ADAM’S BLOG: “Your own pigs don’t stink.” This German phrase might just help make Australia a renewable energy leader.
A few years ago, the small rural town of Feldheim decided to become energy self-sufficient. With rising energy costs in a village where the temperature can drop to below -10 Centigrade, it made economic sense. And so the townsfolk each paid EUR 3,000 for a share in a community company that would eventually own and run their electricity grid. The long-standing agricultural co-op owns the heating network.
Their crops are surrounded by 43 wind turbines, built and run by a renewable energy company that partners with the community-owned firm. The small town only needs the equivalent of one turbine’s worth of electricity. The surplus energy is sold into the grid. On the odd occasion where there isn’t enough wind power, a small biogas plant within the village provides it.
Throughout all this, not one person has ever complained of any adverse effects from wind turbines. Despite the rhetoric in Australia, health has never come up as an issue. A small few in Germany complain about the sight of windfarms, but not the folks from Feldheim. Why not? Well, as our guide told us, your own pigs don’t stink. Whatever complaints others might have, the folks here are proud of what they’ve got in their backyard.
Maybe we need more of this in Australia. Maybe more locally owned energy production will help dispel some of the rubbish arguments used to justify, for example, Victoria’s ludicrous anti-windfarm laws. Maybe then the existing public support for renewables will translate into the nationwide action we need.