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Innovative Energy Systems and Economic Growth: Realizing Regional Value in Climate Protection

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Ready4NetZero project


Innovative Energy Systems and Economic Growth: Realizing Regional Value in Climate Protection

The Rhein-Hunsrück-Kreis Model


This webinar, presented as part of the Ready4NetZero project, offered a deep dive into the Rhein-Hunsrück-Kreis's journey to becoming a benchmark district when it comes to climate protection and energy innovation at the local level. It examined the district's effective strategies for phasing out fossil fuels and the transition to a local, renewable energy supply. Key questions guiding the webinar included the following: What are the most efficient ways to eliminate fossil energy? How can a region successfully adopt local renewable sources? The webinar confronted typical challenges faced by municipalities, including lack of knowledge/expertise, technological and financial barriers, system operation complexities, (local) regulations and land use issues.

The webinar also outlined a number of innovative approaches adopted by the district's leaders and renewable energy champions, from mapping solar roofs potential and construction of passive municipal buildings, to environmental education programmes (in the words of Mr Fleck, "If you want to change the world, you shall start with children!"), to citizen engagament campaigns with a touch of humour (offering a new refrigerator to the owner of the oldest one in the district).

Importantly, the substantial economic impact of this transition was discussed, which resulted in an annual regional value creation of 44 million euros for the Rhein-Hunsrück-Kreis, sustained over a 20-year period. Providing firsthand insights, our speaker was the former District Administrator of Rhein-Hunsrück-Kreis, Bertram Fleck, who had played a pivotal role in the region's transition to sustainable energy.

Bertram Fleck is a German politician from the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) who served as the District Administrator of Rhein-Hunsrück-Kreis from 1989 to 2015, championing decentralized power generation from the onset of his tenure. Prior to this role, he was a jurist in the financial administration of a German federal state. Bertram Fleck spearheaded the district's transition to renewable energy, which included significant projects such as the "1000 Roofs Photovoltaic Program," and led the region to produce over three times its own electricity consumption from renewable sources. His leadership was instrumental in the district's numerous sustainability initiatives, ranging from energy-efficient building renovations to the establishment of biomass and wind power plants. Fleck's efforts were recognized when Rhein-Hunsrück-Kreis was awarded the "Energy Municipality of the Decade" by the German Renewable Energy Agency (AEE) in 2018.

The webinar was moderated by Ewa Iwaszuk, who also gave a short introductory presentation.

The recording of the webinar as well as the presentation slides are available here.

With a lot of pragmatism and inner conviction the green energy revolution transformed the local economy.


More content from this project

Project ID
Renewable Energy, Decentralized Power Generation, Regional Value Creation
Central and Eastern Europe, Rhein-Hunsrück-Kreis, Germany