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Climate and energy transition

Local best practices - 29.07.2022

Welcome to the Saerbeck climate cooperative: when locals invest in a renewable and independent energy future
With its 7000 inhabitants, Saerbeck is a small German town with a big environmental ambition: to become an energy self-sufficient "climate community" by 2030. This will be achieved by maximising energy generation from renewable sources such as sun, wind, water and biomass as is consumed in private households and commercial enterprises.

Saerbeck has, since 2009, aimed to become the state of North-Rhine-Westphalia's model climate municipality of the future. The municipal "climate concept" has since become part of the vocabulary of Saerbeck's citizens and indeed all inhabitants are encouraged to participate in this effort to locally and sustainably produce all of households' and enterprises' energy needs.

In 2010, the municipality acquired an ammunition depot abandoned by the German armed forces. It is being transformed into an energy park with with a mix of powerful photovoltaic systems, wind turbines, biogas plants and other innovative projects.

Currently, the Bioenergy Park produces about 2.5 times more renewable electrivity than is consumed in Saerbeck. The CO2 footprint has thus be halved, although work still needs to be done to decarbonise transport and heating.

Threefold benefits: financial, environmental and educational

In the spirit of "thinking globally, acting locally", Saerbeck's citizens can directly participate and invest in these local energy projects through a citizens' cooperative. As of 2020, the cooperative has turned a profit and has even distributed a dividend to its citizen-investors.

So far, almost 400 local shareholders have invested in the cooperative. Ultimately this means twice the benefit for locals: besides the local economic gains, the town is making a great contribution to global climate protection and local energy independence.

All projects are accompanied by numerous educational projects: energy transition starts in the minds.  An experimental school at the Bioenergy Park shows students from all over the world how renewable energies work in reality and what they are good for.
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