“Klimakommune Saerbeck” (Climate Community Saerbeck), a local energy initiative of the community of Saerbeck, is a success story on how to organise energy transitions at local level.
It actually started in 2008 when the municipality, after very positive experiences with results of a citizens driven initiative to install photovoltaic (PV) panels on the roofs of municipal buildings, adopted a resolution to switch the energy supply of the whole municipality to renewable energy sources. Its objective was to become independent from the incumbent energy supplier and assure that the whole energy power supply in Saerbeck (for families, businesses and public lighting) be based on own produced renewable energies by 2030.
One year later, in 2009, the municipality won a regional competition organised by the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia and was allowed to call itself “Nordrhein-Westfalen Climate Community of the future” opening the door for funding and marking the beginning of the path towards execution of their ambition to achieve climate neutrality and be energy autonomous by 2030.
In the context of the regional competition the Saerbeck roadmap to achieving the ambition had been set forth in the municipality’s Integrated Climate Protection and Climate Adaptation Concept (in German IKKK, Integriertes Klimaschutz- und Klimaanpassungskonzept), describing seven areas of action, out of which three are lead projects, and 150 single measures.
Cornerstone of the local energy initiative was the successful association of and cooperation between the municipality of Saerbeck and multiple societal stakeholders (citizens, associations, the planning office, local government, businesses and farmers,…). The driving force was its steering committee, composed of 12 to 14 individuals (residents, scientists, economists, engineers, …), including a Project Manager, a Communications Manager and the municipality’s Mayor.
Today the community has installed over 438 PV installations on the roofs of the private houses and schools, it is running its own local electricity grid, it has built a central heating plant conveying the concept of renewables in an educative manner and has transformed a former ammunition park in a bio-energy park including 7 wind turbines, a biogas plant, a bio waste treatment plant with a digestion stage and a PV park. The community produces about 3,5 times more renewable energy than the local consumption and the annual per capita CO2 emissions have decreased from 9 tons to 5,5 tons.