City of Freiburg, Germany
Since 1992, Freiburg has been the German capital for environmental conservation and protection. Solar Region Freiburg is a long-term development vision that has been embraced by the City of Freiburg. With this guiding vision the City has developed numerous significant projects that use every kind of solar application.
1) A support program for home insulation and energy efficiency retrofits, and all new insulation and energy efficiency retrofits, and all new houses built on city land must meet a new low-energy efficiency design standard that uses two thirds of the legally permitted limit.2) Numerous significant projects that use solar applications: solar photovoltaics (over 400 installations), solar thermals (for hot water), and transparent solar insulation which converts solar heat that hits a wall into useable thermal energy.3) Freiburg's Central Railway Station has installed a solar PV that is 19 floors high, with 240 solar modules.4) In the South of Freiburg, on the former area of a French barrack site, Vauban, a new Solar Village district is being developed for more than 2000 houses, 5,000 inhabitants and 600 jobs. In 1993 the planning for the district started and in 2006, after three development phases, the district (38 hectares) will be completed. Some features of Vauban include all houses being built at least with improved low energy standard (65 kWh/m2a, calculated similar to the Swiss SIA 380/1 standard) plus at least 100 units with "passive house" (15 kWh/m2a) or "plus energy" standard (houses which produce more energy than they need, another 100 plus energy houses are planned). 5) In addition to Freiburg's solar activities, mention should be made of some of the city's other environmental initiatives - the city has over 500km of bicycle paths and a third of all journeys are by bicycle. There are more than 5000 bicycle parking spaces in the city, with additional spots at tram stops for "bike and ride" commuters.
There will be countless benefits for both the city's economy and citizens this project. These include:Individuals: The Vauban initiative will benefit the 5,000 inhabitants of the district with 2000 houses and over 600 jobs. Additionally, if residents sign a contract stating that they will leive without a car, the requirement to buy a parking space in the district garage will be waived, reducing the cost of their housing (approximately 20-25% of the residents have chosen to live without a car). In the Schlierberg region, many of the homes produce more energy than they use and thus residents are able to sell the surplus energy to the national grid at a profit.Society:The Forum Vauban offers an outlet for far-reaching participation and gives voice to the people's needs and supports their and sets up a communication and participation structure including meetings, workshops, a three-monthly district news magazine, publications on special issues and internet-presentations.On a larger level, because of its commitment and results in the field of solar energy Freiburg is regarded as the Mecca of solar power. The Freiburg region has the highest density of exemplary solar power schemes, the largest population of solar energy researchers and the most dynamic centre of technological advancement and product innovation anywhere in the world. It is the hub of solar information in the world and as such Freibuirg's citizens enjoy a pride in ther city for showing this kind of leadership.Economy:By spending its energy dollars on solar and other renewable energy techonologies, this money is staying within local circulation, instead of leaving the region to purchase gas, oil or uranium elsewhere. Additionally, its position at the forefront of solar technology and innovation has resulted in its becoming a major tourist area.Environment:By December 2003, the total photovoltaic capacity if Freiburg had reached 3,200 kilowatts (3.a Megawatts), producing 3 million kilowatt hours per year for use in the grid. An additional 8560 square metres of solar thermal heating had been installed and 700 square metres of solar swimming pool heating. Through a study by the Öko-Institut (Institute for Applied Ecology), the following impacts were found out (all figures are provisional):1) Energy savings per year of 28 GigaJules (calculated as "CER", cumulative energy requirements),2) Reduction of CO2-equivalents per year of 2100 tonnes, 3) Reduction of sulphor-dioxide (SO2-) equivalents per year of 4 tonnes, 4) Saving of mineral resources per year of 1600 tonnes.
The support of the local government to solar energy has meant that its use has become the norm in Freiburg. For example, the regional power supply company Badenova (which is jointly owned by a number of regional municipalities) offers a solar investment subsidy for customers who want to install photovoltaic panels, which helps to increase solar's economic competitiveness. The regional utility invests all of the income the difference between the standard rate and the slightly higher "clean" rate into further "clean" plants (photovoltaics, biomass, and small hydropower); this has resulted in a steady increase in the generation of environmentally friendly electricity.The City of Freiburg supports solar energy with a wide range of policy measures:- own solar projects by the City or related corporations;- subsidies for solar projects, pilot and demonstration projects;- renting roof surfaces to solar power plant operators;- favourable property conditions to attract innovative businesses;- public relation campaigns for solar energy and for Freiburg as a centre of expertise; and- pro-active research and economic development support.
Individuals:The City of Freiburg's commitment to energy conservation and the use of new techonolgies has meant that individuals have embraced these concepts at the macro level. Approximately, 35% of residents choose to live without a car and another third of all trips made in the city are done on bicycle. Society:In the area of transportation, Freiburg has mainstreamed non-vehicular trips by implementing a car sharing initiative within which the car sharing company "Freiburger Auto Gemeinschaft" offers five cars and one van especially for people living in Vauban. Those residents who joined the car sharing organisation not only have access to the shared cars but also received a one-year free pass for all public transportation within Freiburg as well as a one-year 50 % reduction on every train ticket in form of the "Bahncard". As a result of the city's various transportation initiatives, motor cehicle use frll 38% to 32% between 1982 - 1999, in complete contrast to the trend in almost all other central European cities.Also, Freiburg is attracting solar research and development organizations. The International Solar Energy Society (ISES) and numerous other solar institutions have located their headquarters in Freiburg, and the city has often hosted major European solar energy conferences, attracting many delegates.Economy:To help mainstream solar photovoltaic in the open market (it is still too costly for most builders and developers) the City of Freiburg is taking advantage of the German federal government's 2001 Renewable Energy Law which ensures that energy supply companies are obliged to reimburse stored solar energy producers at a highly subsidised price. The current rate of .457 Euros a kilowatt hour (compared to a standard electricity rate of .15 - .20 Euros) is guaranteed for a period of 20 years. In Freiburg, the electricity output that can be expected will cover the investment costs within 15 years.In the municipal district of Freiburg more than 10,000 people are working in 420 enviornmental enterprises. Their annual turnover amounts to 1 billion Euro (approx. 6% of the total turnover) which means that the average rate of the region is superior to the national average by 1.7%. Environment:Energy conservation and clean production have been so mainstreamed in Freiburg that the total PV capacity in Freiburg has reached 3,200 kW producing 3 million kWh per year for use in the grid. With this capacity, 10% of the regional utilities customers have voluntarily opted for the slightly more expensive electricity regional and renewable energy sources. Furthermore, the city has an ambitious recycling programme with four separate household containers. As a result, Freiburg has reduced its waste disposal 140,000 tonnes a year in 1988 to 50,000 tonnes in 2000. Frieburg has also put 42% of it surrounding area under nature or countryside protection, where building is no longer permitted.
The projects benefits and advantages are outlined above, however, to summarize some of the key advantages include:- the city's various transportation initiatives have resulted in a decrease of motor vehicle use fell 38% to 32% between 1982 - 1999, in complete contrast to the trend in almost all other central European cities;- by spending its energy dollars on solar and other renewable energy techonologies, the city's money is staying within local circulation, instead of leaving the region to purchase gas, oil or uranium elsewhere; and - the city's commitment to renewable energy has meant the the Freiburg region has the highest density of exemplary solar power schemes, the largest population of solar energy researchers and the most dynamic centre of technological advancement and product innovation anywhere in the world.
Through the interest and support of both the public and private sector, there is continued growth in the implementation of clean energy sources, which are secure and decentralised; contributing to the sustainability of the region in terms of environment, energy provision and job creation.