(Reuters) – Nations as diverse as North Korea and the United States have sent delegations to visit a tiny village in former East Germany to see how it has transformed the way it uses energy.
A 60-minute drive south of Berlin and home to about 125 people, Feldheim is Germany's first and only energy self-sufficient village and attracts both international energy experts and politicians.
"We're seen as pioneers and the world wants to know whether they can duplicate our success," said Joachim Gebauer, a 55-year-old former teacher who guides visitors through the remote hamlet.
"No coal or gas is burned here, it's all clean."
Instead, Feldheim is powered by a mix of 43 wind turbines, a woodchip-fired heating plant and a biogas plant that uses cattle and pig slurry as well as maize silage.
Local energy costs of 16.6 euro cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) are just a little more than half of the 27-30 cents Germans pay on average, according to the New Energies Forum Feldheim, an information center.
Feldheim's rates are not far off those in Poland, which generates nearly all its electricity from carbon-intensive coal-fired plants.
Households there paid on average 14 cents per kWh in 2012, while those in the Czech Republic, which relies on nuclear for about a third of its power generation, paid about 15 cents per kWh
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