County of Osterholz

The County of Osterholz is located in Lower Saxony and neighbouring directly to the hanseatic city of Bremen. It is a transitional area linking the rural areas of the Elbe-Weser triangle to the metropolitan area of Bremen. Economy is quite weak. The inhabitants in their majority are commuting to jobs in Bremen or Bremerhaven.

The County has 112.200 inhabitants and consists of 7 municipalities:

  • The County capital Osterholz- Scharmbeck with 30.415 inhabitants
  • Ritterhude with 14.617 inhabitants
  • Lilienthal with 18.257inhabitants
  • Schwanewede with 20.015 Inhabitants
  • Worpswede with 9.449 inhabitants
  • Grasberg with 7.664 inhabitants and
  • Hambergen with 11.773inhabitants.
Stakeholders from County of Osterholz in Güssing September 2008 with Mayor Peter Vadasz

Local North Sea SEP projects

The region is represented in the North Sea - SEP consortium by two partners, the municipality of Osterholz- Scharmbeck and the stock company REON. The municipality of Osterholz-Scharmbeck is hosting as the other municipalities on the county territory as subpartners and also took over the project tasks from the County of Osterholz, which has been a full partner during the application phase oft the project.

The participation in North Sea - SEP is part of the mission "Energiewende OHZ 2030" ("Energy u-turn Osterholz 2030"). Under this mission-statement municipalities, county and local businesses in Osterholz aim on meeting the demands of climate protection. Overall goal is to become largely independent from energy importation until 2030. First at all it is intended that also in Osterholz the requirements of the federal government and the EU are met to reduce greenhouse gases.

North Sea - SEP is expected to deliver the ideas and resources to lay the basement for the long term task of an energy u-turn in the county of Osterholz.

Specific goals of North Sea - SEP in Osterholz are:

  • The development of a strategy and roadmap for the energy u-turn based on an analysis of the local potentials and measures deducted from this analysis.
  • Development of structures for process steering and networking of forces and activities on the county territory aiming on the creation of an intercommunally energy agency.
  • Related PR measures with seminars, information events and a web portal "Energiewende 2030" to disseminate good practice and consumer information
  • Planning and implementation of one pilot activity in each municipality

Characteristics from the energy perspective

Moreover, the issue is to use the strong potential of green industries to increase the economic potential of the region. Approximately 150 million EUR are spent annually by citizens and businesses in the county on energy, electricity and heat. Here the cost of transport is not yet included. The lion's share of the money spent on energy is a loss of power of purchase without any effect on the local economy. Keeping a maximum of this money inside the area is an important challenge. This money shall be used in energy efficiency measures and decentralised energy production with renewable resources and, by this way offering jobs for the local economy.

A specific challenge is, that only a well planned mix of measures which do not harm other pillars of the economic development (like tourism) can lead to success. Monocultures on energy crops like corn should be avoided as well as the destruction of the landscape shape by non- restricted construction of wind turbines. Also the increase of local energy production must go hand in hand with the reduction of energy consumption.

The idea to make a u-turn in local energy policies was not a quick shoot. It is the result of a 2 years discussion process of local stakeholders. A trip to Güssing in Austria where a consequent orientation on local energy resources led to the creation of more then 1.000 jobs in a rural environment showed that the mission would not be utopian if a solid basement and a good concept is available.