includes preservation of landscape, urban planning, mobility, etc.

Leutkirch Solar park presentation - © Matjaž Dovečar / Greenpeace

The last part of the tour has been focused on a geothermal plant located near Munich and funded by the joint efforts of three very small municipalities: Aschheim, Feldkirchen and Kirchheim.

Merging their vision and their resources – and after a research on the potential of geothermal and its feasibility in the area – they could fund the plant and the heating pipe system connecting the municipalities. From a depth of around 2.600 meters hot water at 85 degrees is pumped to the surface heating up all the 2.159 households connected.

Greenpeace representative Matjaž Dovečar and Bidingen’s Mayor Franz Martin - ©  Oliver Soulas / Greenpeace

Renewable energy exists in many forms and is everywhere to find.

Renewable energy means also decentralization and more possibilities for citizens' participation at different levels.

The production of energy doesn't need to be in the hands of big utilities. Municipalities can benefit of the local energy production and have the means to provide their citizens with more services.  That's probably why the Energiewende is supported by a huge majority of the German population (93%).

The Energy [R]evolution is already happening.

Matjaž Dovečar, Researcher at Greenpeace Slovenia