A "zero-emission-Vision 2050" for the urban region of Weiz-Gleisdorf which was based on an interdisciplinary stakeholder process was developed within the project and backed up with a road map and action plans. Here, the topics of communication, information, energy, buildings, mobility, and the human-technology interface in particular have been addressed and intelligently linked.
Weiz-Gleisdorf is a fast-growing urban region with 18 districts and the cities of Weiz and Gleisdorf (41,600 inhabitants) are located approximately 20 kilometers east of the city of Graz. Since 1996, the development association “Energy Region Weiz-Gleisdorf” has created a valuable base for work that will be continued as part of the “Smart Energy” project. In 2007, the energy region Weiz-Gleisdorf was confirmed as the leading region in the funding period 2007-2013.
“The region is flourishing!” – The region has developed excellently through the consistent implementation of the vision and the focus on energy issues. The companies in the region can compete on the world market and have innovation-driven growth and have created lot of “green jobs”. It’s also thanks to this that the unemployment rate in the region is still far below the national average. This is enabled and supported by management that co-ordinates the consistent co-operation in the region, a non-partisan approach of the key players, regional spatial planning, and in particular taking the energy aspects into account and the participation of citizens.
In the energy region, on the one hand the expansion of electricity grids to “smart” networks was put in to place, and on the other hand, a finely structured gas network was built. These networks intertwine harmoniously and compensate for peak demand from industry and households. These two networks also provide the mobility in the region by using biogas and electric mobility.
E-mobility is a large part of the traffic within the region. Biogas mobility is in the foreground nationwide. In addition to individual transport, sophisticated car-sharing facilities and a well-developed network of public transport are available.
In terms of housing, the initiative of the citizens is very much on the move. New buildings are being built as “plus-energy buildings” – which produce more energy than they consume. High-tech control systems in the buildings and regional energy planning bring additional synergy effects.
The energy production is decentralized and uses its own integrated regional resources. This was also made possible by the development of agro-forestry systems. This allows the regional food supply and large-scale energy plantations (short term) to be combined. In addition, the agriculture works on the principles of soil conservation and the humus structure which is a further contribution to sustainable business practices and protects the climate.
Through these achievements, the region has developed an outstanding image. It is clear to see that the energy region has become a world leader in the implementation of cutting-edge energy technologies through the consistent implementation of the Vision 2050. Existing structures allow that external impulses in technology development can continue to be accepted and implemented.
Developed action plan
The project “iEnergy Weiz – Gleisdorf 2.0 – the power of a vision!” was based on Energy Vision 2050. The aim was the visible anticipation of this vision in the form of individual demonstration projects and the public visibility of visionary solutions. The overall sustainable solutions primarily originated through citizen participation – the use of innovative technologies and their integration into intelligent products and services and their user-oriented demonstration were important impulses for the energy-consciousness of people on a collective and individual level.
The following demonstration projects illustrate the vision at different levels of impact:
- iEnergy Vision Monitor: gives the citizens information about the current status of the implementation of Energy-Vision
- iEnergy Origin Scan: informs the customers about the current electricity composition in the region of consumption site
- iEnergy Aid Fund: alternative financing mechanism for renewable energy or to finance energy efficiency measures
Level demonstration projects (energy independence):
Based on the experience and success of project phase 1, it became clear that the concept of “smart cities” and the energy autonomy associated could only then become a reality if an integral consideration of technological innovation, structural innovation and social innovation took place, and this be done with a specific, tangible approach, aligned to the relevant target groups. The four demonstration projects were therefore selected for the solutions developed for the four key user groups which have potential and give confidence to the general implementation of specific solutions for the future.
- User segment “trade, service” (innovation center Weiz IV)
- User segment “Industry“ (ELIN motor manufacturer)
- User segment “Private“ (redevelopment of the retirement home in Gleisdorf)
- User segment “Public“ (Area Smart-x)
The scenario “The region is flourishing” is the image of the future in 2050 and of Vision 2050. The development process and the public participation process should definitely be continued on the basis of this vision of the future, including the qualitative results of the scenarios routes, to meet the ever-changing ideas about the future of the individual citizens of the energy region and to continually expand the basis of the shared vision of the future.
With the transdisciplinary and participatory approach to the development of Vision 2050, the potential was visible that a view to the further development of “Energy Region Weiz-Gleisdorf” was possible. In the course of “iEnergy” an area was created in which not only the transfer of knowledge could take place, but also new knowledge could be generated by the integration of different experiences and knowledge stocks.
Therefore a communication and negotiation process was set in motion which on the one hand lent itself as an open space for public debate, and on the other hand intensified the political debate among policy makers and contributed to the formation of a new arena for communication between representatives of different sectors of society. The last point seems to be of particular need, especially as the institutional body of the energy region was strongly supported by policy makers. In order to generate a broad identification with the energy region it was therefore increasingly needed to involve stakeholders from different sectors of society in the institutional body of the energy region (at policy level). It was shown in the course of the vision building process that interest had prevailed here.
These experiences and the many new or renewed contacts between the institutional body of the energy region and the citizens of the Weiz-Gleisdorf region should definitely be used as a starting point for a continuous process of participation.
The studies have also shown that the measures taken regarding buildings in the energy region have an effect on the acceptance of technologies. A greater acceptance was found of building energy technologies compared to the little accepted technologies in the mobility sector.
This shows the relevance of the role-model function of the community, which continues to grow. Our analyzes also showed that the social environment is strongly correlated with assessment of the advantages and disadvantages of technology. This underlined the importance of pioneer users for a transition towards Vision 2050.