green city: Europe's solar city, Freiburg
Renewable Energy - Solar (and biomass)
In Freiburg, solar and biomass provide the bulk of the city's renewable energy. Freiburg is known as Europe's "solar city", installing more solar PV than any other city in Germany, and more than many European countries. Solar energy in Freiburg has guaranteed feed-in tariffs (thanks to Germany's Renewable Energy Act). Freiburg was home to the Solar Summit 2013, an event planned for investors, scientists, utility executives, and officials from various governments.
In addition to using solar power as a major energy source, the city turns garbage into biomass energy to power residences and businesses. Biomass in Freiburg relies, in part, on methanization, a process which turns organic matter into biogas. Methanization plants at the edge of the city are fed with separately collected organic waste (over 36,000 tons per year) provided by inhabitants (kitchen and garden waste). Although wood is burned in the biomass plant in the city district of Vauban's, landfill gas (methane) and waste are both used in the other plants in Freiburg. These, along with a plant that uses mostly rapeseed oil, supply combined heat and power (cogeneration) for district heating and electricity in the city.
Freiburg remains at the forefront of green building technologies, mandating that all new construction runs on a low energy output. Energy conservation is central to all new building in the city, and energy efficient retrofits are being applied to existing structures. Residential recycling programs go beyond standard measures, as compost is also collected in the form of kitchen and garden waste.
Freiburg promotes biking and walking, which have become increasingly popular. Biking accounts for over 1/4 of all transportation in the city. Over 300 miles of bike paths reduce automobile use, and thus also help to combat climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In order to help make alternative modes of transit even more attractive, all streets, other than major roads, have a max speed limit of 50 km/h. The city offers a Regio Card, which enables residents full access to all of the city's trams and buses. Also increasing the tram's accessibility, 70% of the population live within 1/2 km from a tram stop.
Green urban planning is paramount in Freiburg, and the city has designated green areas as a priority in land-use decisions. Almost half of the city remains protected as parks, forest or landscape - a big reason why biking and walking remain so popular. For more information on Freiburg, this article is an excellent resource.
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Please also see: green city: Portland