Steinhagen and Woerden: Old friends, new energy
Steinhagen in the state of North-rhine Westphalia has been twin city with the Dutch city of Woerden since 1972. Together they are part of the project “Energiewende Twinning Towns”, aiming to learn from each other in the field of Renewable Energies, en route to achieving their climate targets.
The 21.000 residents of Steinhagen want to live fossil-free by 2050 at the latest. Their Dutch partners are even more ambitious, targeting to be a CO2-neutral city without fossil fuels by 2030. The climate target also includes their departure from natural gas, which is especially widespread in the Netherlands since the discovery of the gas fields in Groningen.
“We want to design our future together! Therefore, every resident of Woerden shall be part of the energy transition, but also the region around us and of course our European partners from Steinhagen!” Tymon de Weger, councillor department for sustainability in Woerden.
Woerden takes a holistic approach to achieve its climate targets: Besides renovating the city hall, rental housing was renovated climate-friendly, E-charging stations within the city were put into operation and energy storage tested. There are around 400 solar power systems installed on the city hall. A closer look at the city will reveal a climate-neutral school, new terraced houses with photovoltaic systems as well as Renewable Energy projects in co-operation between the corporate sector. The industry is also participating in the town’s commitment: the industrial park would like to reduce its energy consumption by 20 percent until 2022. Woerden has recognized that not only the local administration, citizens and the economy have to be part of the energy transition, but also the surrounding region needs to integrate renewable energy. This is why Woerden is currently developing a Regional Energy Strategy that defines which renewable energy technology will be used in which areas.
Steinhagen is similarly committed to climate protection, which can be seen in various climate protection concepts for the commercial sector, mobility and the municipality itself. In 2015 the city covered 22 percent of its energy demand with renewable energy. The municipality has installed solar thermal energy, biogas plants, geothermal energy and a small hydropower plant. Also, wind turbines were built with citizen participation. Furthermore, the municipality-owned local public utility delivers renewable electricity to small customers. Also here, the holistic approach comes into play, as municipality-owned local public utility has installed charging stations to support its renewable mobility transformation. A common concept for electric charging stations for bicycles and cars supplement the already existing climate protection concepts of the city.
“Current topics such as climate protection and the energy transition are important for everybody – including the European level. We can only achieve a common understanding and solutions to these current questions through intensive exchange while being open to learn from each other. Steinhagen and Woerden are definitely ready to hit the ground running!” Klaus Besser, Mayor Steinhagen.
Together, the twin cities want to continue friendship and exchange. Starting at the beginning of October, their cooperation in the Project EnergieWende PartnerStadt will revolve around the energy transition in traffic, building management, energy storage and citizen participation. Lectures and excursions will be given to promote discussion and knowledge exchange. Especially the planned visits to farms and the new city hall in Woerden will make the practice of Renewable Energy more tangible. Citizen participation shall be debated with a focus on the participation of low-income households and the elderly generation. The cooperation already promises a lot of new things for the energy transition!