Turning every wind turbine into a Statue of Liberty
Taking people on this journey to energy independence and empowering communities with affordable, sustainable energy − making regions more independent
Location: Sulz im Weinviertel, Austria
Inhabitants: appr. 1,700
Total Area: Approximately 31.38 km²
Nestled in the picturesque Sulz im Weinviertel, a quaint village with around 1,700 residents, "Heimwatt" has emerged as a pioneering regional power provider with a unique approach to energy supply. Sulz consists of four cadastral communities – Obersulz, Niedersulz, Erdpreß, and Nexing, covering a substantial area in Lower Austria.
A Wind-Powered Transformation
This transformation was not just visible on the horizon, but also reverberated through the community, offering benefits that extended far beyond landowners and local authorities, ultimately reaching the residents. Ventureal, the entity responsible for operating the wind turbines in Sulz, sought a way to directly engage the local population and enhance their acceptance of wind power. The initial concept of a citizens' energy community, although well-intentioned, faced intricate challenges due to legal and technical complexities. Integrating a single wind turbine into such a community presented numerous hurdles:
Electricity feed-in at a specific grid level
The energy community should oversee turbine maintenance
Surplus electricity would need to be marketed if it exceeded local consumption
Managing larger investors when a turbine was no longer under the operator's control
Confronted with these complexities, Ventureal devised an innovative solution. They partnered with an established energy supplier to offer a postcode-dependent electricity pricing scheme tailored for the local community and started a new power-supplier called "Heimwatt".
The "Heimwatt" Electricity Tariff: A Game Changer
Starting in 2024 and continuing until the new wind turbines come online (planned for 2026), "Heimwatt" extends an exclusive offer to households in neighbouring communities. This offer stands out with a compelling pricing structure:
For the first 500 kWh consumed per household and business, residents pay an unprecedented 6 cents/kWh (net price, excluding grid tariffs).
Once the new turbines are operational, each household and company in the village can enjoy a fixed rate of 6 cents/kWh (net price, excluding grid tariffs) for up to 5,000 kWh yearly.
This new energy-model is one of a kind in Europe, is guaranteed for appr. 20 years and is an enormous support for the citizens saving money while inflation is high.
What sets this pricing apart is its stability – it's not subject to indexing or inflation adjustments. The guaranteed rate remains consistent for two decades. If market prices fall below 6 cents/kWh, residents have the flexibility to explore alternative energy providers. The "Heimwatt" tariff is exclusive to local postcodes, ensuring affordability and stability for the communities it serves.
Even when the wind turbines are temporarily inactive, the "Heimwatt" tariff remains in effect, further enhancing its appeal. Nonetheless, "Heimwatt" encourages participation in local/regional energy communities to maximize the benefits of locally generated energy and is committed to assisting municipalities in establishing such communities.
A Powerful Partnership for Affordable Energy
The collaboration with an established energy supplier empowers "Heimwatt" to offer this competitively priced electricity without the need to establish an entirely new private household electricity supply system. This cost-effective approach ensures that affordable, sustainable energy reaches local residents, while also upholding the high standards of quality and service.
Throughout its journey, "Heimwatt" has received invaluable support from many inhabitants of the village, stakeholders, media and supporters, connecting them with expertise from the Austrian Energy Agency and the coordination office for energy communities. These partnerships facilitated the planning process, addressed potential challenges, and devised effective strategies to overcome obstacles.
"Heimwatt" stands as an exemplary model of a community-driven energy initiative, a testament to how an innovative approach can empower citizens, provide economic benefits, and contribute to a sustainable future. Sulz im Weinviertel has set the stage for other regions to follow, emphasizing that local solutions can have a global impact on the future of clean energy and sustainable energy-systems.
Why “Heimwatt“ created a new energy-model
That is easily explained by their CEO Franz Blochberger: „Bans won't get us far. We can only achieve the energy transition together. That's why we mustn't forget the people. We need to take people along on this journey to energy independence. People only participate when they're motivated by something. That's why we choose the approach of involving people and allowing them to benefit from renewable energies, so people willingly support the energy transition“.
"Celebrating the winds of change, “Heimwatt“ illuminates our path to a greener future, one community at a time. With “Heimwatt“ we take care of our nature, help people saving money and make regions independent from global energy-crisis. Our new model turns every wind turbine into a Statue of Liberty!“
- Andreas, Martin and Franz Blochberger, the “Blochberger-brothers“: CEOs of Ventureal Projekt GmbH
|Sulz im Weinviertel, Austria
|Used energy generation technologies / implemented energy efficiency measures
|Number of members
|The project is currently in the planning phase, pre-registrations are already possible. In the implementation phase, all households in the municipality are potential members.
|Regional; the neighboring municipalities of the wind turbine profit from the new, fixed 6ct-tariff (net) for 5,000kWh/year for appr. 20 years