270 people have united to create the first off-grid village in Denmark. The goal is to produce their own electricity and heat. In addition, they will collect and purify their own drinking water, as well as treat their own wastewater.
Across the globe, off-grid villages are springing up in locations as diverse as Japan, the USA and Australia. Motivated by the desire to live a simpler life, have a smaller environmental impact and secure a stable power supply, they are rapidly becoming a global phenomenon. Now a small community have joined forces in a little Jutlandic town in Denmark to do the same. The name of the village is Fertile Soils and, if all goes to plan, will be established near Ebeltoft in eastern Jutland. The aim of the project is contribute to the participants’ goal of leading a more sustainable life, create economic opportunities in rural areas and help the inhabitants become independent of utility companies.
The area intended for the village consists of 70 building sites. The houses will be constructed in line with sustainable building practices, and the inhabitants will finance the cost themselves, thereby avoiding debt. The houses will be designed to be off-grid.
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Factory for eelgrass insulation
Fertile Soils intends to purchase a 10,000 m2 disused factory building situated on the neighbouring ground to help residents develop businesses and thereby create jobs for the inhabitants of the village and hopefully for other people in the area as well.
There are already a lot of ideas for businesses, including plans to start a new, ground-breaking fishing guild, zero-waste production of prefabricated straw houses and modular tree houses, which will also provide housing options for those who do not wish to build something themselves.
Furthermore, there are proposals to start production of eelgrass insulation, mass and flex ovens with a by-production of electricity and heat, ventilating windows, flue gas scrubbers and much more.
At first, it sounds like any rural district’s dream, but it is more than just that. It is about taking responsibility and taking your life in your own hands, says one of the founding fathers of the scheme.
-By going off-grid, we become more aware of our consumption of energy and resources and then we take responsibility. By buying this factory we also take responsibility for our own work life and we prove that there is a large potential to create life and employment opportunities in rural Denmark, says straw house builder and primary school teacher Steen Møller.
The prototype of an off-grid house in Fertile Soils consists of a large greenhouse with a house inside. The house can be anything from a tiny House to a larger family house.
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The technical solutions are based on well-known technology. The electricity will be primarily derived from solar cells on the roof while the warm water will come primarily from solar thermal collectors.
The rain water is collected from the surface of the greenhouse where after it is purified and can be used as drinking water. The sewage from each houses is stored in a reservoir underneath the house wherefrom it is absorbed by the plants in the greenhouse: tomatoes, grapes, cucumbers, melons etc.
The heating comes from a mass oven covered by a type of tiles known as TEG-cells that produce electricity from the heat-cold effect – approximately 1kwh per day. The consumption in each house is very low and the technologies are a combination of high- and low-tech solutions.
-In the media, sustainability is discussed at an unprecedented level, but concrete action is seriously lacking. We have discussed sufficiently, we have read enough books, now we want to walk the talk and give the power to the practitioners and let them come up with a solution for a good, sustainable life, continues Steen Møller.
Fertile Soils has the option of buying the closed-down factory by Ebeltoft with hand-over of the property in the spring 2018.
-We hope to be able to establish the off-grid village on the ground next to the factory, says chairman of Fertile Soils Jens Randrup.
-There are still a few outstanding formalities in relation to Syddjurs Municipality but we are hoping that everything will be solved over the next few months. We have a good cooperation with the public authorities and we have experienced a big interest in the project from a wide range of people but there is room for more in the project, he adds.