Gussing exemplifies the promise of renewable energy

October 21, 2013 0 By Tami Hood

Renewable energy helps save Austrian town

A small town in Austria has accomplished a major feat recently, thanks to its focus on renewable energy and resources. The town of Gussing has had no significant industry or trade business for much of its existence, but has thrived despite this fact. The town boasts of a population of 4,000, which is growing relatively slowly, and is located in one of the most impoverished districts in Austria. Gussing has, however, managed to stave off poverty and ultimate collapse by adopting aggressive policies that called for the elimination of fossil-fuels and the adoption of renewable energy and resources.

Cutting fuel expenditure breathes new life into Gussing

Gussing has been spending more than $8 million annually on fossil-fuels. Fuel costs were sapping money from the town and causing a significant spike in unemployment. In an effort to preserve the local economy and bring new life to Gussing, the town’s leaders instituted a policy wherein all public buildings were renovated to become more energy efficient. This policy was enacted in 1990 and has led to a nearly 50% drop in energy expenditure.

Renewable Energy - Gussing, AustriaBiomass revolutionizes town

Gussing is not known as a particularly attractive location for wind or solar energy systems, but the town and its surrounding area is rich in biomass. The town is surrounded by some 328 acres of forest filled with wood that is naturally decomposing. This wood can be used to generate electrical power as well as heat for homes and businesses. In 1996, Gussing began tapping into the power of biomass, establishing a sustainable forestry initiative designed to harvest biomass while also preserving the town’s forests.

Renewable energy spurs economy growth

Gussing has become a model for what can be accomplished through a focus on renewable energy and sustainable resources. In 2007, Gussing became the first town in the European Union to successfully reduce carbon emissions by more than 90%. Today, the town relies entirely on renewable energy and is home to 60 new businesses that have created 1,500 new jobs. The town produces enough energy to sell to the rest of Austria, producing more than $17 million in yearly revenue.