Eco-energy in and from the hands of citizens: many people, especially in Germany, who are organized in cooperatives and who are committed to the energy turnaround and regional value creation follow this appealing concept. One example is the Bürgerenergiegenossenschaft Schwarzwald. With 220 members, it operates an open-air facility near the small town of Alpirsbach in the northern Black Forest, among several other projects. The bare figures of the "Solarpark Peterzell" alone are impressive: 880 kilowatts of installed capacity on 6,000 square meters of land with a total area of 15,000 square meters, 3,600 modules with a rated output of around 250 watts each, investment costs of almost one million euros. The plant is managed by a Solar-Log 2000.
It was a real tour de force to build this plant on the earth dump, remembers Ulrich Seiz, member of the six-member cooperative board. Together with the operator of the landfill site, which is still in use, and a large coalition of the willing (citizens, neighbors, local politicians, bank, etc.), they tackled the major project. Since summer 2013, the plant has been reliably generating electricity. The targeted annual yield of 900,000 kilowatt hours "is generally easily achieved," says Ulrich Seiz. The large plant on the landfill site itself feeds completely into the grid. In principle, the Black Foresters market their electricity via the nationwide network "Bürgerwerke".
Difficulties with such a large PV system are less of a technical nature, the environmental engineer and building biologist knows, even though there have been problems with several of the 32 inverters. Many of the volunteer comrades are more likely to lose interest because of a huge administrative burden, often frustrating bureaucratic obstacles and sometimes absurd regulations that still slow down renewable energies. "We would like to try a lot more, but we are not legally allowed to," regrets the board member responsible for local energy and e-mobility. "Legally, we are treated like any Volksbank," says Ulrich Seiz. From a share of 100 euros to a maximum of 15,000 euros, anyone interested can become a member of the cooperative, which pays out an average of 2 to 3 percent dividends.
Ulrich Seiz and his comrades-in-arms are currently dealing with a tangible animal problem. Until now, a shepherd let his animals graze on the site, but the live lawn mowers are no longer there and the green under the module surfaces is sprouting. There are fewer and fewer shepherds in the Black Forest, too. Mowing the lawn by hand? Hard to imagine with 15,000 square meters of land.
Despite all adversities, the advocates of a more environmentally friendly energy future are constantly planning new projects, some of them in cooperation with local authorities. The money earned is reinvested in environmentally friendly power generation. Seiz: "We are always looking for roofs. In the meantime, the cooperative is operating projects with a total output of 1 megawatt.
Against the apparently again current plans of the Federal Network Agency in Germany to force old PV systems in principle into the feed-in, the energy cooperatives will "defend themselves very clearly", announced Seiz. Every kilowatt hour of electricity generated by renewable energies avoids the combustion of environmentally harmful coal, gases and oils. This is worth fighting for.