Could the renewable energy systems of Europe work in Northern Michigan? To find out, a fact-finding tour of Germany, Denmark and Sweden was conducted last fall by members of TC Light & Power, Bay Area Transportation Authority (BATA) and the TC Area Public Schools.
Findings of their 12-day tour have been released in a new DVD/video which will air on TC TV2 public television this month. The first showing was set for Sunday, Jan. 15 at 4:30 p.m., with broadcasts on Jan. 21 at 8 p.m., Jan. 25 at 7:30 p.m., and Feb. 6 at 6:30 p.m.
The focus in Europe is on wind power and alternative fuels, said Steve Smiley, an energy analyst who organized the tour. In Germany, the group attended the largest wind power exposition in the world at Husum. In Denmark, they were guests of the Nordic Folkecenter for Renewable Energy. Sweden offered a look at alternative fuels courtesy of the Swedish Bioenergy Association.
Smiley said that TC Light & Power has launched a one-year study into what it would take to provide 100% of the regions heat and power needs with renewable energy. The study is backed by a grant from the Michigan Public Service Commission.
Northern Europe offers a model:
bus fleets powered by biogas made from local trash;
wind power providing 100% of a regions net annual electricity;
biomass plants three times the size of the old TC Bayside Coal Plant meeting 90% of the electricity and heating needs of a town of 70,000;
wood chip gasification for heat and power;
Smiley said the success of small towns in Europe inspired the Traverse City group to believe that renewable energy could work here.
A small community that cooperatively owns more wind power than in all the state of Michigan gave the local group confidence that it can be done, because it has been done, he said.
See for yourself in the broadcast of the DVD/video, written and filmed by Nicole Davenport and produced by Brauer Productions. TC Light & Power has copies for group presentations by calling Jim Cooper at 231-932-4560.