May 6: Norderney aims for energy indepence in 2030
The German Wadden isle of Norderney, a wellness centre since 1797, is working on self-sufficiency in electricity generation by 2030 mainly by solar power and heat-coupled electricity generators.
“Norderney has a lot of sun hours”, says Tobias Pape, the town's deputy for electricity retail, generation and services. “We are in the same range as Freiburg as far as sun hours are concerned.”
We meet Pape at the town's exhibition of various energy efficient light emiting devices, varying from tungsten bulbs, fluorescent lights and multicoloured LED constellations. The exhibition, set up in collaboration with Philips, aims to show the inhabitants that energy efficient lighting can be pleasing to the eyes as well. The purpose is to seduce them, by discounts up to 40 percent, to replace their incandescent bulbs with much more energy efficient lighting before the year is out. 'Norderney Glühbirnen frei', the action is called. The municipality hopes to have replaced 90 percent of the lamps on the island by 2010. “We are not going to verify if every last lamp in storage rooms are replaced by then”, Pape admits.

His main focus is to increase the solar power on the island. In 2007, 350 kWp was installed, which had increased to 528 kWp a year later. This may sound impressive, but it still delivers only 1 percent of the local electricity needs.
A race for large roofs has begun. Originally, the municipality installed solar panels on the roofs of community housing blocks. But they are running out of own roofs. Pape now has set his aim on a number of large buildings around the harbour. If all the suitable roofs at the island were covered with solar panels, it would cover an area of 350 by 350 meters, which would be sufficient to generate 40 percent of the island's electricity.

Another source of power is to come from large heat-coupled electricity generators. There is currently one such installation providing 10 percent of the island's power besides heating for several housing blocks. Replacement of this installation by a more efficient one could increase its share in power to 15 percent. Another 25 percent should come from additional devices on the island.
“Forty percent should come from solar power, 40 percent from heat-coupled electricity generation and 20 percent from other sources”, says Pape. Which other sources, he can't yet say. The island is opposed to wind turbines, which it thinks are offensive in an nature reserve like the Wadden islands. Without any agricultural activity, there can't be much input from biomass either. So it's not clear which technology should bridge the gap in the energy budget.
Pape is backed in his strive for renewable power by a new German law (Energie Einspar Verordnung or EnEV) which states that every new house build after 2009 should be equiped with enough energy generation devices to cover 30 percent of it's energy needs.
Pape would also like to experiment with electrical vehicles, starting with taxi's and municipal cars, to act as a buffer in the electricity system. Eventually he would like to get rid of cars off the island altogether. “People visiting the island use their cars mainly as luggage carriers. We should be able to provide that service in another way and make them leave their cars at the mainland”.
But Pape knows that currently such a measure would be unfeasible. So he just bides his time, taking small, but well-aimed steps into a sustainable future for the island.