|Sustainable Energy News - No. 06 September 1994 (INFORSE, 1994)|
by Manfred Rottjes
The Federal State of Saxony, situated in the south east of Germany and bordering the Czech Republic and Poland, was once a centre of small hydropower. More than 3000 plants were registered before 1939, producing a large proportion of the electricity in the area. More than 20 companies were producing hydraulic and electric equipment. During the socialist period, the production of electricity was mainly concentrated in a few large lignite-fired plants. A number of purnpedstorage schemes were also operated. The use of small hydroelectric plants by private individuals was systematically discouraged for decades.
When the DDR ceased to exist formally on Octobers, 1990, a number of small, mainly defunct plants were returned to their previous owners. As they had been unable to collect private capital, they found themselves confronted with a serious lack of funds. Commercial banks refused to give them credit as they could not offer sufficient security.
The GLS-Bank (Gemeinschaflsbank) in Bochum had successfully launched two wind energy funds. Through these funds, numerous ecologically minded individuals lent money to specific renewable energy projects. They were not interested in the maximum possible interest rate, but they prefered to lend their money to investment projects which complied with their ecological and ethical ideals. To handle the newly established hydropower fund of the GLS-Bank, the Wasserkraft Sachsen GmbH (Hydropower Saxony Ltd.) was founded as a non-profit organization.
The Wasserkraft Sachsen GmbH (WSG) comprises ten owners of defunct hydropower plants from various regions of Saxony. The purpose of the association is to assist its members in the reconstruction of their plants by:
· consulting members in technical and financial matters channelling the funds to the members and organizing the financial transactions arranging mutual assistance among the members
The WSG has also enhanced economic cooperation in the region. Hydraulic and electric equipment are bought from the neighbouring Czech Republic and Poland at very competitive prices. Members of WSG have worked out proposals to modify the hydraulic structures to comply with today's ecological demands.
The activities of the WSG au d its members have been highly efficient and have found wide coverage in the media. At the end of the founding year 1992, not more than two members had their plants operating at a capacity of 300 kW. At the end of 1993, three additional plants were running, amounting to another 300 kW. With the commissioning of five more plants by the end of 1994, generating capacity will rise to around 1000 kW, and many more projects are in the planning stages.
The author is a mechanical engineer. Member of Wasserkraft Sachsen GmbH. Further information fron' Pirnaer Str. 15, D-01819 Langenhennersdorf