Windpark Hilchenbach: A wind farm in the forest

In 2009, one of the first forest wind farms in NRW was completed in Hilchenbach, Siegerland. The city only has windy locations on wooded hills. Nevertheless, the municipality managed at an early stage to build a wind farm supported and financed by its citizens, which saves around 21,000 tonnes of CO2 per year.

In 2002, the planning of a very special citizens' wind farm began: The City of Hilchenbach and an operating company run by one of its citizens planned the first forest wind farm in NRW – despite the fact that the legal conditions between 2005 and 2011 did not provide for forest wind power at all. But the pioneers were tough, obtained all of the necessary approvals and finally harvested the fruits of their labour in 2009: The wind farm was connected to the grid.

Engine for progress:

  • 21,000 tonnes of CO2 saved per year
  • around 300 citizens profit from leasing and wind farm revenues
  • increased footfall for hotels and restaurants
  • the wind trail explains the technology
  • involving and convincing the residents

1 of 4

Photo: Bärbel Pulte

The Hilchenbach wind farm consists of five turbines with a combined output of 10 megawatts. Through the production of wind-generated electricity, around 21,000 tonnes of CO2 are saved per year.

Hilchenbach Wind for Hilchenbach Citizens

The municipality wanted the citizens of Hilchenbach to also benefit from the Hilchenbach wind. The profits were to go to local people. Hilchenbach city administration therefore supported the planning of a farm owned by the citizens and the establishment of a local operating company. The newly founded RothaarWind GmbH & Co. KG allows the local population to participate directly in the profits. The Hilchenbach citizens enjoyed priority in the subscription of company shares. Today, 88 citizens of Hilchenbach and the surrounding region hold shares in the wind farm on their doorstep. Their income depends on the wind yield.

The forest owners also benefit from the wind farm: The area where the wind turbines are installed belongs to a forest cooperative owned by approximately 200 Hilchenbach families. They all now benefit from the lease income – around 75,000 euros per year, which is generated from the wind yield.

Gaining Support through Involvement and Communication

The intrusion on the landscape often discussed when planning wind farms was also considered by the people of Hilchenbach. But here, only a few citizens took a critical view. The reason: RothaarWind relied on the involvement of the residents. For example, a member of the operating company built the first forest wind turbine in NRW himself. The operators used the wind turbine in the neighbouring forest as a showpiece to convince the population of their plans.

RothaarWind organised tours and tower climbs for approx. 100 private individuals at the wind power plant. During the construction of the citizens' wind farm, RothaarWind would also involve residents and interested parties time and time again and explain the advantages and disadvantages to the citizens and decision makers. The company organised site visits in order to allow citizens to take part in the construction process.

Benefits for the Region, Wind Trail Provides Information on Wind Power

The wind farm has also brought benefits for local restaurants and hotels. Hundreds of information events have been held in local hotels since the construction period. For day trippers, the city and the operators have also marked out a simple forestry path as the "Wind Trail". The "Hilchenbach Wind Trail" provides information on wind power using display panels.

Video: KlimaExpo.NRW

"Just as the forests in Siegerland have been communally managed for centuries, we are also using our wind jointly at the citizens' wind farm. The wind over Hilchenbach belongs to the people of Hilchenbach."

Günter Pulte, Managing Director RothaarWind

Partners and sponsors

  • RothaarWind GmbH & Co. KG
  • Stadt Hilchenbach