Güssing Changed Their Fortunes By Changing their Practices
Prior to 1990 the town of Güssing was in trouble. They had a fossil fuel expense of over $8 million per year and unemployment was high. People were leaving the town and there didn’t seem to be any hope. In 1990 they introduced energy savings programs using efficient light bulbs and building insulation. These moves alone cut their energy usage by almost 50%
Since Güssing is surrounded by over 130 hectares of forest, they were using biomass to replace fossil fuels. Using biomass to heat a handful of homes the town eventually all public buildings were fossil fuel free. In 2001, Güssing installed a biomass gasification plant, the first industrial-scale power plant of its kind in the world. (Gasification is a process that converts organic or fossil fuel based carbonaceous materials into carbon monoxide, hydrogen and carbon dioxide. This is achieved by reacting the material at high temperatures (>700 °C), without combustion, with a controlled amount of oxygen and/or steam.– wikipedia)
Within six years they had cut carbon emissions by 90%, turned their economy around and become a beacon of sustainability and progress. To the point that they are now also an ecotourist attraction. Between 1997 and 2005 Güssing attracted some 50 new companies, creating more than 1,000 new jobs.
In 1996 The European Centre for Renewable Energy was founded.
From their website:
The European Centre for Renewable Energy (Germ. abbr. EEE), headquartered in Güssing (southern Burgenland), was founded in 1996. With its employees, currently 14 in number, the EEE develops lasting regional and community-based concepts for energy conservation. And also for the generation and use of renewable energy.
As a reliable partner in various national and European networks the EEE has gained an excellent reputation in the fields of research and development and project management. They have long been a sought-after coordinating office. The EEE is also a co-founder of Eco Energy Land. Which acts as an umbrella organisation for all energy-related activities in the Güssing region. It organises lectures and training in the field of renewable energy and tours through Eco Energy Land.
The EEE has also formed a solar school project designed to educate and train students in the fields of photovoltaic, solar-thermal and heat pump technology.
The Güssing Model, as it has been termed according to the EEE, is the strategy of de-centralised, local energy production. With all available renewable resources in a region. This model was developed based on the necessity to stop depopulation, to increase economic growth and to be independent from fossil fuels. It is the quintessence of what has been happening in Güssing since the early 1990s with significant involvement of the EEE. Since every region has certain resources in different measures, the model can serve as an example for many communities.
The EEE is now part of a multi-tiered network for innovation and information sharing across the Europe. For more information on the various partnerships and programs, visit the EEE site. The Güssing Model has been reproduced in other cities as the awareness and benefits of a renewable industry spread.