Wolfgang Paulsen, Bohmstedt, and Butendiek

By Paul Gipe


Wolfgang Paulsen is one of the owners of a Bürger wind project in the far northwest of Schleswig-Holstein near the Danish border. The community of Bohmstedt comprises a grand total of 650 people, 20 farms and, as Paulsen likes to emphasize, one pub, an essential element of German life.

In 1998 residents installed nine 600 kW turbines, all 5.4 MW owned locally. The turbines produce 11 million kWh/yr, enough generation for 3,000 north German households (~3,700 kWh/yr/household). “Our objective was to involve as many citizens as possible,” says Paulsen.

Families invested risk capital of Euro 1,500 each. Altogether they raised Euro 50,000 for planning and project development. If the project didn’t move forward, the investment was lost.

They needed to raise 15% of the Euro 5 million cost of the project. The remainder was financed with debt. Each family had to invest a minimum of ~Euro 25,000 per share.

“Wind is a local resource and it is our resource,” says Paulsen. “And we want to make money out of it.”

Paulsen also manages Butendiek (outside the dike), Germany’s proposed Bürgerbeteiligung offshore wind project west of the resort island Sylt.

The Butendiek share cooperative currently has 8,400 members and has overcome numerous planning obstacles. Still, the massive 240 MW project is years from fruition. The currently high prices for wind turbines and unexpected increases in the cost of the offshore foundations has delayed the project. This may be to everyone’s advantage as the technology for offshore turbines matures.

Paulsen, like Henning Holst (Husum), and Hans-Detlef Fedderson (Friedrich-Wilhelm-Lübke-Koog) is committed to renewable energy and to its cooperative development.

“We accept change in our landscape for a sustainable form of energy,” says Paulsen. “We want renewable energy, so we do it ourselves.”

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