Innovative Time Machine (Made in Germany)
On June 18th 2011, a round-table discussion on ‘Energy-efficiency innovations in the service of society: implemented experience of municipal management and innovative exploitation of city services using the example of Germany (Muenchen Nord metropolis, city of Unterschleissheim)’ took place at the HSE Institute of Real-Estate Economics.
Over 50 participants of the meeting, much like characters in an H.G. Wells novel, were ‘transferred’ to a future city which has been implementing an innovative approach to the city economy since the early 2000s and today, in 2050, the city has achieved the margin of 80% of innovative energy balance planned for the middle of the century in Germany. ‘Three hours of airplane flight and you are in the future’, said Valentina Filonova, CEO of ASKVEL company and lecturer at the HSE Institute of Real-Estate Economics
How did the small town of Unterschleissheim manage to achieve this? At the beginning of the century the city administration founded the Bavarian innovation association ICU K.B. headed by the current mayor Rolf Zeitler (who was one of the speakers at the round-table discussion), analyzed the growth of global oil and gas prices as well as the opportunities for implementing innovative developments, made its conclusions and went on to act. They drilled 2 km-deep wells, and by means of hot water from this depth, the city provided 80% of its needs in thermal energy.
Mr. Rolf Zeitler at the HSE meeting spoke about the business plan, the schedule of investment and drilling and emphasized that while the planned payback period was 10-12 years, the town network of geothermal energy has paid for itself in only 6 years. And this is taking into account the fact that Bavaria has no geothermal activity such as geysers or hot springs. Today Unterschleissheim exploits ten geothermal facilities, and eight more are under construction.
Rolf Zeitler added that geothermal power facilities are planned for other German cities.
Electrical power in the city is provided by means of solar cells placed everywhere (in private houses, office buildings, kindergartens, schools and fire departments). In fact,Unterschleissheim, part of Munich Nord Metropolis, has more than met the targets set by the European Union. They have replaced the 20-20 strategy (20 per cent of energy consumption from renewable sources by 2020) with the 80-20 strategy. And this is through only two directions of development for energy efficiency and innovative power industry in Unterschleissheim: geothermal energy and solar batteries.
‘It is thanks to these innovations that Germany is a locomotive for Europe in the stormy sea of crises which are raging in Europe and are touching our shores. While previously the energy efficiency principles were a small carriage in the end of the economic train, today they are, figuratively speaking, at the head of the train’, Valentina Filonova believes.
Why is the population of this city interested in implementing innovations? The answer is very simple: it is profitable. For example, one can equip the household with solar batteries and sell extra energy to the state (at the prices of the Leipzig power exchange). These relations are regulated by law. In addition to that, if the households have to buy power, the state gives them a discount. This way Germany motivates its citizens to turn to innovations. Today there are 11 thousand solar panels in Unterschleissheim, and their total area is equal to about 11 football pitches.
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