A small town in Austria, Gising, which did not have significant industrial or commercial activities, became famous thanks to local renewable sources. Gissing became a model for the application of biomass and the first Austrian ecologically independent city.
It has about 4000 inhabitants, is located in eastern Austria. It was a poor city, and energy costs were extremely high. City officials have realized that if they want to be energy independent, the first step is to reduce energy consumption.
In 1990, they implemented an energy efficiency program, reconstructed all public buildings with new insulation and replaced street lamps with energy efficient ones, reducing energy consumption in buildings by 50%.
With significantly improved efficiency, the city has adopted a policy calling for the complete elimination of the use of fossil fuels in all public buildings, in an attempt to keep as much money as possible in the local economy.
There is not much wind in Gising, but the city is rich in biomass – it is surrounded by 133 hectares of forest. The locals, realizing that the wood is decomposing and not being used, start running a district heating plant for six homes. With the success of that project, small district heating systems were built. In 1996, the heating system was extended to the entire city and also produced electricity, all from renewable raw materials, collected within a radius of 5 km.
Then in 2001, the city, with the help of the federal government, installed a biomass-based gasification plant. This was the first power plant of its kind in the world. The plant uses steam to separate carbon and hydrogen, and then recombines the molecules to form the natural gas that supplies the city’s power plant. It produces an average of 2 megawatts of electricity and 4.5 megawatts of heat, which is more than enough for the needs of the city, while consuming only one third of the biomass that grows every year. The city also processes rapeseed into biodiesel.
The New York Times announced in 2007 that the city of Gissing was the first city in the European Union to reduce carbon emissions by more than 90%. A year later, they built a research institute with a focus on thermal and biological gasification and the production of second-generation fuels. In the same year, they started producing solar collectors.
The small town has become a producer of net energy – it generates more energy from renewable sources than it uses. There are more than 30 power plants using renewable sources within a radius of 10 km. The city has 60 new companies, 1,500 new jobs, an annual revenue of $ 17 million from energy sales, all due to the growth of the renewable energy sector. Other cities in Austria began to follow Gising. More than 15 regions in Austria are now energy independent in terms of electricity, heating and transport.
Source: E2 Portal by www.e2.rs.
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