Güssing, Austria – Fossil Fuel Free
Güssing, 100 miles south of Vienna, population 4000. In 1988 the annual fossil fuel bill amounted to $8.1 million. The community wanted to keep that money in town and started to look for ways to save energy and replace it with local sources. Answer: biomass, fueling a district heating system and in 1996 covered the entire town and generated electricity as well, all based on an area with 5 km radius. The city’s power plant produces on average 2 megawatts of electricity and 4.5 megawatts of heat, more than enough energy for the town’s needs, while only consuming one-third of the biomass that grows every year. In 2007 the NYT reported about the town, now they have a research institute focusing on ‘thermal and biological gasification and production of second-generation fuels’. Additionally 850 MW worth of solar panels are produced in Güssing, as well as several other photovoltaic and solar thermal companies. The town meanwhile earns $17 million per year due to locally produced renewable energy sales.