The first bioenergy village was Jühnde in 2004. Since then, many have come. Here you can find out what makes a bioenergy village and how it can contribute to climate protection.
The limited availability of non-renewable resources, a lack of community spirit and dependence on imports are currently critical issues. Bioenergy villages deal with all of them and strive for ecologically and socially sustainable solutions.
A bioenergy village uses biomass as renewable energy and generates it where it is consumed. In addition, the systems for generating energy create jobs and the joint project strengthens the cohesion in the village.
The municipality of Jühnde near Göttingen was a pioneer when it came to bioenergy villages. In 2004, 70 percent of the households there were connected to a biogas plant and a biomass heating plant. A key driver of the project was the “Interdisciplinary Center for Sustainable Development” at the University of Göttingen. In 2019, the plants in Jühnde had to be sold to a company for financial reasons. However, many other communities have been found that are implementing the bioenergy village concept.
What constitutes a bioenergy village
In order for a village or community to be called a bioenergy village, the location must cover at least 50 percent of its electricity and heat energy consumption with regionally generated bioenergy. For this, a bioenergy village mostly uses biomass, photovoltaics and partly wind energy . However, other alternatives are also possible. Biomass can be, for example, crops, liquid manure or organic waste.
In addition to the generation and use of bioenergy, the focus in a bioenergy village is also on using the energy generated as efficiently as possible. In addition, the villages try to use energy sparingly.
The participation of the citizens is particularly important in a bioenergy village. They support the idea of the bioenergy village and are involved in decisions. It is important that as many people as possible work together and also rely on renewable energies in their private households. In addition, the technical systems for generating bioenergy belong, at least in part, to citizens and customers, such as farmers.
Where are there bioenergy villages?
On the website of the Fachagentur Nachwachsende Rohstoffe e. V. currently lists 170 bioenergy villages in Germany. Most of them are in Baden-Württemberg or Bavaria. Another 42 towns are on the way to becoming bioenergy villages – including even Göttingen, which is not at all rural. You can find a more detailed data sheet for each bioenergy village on the website. Among other things, it informs you about how the respective village is currently generating its energy.
However, bioenergy villages are not only found in Germany. For other countries there does not seem to be such a clear listing as for Germany, but an example of a bioenergy village in Austria is Landgut Danzermühle . In Romania, the municipality of Ghelinţa is trying the concept.
This is how bioenergy villages help to protect the climate
Using solar energy via photovoltaics is a well-known method of generating energy, at least without direct CO2 emissions . The Agency for Renewable Resources describes biomass as “solar energy stored in plant form”. This makes it clear that this is also a renewable form of energy: After all, plants grow back relatively quickly. In most methods, the biomass is ultimately burned to release the energy stored in it.
Now you might be thinking: wait a minute, burning produces CO2 – doesn’t that harm the climate? CO2 is actually released during the combustion process, but only as much as the respective plant absorbed during its growth. So there is no additional CO2 and the next generation of plants absorbs the released carbon dioxide again. In that respect, the balance sheet is balanced.
Unfortunately, the calculation doesn’t quite add up in the end, because the plants also have to be planted, cared for, harvested, transported and processed. This also requires energy and releases CO2. That is why you should pay attention to the economical use of energy during these preparatory steps. Overall, energy from biomass has the clear advantage over energy from fossil fuels that it does not release carbon stored millions of years ago in the form of CO2.
“Fridays For Future” is allowed to organize a bicycle demo on the A7. But the group in Hildesheim had to make compromises.
At first they weren’t allowed, but with a few changes they were: “Fridays For Future” received permission to protest with a bicycle demo on the A7 near Hildesheim. Last year, the Lüneburg Higher Administrative Court prohibited the demo. Now the activists have found a compromise in cooperation with the city of Hildesheim and the police. What does this mean for the protest?
The activist group “Last Generation” has recently been increasingly criticized for demonstrations and blockades on freeway ramps. She is accused of blocking emergency vehicles, coercion or extortion. Justice Minister Marco Buschmann even called the sit-in protests illegal. The legal classification of this form of protest is not that easy from a legal point of view.
Freedom of assembly is paramount. Although it is enshrined in the Basic Law, it can be restricted under certain conditions. A central role is played in road blockades by second-tier jurisdiction. She describes deliberately stopping the first row of waiting cars in order to set up a physical barrier for the following motor vehicles as an act of coercion.
If the blockades move in the sense of freedom of assembly, the fact of coercion is still given, but the physical blockade of the cars from the second row is no longer illegal.
The highway is officially closed
The Federal Constitutional Court writes as a specification for the resolution of such actions after a precedent in 2004: “Important weighing elements here are the duration and intensity of the action, its prior notification, alternative options via other access roads, the urgency of the blocked transport, but also the factual connection between the in persons impaired in their freedom of movement and the object of the protest.”
The interpretation in individual cases is possible within a relatively large framework. Even if the demos against food waste by the “last generation” always raise the question of the material reference, the legal scholar Tim Wihl argues in a guest article for the legal magazine LTO that there is a kind of “permanent emergency” especially in the climate crisis. In the climate emergency , the factual reference could be justified by the fact that the object of protest is omnipresent in society.
Legally, it’s even easier with Fridays For Future. “The content of the demonstration focuses on climate protection in the transport sector, where Germany is still stagnating at the emissions level of 1990,” writes “Fridays For Future”. The reference to the people restricted in private transport is therefore clearly given in a demonstration on the motorway.
With the agreement with the city and the police, however, the activists have circumvented the legal dispute: the motorway is officially closed, traffic can easily bypass the area with a detour of about ten minutes.
Demo on Sunday instead of Friday
The fact that the protest was now approved was justified by the city with the new time of the action, reports “Fridays For Future”. In 2021, the demo was still planned for Friday afternoon, but now they want to start cycling on Sunday, July 10th at 9.30 a.m. with 600 participants at Hildesheim Central Station. It’s about three kilometers on the A7, until 11 a.m. at the latest, motorized traffic is allowed to drive unhindered again.
The group chose the route via the A7 “to give our demand for a traffic turnaround more emphasis,” Vera Wagner from “Fridays For Future” Hildesheim told the taz. They also hoped to attract new participants with this form of protest. After all, cycling on the autobahn doesn’t work every Sunday.
The fact that the protest will not hit too many cars on a Sunday morning and that a detour is possible due to the route is the price for the city permit. Stop the climate crisis yes – but please only on Sunday. After all, nobody has to deal with the interpretation of the right to demonstrate anymore.
Walking is part of the culture of Shimla which is one of the oldest ‘car-free’ towns in the world. Britishers had declared the long stretch of over ten kilometers as vehicle free zone where only horse riders and hand-pulled or cycle rickshaws were permitted. Over the years, the expansion and ‘development’ of Shimla has flooded the streets with cars, including the vehicles of the government departments. Instead of pushing for restriction on vehicular movement, the government has ironically approved a marginal, two-and-a-half feet pedestrian hanging path along the stretch which was earlier car-free.
Happy Hikers is a collective of hiking-enthusiasts, ecologists and public intellectuals based in Shimla who have come forward and resolved to sensitize the people in Shimla about the car-free heritage of the historic town so that they could learn from the previous generations about importance of car-free streets in leading an active, healthy life.
With the assistance from Sustainable Urban Mobility Network (SUM Net), the collective succeeded in reclaiming The Mall, the pedestrian artery of the city and the focal point of social life, where a ‘paidal tehjeeb’ (culture of walking) peculiar to Shimla has developed since colonial times. This heritage walk is nearly 8 kilometer-long, starting from the Gate of the Vice Regal Lodge (now Indian Institute of Advanced Studies) and ends at Chhota Shimla. On both ends of the stretch, one can see glorious views of the valleys and distant perennial snow-laden mountains. The Mall is now perhaps the longest pedestrian-only street in the world with shops, restaurants, hotels and heritage buildings.
To achieve this, the team created Shimla Pedestrian Forum and carried out a systematic, grassroots survey of the entire stretch. They drew a plan and held discussions with residents of the city. Afterwards, they modified the plan according to the feedback and started thinking of how to execute the project. The team started making person-to-person contacts with residents of all backgrounds and occupations, including local politicians, intellectuals, government officials, and students. Unsurprisingly, the majority of the residents supported the plan to restore the legacy of a car-free town in order to save Shimla from pollution, congestion and deterioration of quality of life. The team met the Deputy Commissioner and Superintendent of Police of Shimla district, and Commissioner,Shimla Municipal Corporation to apprise of the people’s plan for car-free Shimla and to request them to include the same in any future plans for the city. Fortunately, the activities of the pedestrian forum received good coverage in local media which further amplified the demand to keep Shimla car-free. Final blow to the attempts seeking removal of restrictions came from the High Court which directed the administration to adhere to the old traffic restriction laws. Happy Hikers played crucial role in activating and transforming the civic sensibilities around the issue, and thereby, empowered the arguments favouring the car-free policy in the court.the activities of the pedestrian forum received good coverage in local media which further amplified the demand to keep Shimla car-free. Final blow to the attempts seeking removal of restrictions came from the High Court which directed the administration to adhere to the old traffic restriction laws. Happy Hikers played crucial role in activating and transforming the civic sensibilities around the issue, and thereby, empowered the arguments favouring the car-free policy in the court.the activities of the pedestrian forum received good coverage in local media which further amplified the demand to keep Shimla car-free. Final blow to the attempts seeking removal of restrictions came from the High Court which directed the administration to adhere to the old traffic restriction laws. Happy Hikers played crucial role in activating and transforming the civic sensibilities around the issue, and thereby, empowered the arguments favouring the car-free policy in the court.empowered the arguments favouring the car-free policy in the court.empowered the arguments favouring the car-free policy in the court.
The success of deliberation-oriented participatory approach in restoring the car-free legacy of Shimla deserves attention of citizen groups in other cities. During COVID, the pedestrianization and the culture of walking has been extremely beneficial for the residents to lead a safe public life with proper physical distancing. A developed culture of walking has raised the general immunity levels, which has been crucial in keeping the COVID infections low so far. In such critical times, Happy Hikers and Shimla Pedestrian Forum have also become the spaces to think about the alternative developmental trajectories for the city keeping in view the rich traditions, cultural heritage and physical environment of the hill state capital.
Om Sharma (Email: email@example.com )
Rajendra Ravi (Email: firstname.lastname@example.org )
Read an older article on this subject,
which echoes the sentiment ‘Why should sealed roads be allowed to be used by only high-up officials, politicians, and judges?’ and contains the lines: ‘The demand should be to forbid even the above privileged sections from using these spaces, and that these roads should be used (by vehicles) only for emergency purposes. There are a whole lot of people who walk on these roads as these are the only spaces that are the ‘urban commons’ for Shimla’s pedestrians.’
Adaptation to climate change and resilience to risks has the face of a woman. In the neighborhoods of El Alto and the hillsides of La Paz, women not only train in risk management but also become builders of rainwater harvesting systems. THEY are the ones that guarantee life, building the future.
For more than ten years, the Llanos region of the Orinoquia, in Colombia, has been the theater of operation of the armed conflict and dominion, first of the guerrilla and then of paramilitary groups. The violence forced the population to cultivate the coca leaf and process cocaine. Many people were killed, entire families left their farms and migrated to the city. A group of families in the areas of Murujuy, Guanape and Sunape, located in Meta and Vichada Departments, have come out of this crossroads:They process essential oils for commercialization in urban markets, 250 kilometers away, and take advantage of renewable energies to supply themselves with water and electricity, improving their well-being as farmers.