As an urban citizen, one might feel excluded by nature and the issues it comes along with. Nevertheless, Viennese residents have the unique chance to become part of the sustainability discourse and get involved: by owning solar panels and wind generators in the countryside but also in the middle of the city, eventually bettering the environment around them.
An article about how each and everyone of us can be part of the extension of renewable energy to the urban area.
Life in the city is supposed to have it all. The ever growing plethora of opportunities regarding art&culture, extravagant cuisine and night life, progressive social events, dazzling colors and noises and smells and people 24/7/365… The city and its overwhelming abundance; What else could you ask for?
Well, life in the city can also be a life of multifaceted exclusion. Excluded by society, since the anonymity of the mass can crush surprisingly heavily on your shoulders. Excluded by this never ending number of options, since this very deluge can easily frighten somebody off.
And, most importantly, excluded by nature. No park, no garden in the backyard or flower on your balcony could ever satisfy man’s need for nature. Moreover, the responsibility that humanity carries in terms of environmental sustainability fades away, too: lost in the grey color of dull, prefabricated buildings, soaked up by concrete blocks in order to eventually seep into the streets’ black tar. Viable energy management or alternative forms of energy generation: issues like these can easily be locked out of your window of your 9th floor apartment.
Moreover, contributing to environmental sustainability as an individual is not that simple either. Where to start, how and when?
Out of sight, out of mind; And where there is no nature, the inner urge to care for it might fade away.
But what about those who, while living in the city, still wish to be included in the sustainability discourse?
Wien ist anders
They say Vienna is different though.
Apart from the high number of public green spots and parks, more and more social movements and collective initiatives intend to bring even more nature back to the city.
Urban gardening or guerilla gardening serve the need to create “green recovery and meeting places” . The Nachbarschaftsgarden Macondo in the 11th district for instance is a wonderful example for the admirable commitment of pupils, teachers, neighbors and nature-lovers who intend to make their city a greener place.
If you wish to follow Guerilla Gardening Vienna’s theme “plant your city”, check out these workshops.
Still, there is more.
Get included: Citizen solar panels and wind generators for Vienna
Starting in 2012, Wien Energie realized the idea of urban citizens owning a solar panel and even parts of wind generators.
In a nutshell:
Wien Energie builds, plans and operates the facility, feeds the green electricity into the electricity grid and pays all the expenses. As an inhabitant of Vienna, you can get involved, earn money and promote the increased use of renewable energies.
The citizen solar panels were a complete success: In only a week, the first solar panel plant was sold, while for the third one, it was only a matter of 24 hours to sell the panels to Viennese residents.
And as usual, numbers don’t lie: While the photo-voltaic plants have expanded to an area as large as 17 soccer fields in the past four years, 7.800 tonnes of CO2 have been saved. By 2030, Wien Energie intends to raise the use of renewable energy up to 40%.
The TEDxVienna team wandered around the city’s streets and collected its peoples’ responses.
“It seems like a win-win situation for me. I earn money, get the feeling of producing my own electricity and contribute to environmental healing.” J., 37, 1030 Vienna.
“I’d never give up this city, not for anything in the world. But I don’t want my children to grow up in a barren grey zone, either. Alternative forms of energy are undoubtedly the future, and this sounds like a good idea to start the future with”. M, 28, 1080 Vienna.
“I have to be honest here and admit that I’m not a gardening person. All this dirt…Owning a solar panel somewhere in Lower Austria which will eventually make my city run on an environmentally friendly mode: that’s convenient, it soothes my consciousness and it involves far less dirt than planting flowers.” N, 21, 1160 Vienna.
“Solar energy is a winner, because it’s just out there. It’s time to take advantage of it, each and everyone of us” A, 42, 1190 Vienna.
Not owning a plot of land is no longer an obstacle for urban citizens who want to get involved in matters of renewable energy. Thanks to the solar panels inside and outside of Vienna, and also the wind generators one can own a share of, each and everyone has the chance to contribute to environmentally friendly energy production.
Undoubtedly, it demands high interest in sustainability to get involved; However, the procedure is so simple and uncomplicated that no prior experience or knowledge is needed to obtain a panel. No wonder they were sold out so quickly!
Got interested? Inform yourself here about Wien Energie’s citizen solar panels and get convinced about the power each and every citizen can hold when it comes to renewable energy for his or her city.
What’s next? #windmachen
Under the concept of „BürgerInnen Kraftwerke“, Wien Energie offers the possibility to acquire shares of wind generators, beginning on September 12th, 2016.
What’s new though?
In contrast to the first-come-first-serve principle that was applied on the offer of owning solar panels or parts of a wind park, this time it’s all about drawing a lot: 5158 shares of wind generators are out there, and after having registered some weeks in advance, you might get your own part of a wind generator. Don’t miss to check out how the project was realized:
Cover image by the author.