Nearly 20 years ago visionary civic leaders of Dardesheim, a tiny German village located north of Switzerland, made a courageous decision. They decided to devote their community and personal resources in an all out effort to become, “Germany’s renewable energy city” and become 100% energy independent.
Back then, these civic leaders decided that their concentrated community effort would pay off not only in cheap electricity to power their homes and businesses and new jobs for their people, but also, possibly, in a monetary return to be realized by selling excess energy to other communities.
They were right.
Today, through a combination of wind, solar and biomass energy alternatives, Dardesheim is energy independent and produces enough power from wind turbines alone to “meet the needs of nearly all 80,000 resident of the surrounding county.”
“Proponents intend that the projects spread their economic benefits throughout the community. According to Heinrich Bartelt (one of the leaders behind the Dardesheim 100% renewable energy village concept) the community's investment in the project has become a development engine for the entire region. All the investment from the project stayed in the region, becoming the raw material for new local job creation. (Enercon a wind turbine manufacturer, in nearby Madgeburg, employs 3,000 and has become the largest industrial employer in the state of Sachsen-Anhalt.)"
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Elsewhere, the World Future Council and HafenCity University have established an International Commission on Cities and Climate change. The twenty members strive to identify best policies for sustainable urban development. Additionally, Munich, Boulder, Wildpoldsried, San Francisco, Barcelona, Woking, Sydney, and Copenhagen are engaged in becoming less dependent on fossil fuel.
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Finally, the European Union has about four years on the USA when comes to renewable energy. The Germans are leading their charge, too. They’ve transformed about 20% of their energy use into renewable energy, away from carbon-based fuels. The other European nations are expecting to reach the 20% renewable energy goal by 2020.
Jeremy Rifkin, principle architect of the European Union's Third Industrial Revolution long-term economic sustainability plan, and others, are working with cities, regions, and national governments to develop master plans to transition their economies into “post-carbon Third Industrial Revolution infrastructures”. In 2009, Rifkin and his team developed Third Industrial Revolution master plans for the cities of San Antonio, Texas and Rome, Italy, to transition their economies into the first post carbon urban areas in the world.
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Listen to Rifkin’s description of the “Third Industrial Revolution.” Go here>>
So, what are we waiting for? It’s time we put that often self-proclaimed American Ingenuity to work and establish our own centers of excellence at our universities and seriously encourage collaborative community-based renewable energy programs like the Germans have done!