Sunday, July 5, 2009

Energy-pioneering Austrian town exports its model

After 20 years investing in renewable energy, the small Austrian town of Guessing, a model of energy self-sufficiency, is spreading its pioneering technology far and wide.

A town of 4,300 inhabitants near the Hungarian border, Guessing launched into renewable energy in the early 1990s and now produces more than it can consume.

The latest project, opened last week, is a one-megawatt plant capable of producing gas from wood chips.

According to its backers, this gas can be used in normal gas networks, urban heating systems, and cars or power stations that work on gas.

The technology, developed jointly with Switzerland, has already attracted attention from major energy companies.

"Vattenfall (from Sweden), EDF (France) and E.ON (Germany) are all interested in the plant," Guessing's mayor Peter Vadasz noted proudly.

A similar plant to the one in Guessing -- which can heat 150 homes on a cold winter's day -- but 25 times more powerful is already in the works in Goeteborg, Sweden.

About 20 years ago, Guessing was still a sleepy town in the eastern Austrian province of Burgenland, but its foray into renewable energy soon turned it into a pioneer. … The town now produces more energy than it can use …

Energy-pioneering Austrian town exports its model.

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