Minden-Lübbecke Technology Centre

Raising awareness around energy generation and use

“Prosumers”, or consumers who produce green electricity using their own, renewable energy facilities and who use this energy in whole or in part, play an important role in shaping the energy transition. But there are still too few of them. The Minden-Lübbecke Technology Centre aims to change this by becoming an “Energy Demonstration House” – to raise awareness among visitors about the various systems for producing and consuming energy.

To date, around 150,000 households in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) cover at least part of their electricity usage through photovoltaics (PV) or combined heat and power generation (CHP, or cogeneration). According to a study carried out by the Institute for Ecological Economic Research (IÖW) on behalf of the NRW Consumer Advice Centre, thanks to the strong growth of this sector and the introduction of tenant energy-production projects, this figure could increase 17-fold by 2030. In order to attain this target and to increase consumer interest in decentralised power supplies, the Minden-Lübbecke Technology Centre (Technikzentrum) has set itself a new task: this non-profit association, which supports young people and adults in choosing careers, has transformed its space in the eastern Westphalian town of Hille into an “Energy Demonstration House”.

Climate protection objective:

  • Gradually expanding the Energy Demonstration House

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Photo: Technikzentrum Minden-Lübbecke e.V.

As an “Energy Demonstration House,” the Minden-Lübbecke Technology Centre demonstrates different means of climate-friendly energy production, among other things. The loam house on the Centre’s grounds is fully powered with energy generated from the wind and sun

A Technology Centre becomes an Energy Demonstration House

Visitors of all ages will learn about renewable energy, efficient energy production methods, as well as various methods for storing and transferring energy (e.g. temperature controls instead of radiators) – and the house provides a real-life view of how these applications work. To that end, this former cigar factory, which has housed the Technology Centre since 2011, was modernised and brought to current energy standards: in addition to converting all lighting to LED, the 130-year old landmarked building became partly powered using a wood gasification boiler. Furthermore, the building is equipped with gas-fired condensing boilers as well as different storage and heating systems. Further energy producing- and storage systems are presented using models.

The production of energy from renewable sources also takes place, in part, on-site. In addition to a few small wind turbines, which power a house made from straw and loam, solar energy is also produced here. Since photovoltaic panels can't be installed on or in this landmarked building, they were placed in the open space to the south of the building. The Technology Centre highlights the artistic design of its facilities, aiming to show that modern technology can be integrated without compromising a house's overall appearance. The e-bike charging station, powered with the energy generated on-site, is available for use, among others, by visitors travelling along the cycle path that runs behind the Technology Centre, along the Mittelland Canal, and which is very popular with tourists. To meet its own transport needs, the Technology Centre has purchased an electric scooter.

Continued expansion

By presenting different options for producing and consuming energy, the Technology Centre aims to highlight alternative energy sources, raise awareness about the value of energy, as well as encourage people to generate their own energy using renewable energy sources. Visitors are invited to take a close look at the facilities installed on-site and learn more about the specifics of each one. The Centre also hosts different events to inform visitors about energy savings opportunities as well as sustainable energy use. Over time, the existing demonstrations will be continually expanded upon as more facilities are installed. Among other things, a presentation of solar panel tiles for roofs is currently in the works.

Career advising since 1994

Since 1994, the Minden-Lübbecke Technology Centre has been advising youths and adults in their choice of career paths. According to recent figures by the German Center for Higher Education and Scientific Research (DZHW), 28 per cent of students in bachelor's programmes leave their studies without receiving a degree; meanwhile, one in four trainees drops out of their professional training early, according to the 2018 Vocational Studies Report. Around 30 employees, mostly in integrative or temporary positions, work at the Technology Centre to bring down this high number of drop-outs within the Minden-Lübbecke district and beyond. The Centre cooperates with schools, teachers, companies, associations, trade guilds, manufacturers, trade businesses and workshops to do so. The MINT Initiative is a core element of these activities. Through the “MINT Mobile” training programmes, youths can try out typical professional tasks and discover relevant abilities. Another component is the talent workshop, where school students learn about and try out various professional fields in their own schools. Events and opportunities for further training at the Technology Centre round out the programme.

Photo: Susanne Steuber

“Creative energy production and creative energy use – that is what the Energy Demonstration House stands for. Photovoltaic panels, although they have certain technological charm, may not always win over users. Maybe these solar panels need to be made colourful and artistic in order to convince people to install them in their gardens or place them on the walls of their houses.

Karin Ressel, managing director of Minden-Lübbecke Technology Centre e.V.