Its aims in so doing were to boost local employment and stimulate economic development whilst reducing fossil energy dependency and cutting the region’s energy expenditure. In 2013, Burgenland duly became the first region in Europe to cover its electricity needs with renewable local energy sources, including wind, solar power and biomass. This strategy created 5,560 new jobs in this state of 284,000 inhabitants and raised its per capita GDP from 71% (1995) to 81% (2008) of the EU-15 average.
Among the 250 renewable projects initiated throughout Burgenland, the town of Güssing focused on biomass production, using local resources from forestry and agriculture and building a number of district heating plants as well as a biomass power plant. The implementation of these projects attracted biomass experts to Burgenland, prompting the establishment of the European Centre for Renewable Energy and a specialised bioenergy research centre called ‘The Technikum’. This research pool allowed Güssing to develop all the existing technologies capable of converting biomass into energy.
As a result, over 1,000 new jobs were created in Güssing, which has a total population of 26,507, and over the last 20 years more than 50 new businesses have either been set up there or relocated to the town. This has made Güssing something of a model for other regions intent on taking active climate protection measures.
A great deal of time, effort and extensive resources have been spent on communication campaigns and public awareness-raising designed to inform citizens how they can contribute to Burgenland’s energy independence and how they benefit from Burgenland’s sustainable eco-friendly approach.
Continued access to funding is crucial if Burgenland is to continue its green transition. The Austrian Greens have actively lobbied for more resources and an even more efficient use of public investment, to enable the region to continue pursuing its innovative, successful Green agenda.
This Green success was published in the brochure "Green Jobs: Successes and Opportunities for Europe" of the Greens/EFA Group in the European Parliament.