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11 Jun 2020, 14:15
Sören Amelang

German towns launch trial to shed coal and gas from energy supply

dpa / Clean Energy Wire

Three Western German towns are launching a trial to run the local energy supply without coal and gas, reports the newswire dpa in an article carried by the Süddeutsche Zeitung. Energy company E.ON plans to digitally connect neighbourhoods in Essen, Bedburg and Kaisersesch by 2024 to balance supply and demand. Sixty million euros will be invested in the project dubbed "SmartQuart." Different forms of energy supply are being tested in the project. Two neighbourhoods will experiment with local power generation using wind and solar power as well as a central storage unit, while another will run a trial using green hydrogen produced on-site. "The aim of the project is to make the use of fossil fuels in the project neighbourhoods largely superfluous" and to turn the neighbourhoods into energy transition players “as flexible parts of a future energy system," E.ON said in a press release. "An important factor here is the decentralised sector coupling at local level in the neighbourhoods in order to implement the energy transition in the areas of mobility, heat and electricity."

Andreas Feicht, state secretary at the federal energy and economy ministry, called the project "the energy transition on a neighborhood scale" that takes into account the various interests of citizens, local authorities, planners, plant and network operators. State economy minister Andreas Pinkwart said the project will provide "initial findings for broad-based implementation in his state of North Rhine-Westphalia.”

Germany’s energy transition is a vast national project that is reshaping the entire country. But, of course, it is also taking place on a local level. With the shift to a decentralised energy system, renewable power has been increasingly generated in, and often owned by, local communities. Urban centres are where much of the country’s energy is distributed and consumed. And as the energy transition expands its focus from the power sector to heating, buildings and mobility, population centres will be where crucial changes take place.

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