Our energy: How we can grow and develop
The idea that the nation state and multinational corporations would make all our wishes and dreams come true is presently taken over by other ideas about decentralized, bottom-up inspired communities in which people learn to take charge of their own life together. These new ideas are generating energy. There is a social movement emerging in the direction of a more sustainable development: the ‘vital and resourceful society’ in which communities, cooperatives, and networks take on public responsibilities previously not actively taken care of by citizens; for example when it comes to energy supplies for the local community.
The use of solar, wind or waterpower, particularly in the countryside, provides excellent opportunities for de-centrally organized energy distribution systems that also manage to close financial loops at the local level.
The idea is to produce the renewable energy locally that is also required locally. Subsequently, the financial revenues can be used as leverage for achieving additional ambitions of the renewable energy agenda as well as for other social purposes. By saving energy and by producing the remainder energy that is needed as much as possible under community-owned management, a lot of our annual energy bill will stay to circulate inside our local community.
This does not only have a positive effect on the climate, but it is also good for the economy, for employment and for the quality of life. Producing energy under community-owned management results in multiple, sustainable value creation for the local community. Moreover, if everyone becomes involved, the energy transition has a better chance of being successful.
The heathland of the Peel area offers more unexpected opportunities, for example to farmers.
Certain types of agriculture make better use of natural resources that are locally available.
It allows agricultural practices to become more responsive to the dramatic changes that are currently occurring. There are a number of sites in the area that still have large quantities of peat and a relatively high water table. Due to the changing climate, other, agricultural sites are subjected to more frequent, violent showers and flooding. The inundation of these areas causes damage to plants that cannot cope with being in the water for too long. However, there are also crops that thrive under damp conditions. Good examples of these ‘paludi-culture’ are to be found in various other European regions. Relatively high water levels are also attractive for sequestering CO2 in the peaty soil. Nature management in the ‘Peelvenen’ thus creates favourable conditions for experimenting with relatively new applications in agriculture.
It is important to pool together expertise and entrepreneurship and to deliver a vision on circular food and commodity systems and then also seek to implement such a vision together as an inspirational example for other regions.