Güssing (,) is a town in Burgenland, Austria. It is located at, with a population of 3,811 (2011), and is the administrative center of the Güssing district.
The Güssing Castle, built in 1157, is the oldest castle in Burgenland and a regional landmark. The lords of Güssing (in Hungarian: Kőszeg, in Slovak: Kysak) were a noble family in the frontier region of Austria and the Kingdom of Hungary. Note that Kőszeg is the name of a nearby Hungarian town (known as Güns in German) to which the family moved its residence from Güssing in 1274. In 1522, it became the residence of the Batthyány family, one of the most distinguished Magnate families in Hungary.
Güssing, a major town in south Burgenland, a district comprising around 27,000 inhabitants, is the first community in the European Union to produce its whole energy demand – electricity, heating / cooling, fuels – out of renewable resources, all resources from within the region . However, to appreciate the enormity of this achievement, you need to rewind and go back to 1988 when Güssing was one of the poorest regions in Austria. Then, the community relied on agriculture, with farmers selling corn, sunflower oil and timber to make a living. While in terms of tourism, the main attraction was a 12th-century castle built by Hungarian nobles. On account of the geographically unfavorable location near the border, major trade or industrial enterprises did not exist at that time and the whole district did not have any infrastructure. This resulted in a scarcity of jobs, 70% weekly commuters to Vienna and a high rate of migration to other regions. € 6 million (£ 4.7million) fuel bill. To change this situation the “reformers” realized that substantial capital outflow from the region is due to the city’s energy sources. This included oil, power and fuel, while existing resources eg 45% forest land, remained largely unused. Thus the “reformers” proposed to abandon fossil energy and start producing and selling energy to the customers. So they wanted to keep that $ 6 Million (value for 1992, based on the cost of that year) in the city. In the early 1990s, a policy was proposed for the complete abandonment of fossil fuel-based energy. The objective is to supply, in a first step, the town of Güssing and subsequently the regionally renewable energy sources. The election of the mayor, Peter Vadasz, in 1992 accelerated the process, especially when he appointed Reinhard Koch, an electrical engineer and native of Güssing, to assess how the town could benefit from its natural resources, ie forest land. Koch was “fresh” out of university and was not willing to share the destiny of many local commuters in Vienna. The first step was taken to be in the city and should stop using fossil fuels. As a result of the energetic optimization of buildings in the town, the energy was reduced by almost 50%. Then a wood burning plant that provided heating for 27 houses was built. Then, a facility has been constructed which has been turned into fuel oil. In 1998, Koch and Vadasz saw a presentation by a Viennese scientist, Hermann Hofbauer, about a technological alternative. They asked Hofbauer and Vienna’s Technical University for a pilot project in Güssing applying the technology, where wood chips are gasified under high temperature conditions. Gas fuels a Jenbacher engine that produces electricity and the “by-product” heat is used to produce warm water for the district heating system. Plant efficiency about 82-85%. Güssing hosts today a number of innovative technologies, solutions, and patents. Today there is a team of highly trained technicians and scientists working in Güssing. The renewable-energy project is located in the Güssing county. Güssing today has an “energy” turnover of about 14 Million pa Part of the profit is invested in renewable energy projects. What effect has this had on the region? A special scheme (very easy – stable energy prices, not guaranteed, 10-15 years) promoting new businesses with direct and indirect jobs the city. (These jobs are in the City, region not calculated). Güssing has gone into the process of producing heavy metals, such as parquetry production or hardwood drying. The real highlight is the Blue Chip Energy, a first high-efficiency solar cell production in Austria, a Joint Venture with Solon AG, who came to Güssing only because they can power the plant with clean energy from the renewable resources. The town is conscious about the resources and is keen to take care and look after the surrounding forest to ensure they have a good supply of renewable energy for the future. Added to which, the town is currently using less than half of its annual growth rate. Thus, no cutting the substance. Within the process of becoming energy autonomous, a number of proprietary technologies and patents developed, to be applied in different fields, such as photovoltaics, biomass, etc. Also, extensive experience in analysis, preparation and implementation of such projects has been accumulated, that experience to be given to other cities and communities willing to go to the same renewable way. Güssing today enjoys truly international popularity. Thus, ECRE Güssing International AG was established as the central company to expose Güssing internationally (www.ecreag.com). Significant power plants include a 2MW electric power 4.5MW thermic wood gas generator power plant in Güssing and, in nearby Strem, a 0.5MW electric power 0.5MW thermic biomass gasification power plant using green silage re -growing raw materials like grass, clover, hands, sunflower. As side effect, extra income is being brought into the town through eco-tourism. Visitors flock to the world to gain inspiration from the town and to stay true to their eco-friendly roots, guests can stay in hotels and are electrically powered by renewables. Some 30,000 visitors were recorded during 2007.
* Dean Marcelja DI (ECRE AG) & Geraldine Faulkner (Sustainable Solutions), 2008