In a world where civilization is fast messing up the environment with every step towards ‘progress’, Varese, a town in Northern Italy, comes as a refreshing surprise!
It is like a dream town. Unbelievable though it may sound, it runs on 100% renewable power. The town uses a mix of wind, solar and small-scale hydropower. But that doesn’t in any way mean that the town is incurring any loss for the sake of the environment. The town has reaped benefits from the energy network through added jobs, and an additional 350,000 euros [US $514,000] in tax revenues which is handed over to the council each year. Varese has also seen a six-fold increase in tourists in the last ten years, many coming just to see its renewable energy network.
The town is developing in leaps and bounds. Varese became the first municipality in Europe to get 100% of its power from renewable energy sources six years ago. It now generates three times more electricity than the demand is for and there are plans in the pipeline for even more renewables. That’s not all. The town has also launched initiatives to make Varese 100% sustainable. A total of 108 organic farms now supply 98 percent of the town’s food; water is purified using environmentally friendly technology, and waste has been significantly reduced.
You must be wondering how this works. Let me tell you. Four wind turbines located on a ridge 1100 meters above sea level — where the average annual wind speed is 7.2 meters per second — generate 8 million kWh of electricity a year that is fed into the local grid managed by Acam, a power company in La Spezia. Photovoltaic (PV) panels have been installed on the town hall and the local school. The town hall has 102 PV panels covering 95 square meters and generating 12,700 kWh a year, which supplies 98 percent of the total energy consumption of the building. Varese’s secondary school has 39 PV panels covering 36 square meters and producing 4,600 kWh a year, which supplies 62 percent of the energy used.
They haven’t even spared the swimming pool! It is heated by solar power. The use of wood pellet stoves is on the cards.
One can only wish all the places in the world take this town as their role model. The world would develop a striking resemblance with heaven that way.