Standing together for a better future: renewable energy as knowledge transfer
What do Fridays for Future and partnerships between municipalities have in common? Why do counties put younger generations first? And why should they do so? A lot of Fridays for Future groups organize educational events, which focus on the topic of climate. So what if social movements and municipalities have the same goal – education on climate protection?
Marburg-Biedenkopf and Koscierzyna are part of the project Energiewende PartnerStadt, because the protection of climate goes beyond borders. Both counties go big: Together they want to realize an educational concept for climate protection. Students will benefit, but so will the transfer of knowledge when it comes to the extensions of renewable energy like wind-, solar power and bioenergy.
“The Energiewende will have a future if we take future generations on board” - Heike Wagner, Marburg-Biedenkopf
The counties have been partners for more than 15 years now and have already discussed renewable energy at an energy forum they organized. Even back then, renewables weren’t newbies anymore. The county of Marburg-Biedenkopf has encouraged the regional economic value by installing local heating systems, PV, solar thermal and wind farms. Citizens are also involved in registered cooperatives and invest in renewables. The county of Koscierzyna shares the interest of civic participation - either through informational events or registered cooperatives.
Close to the Baltic, Koscierzyna has great opportunities for renewables, with high winds at the sea and space for renewable raw materials. In addition to geography, Koscierzyna has purification plants, which can be used for biogas. Currently Koscierzyna is investigating installing solar-powered pumps for irrigating farmland in a cooperative. Marburg-Biedenkopf can also share its experience with other cooperatives, so both counties can make a difference.
“Refurbishing schools and public buildings has shown us that small changes can make a big difference. Cooperating with Marburg-Biedenkopf will make a difference.” - Monika Wollik-Litwin, Koscierzyna
An energy-coach from Marburg-Biedenkopf will be available for transferring knowledge and implementing school concepts about renewable energy. However, it is important that knowledge transfer start at a young age: Students from both counties will be taught how to build a mini solar car during workshops starting early spring of 2020. Therefore, manuals need to be translated into Polish, and teachers need to be trained. A school exchange program will be established in the meantime. Energy and climate protection need to be taught to our younger generations to encourage the Energiewende on all levels. The Energiewende PartnerStadt project shows that it is possible to transfer knowledge and share experience across borders.
Exchange in Kościerzyna (September 2020)
On September 28th and 29th 2020, the German-Polish workshop took place under strict hygiene measures in Kościerzyna. For more than 15 years, the districts of Marburg-Biedenkopf and Kościerzyna have maintained a partnership in order to engage in European topics such as the energy transition locally through mutual exchange. The delegation was received by the District Administrator Alicja Żurawska. She emphasized the necessity of knowledge transfers in order to promote the energy transformation in both twinning towns.
The core of the exchange were educational workshops at two schools in the district Kościerzyna. At a primary and a secondary school, the pupils were first given a theoretical introduction to climate change so that they could understand the role of renewable energy in protecting the climate and conserving planetary resources. After the introduction, it was time for practical work: Under the guidance of the team from Marburg-Biedenkopf, the primary school children built "SolarCup boats" from recyclable plastic bottles and packaging. The older pupils built "SolarCup cars" with the help of an explanatory video and written instructions. After the successful construction, the vehicles were then tested in the respective schoolyards. The race track for the cars built in Marburg was also presented to the Polish school. Both projects were well received by the students, the Polish teachers and the officials present.
Furthermore, the municipal energy, heat and water supplier of Kościerzyna "Kos-Eko" was visited together with the mayor of the city, Michał Majewski. Since Poland's energy supply currently still depends heavily on coal-fired power generation, but the country wants to achieve the European climate goals by 2050, Kos-Eko is increasingly switching its energy production to gas and, above all, to biomass. It is also increasingly relying on combined heat and power generation.
The participants and the mayor of the municipality Kościerzyna, Grzegorz Piechowski, also discussed the financing of renewable energy and the local administration as a role model. One success in the region is the installation of two photovoltaic plants with 5 MW and 1.5 MW capacity each. The long-standing partnership with the district of Marburg-Biedenkopf was named as a good example for the exchange of experience in the energy transition.