VideKIS – the research project focused on challenges of the future. The research project investigates the extent to which primary control power can be provided via a virtual power plant comprised of small-scale plants and micro-plants, both of which are decentralised, using renewable energies. Due to the high degree of complexity and the different facets of the research project, a consortium of the following partners was formed: adesso SE, Urban Energy GmbH, H S Hard- & Software Technologie GmbH & Co KG, TU Dortmund – Institute for Energy Systems, Energy Efficiency and Energy Economics and Mainzer Stadtwerke AG.

As previously mentioned, the research project examines renewable energies. Mainzer Stadtwerke’s hydropower plants in particular play a decisive role in the research project. And so last year, this led us as a consortium to being able to visit these hydropower plants. Mainzer Stadtwerke is involved with a total of 12 hydroelectric power plants. We visited the run-of-the-river power plant in Bestwig, Germany. This plant has a special feature: after modernisation, one part of the building was empty and was quickly leased to Natur-Ranger e.V.

Who are the nature rangers?

Natur-Ranger e.V. – NaRa for short – is a voluntary organisation committed to environmental protection and education. The nature rangers began in the Sauerland region in 1997 when a group of environmental caretakers decided to continue the work of the WWF’s Panda Club and found their own association. The association was later renamed Sielmanns Natur-Ranger e.V. and worked closely with the Heinz Sielmann Foundation. In 2013, the association was renamed Natur-Ranger e.V. and became independent of the Heinz Sielmann Foundation.

NaRa aims to get people excited about environmental protection and to teach them their own skills for taking action. To do this, the nature ranger groups take independent action for the environment in their home region under the motto ‘discover and experience diversity’ and organise joint nature adventures. The association also funds innovative initiatives and small-scale projects and aims to be a reliable network and a sustainable partner for the environment as well for simple voluntary environmental conservation work. Natur-Ranger e.V. is a cross-generational association for all people, regardless of age, size or handicap.

All across Germany, rangers are committed to plant and species conservation in nature reserves, national parks and nature parks – often for communities and foundations. Their tasks include looking after visitors, for example, as part of excursions, guided tours, project days or educational programmes, educational and public relations work as well as maintenance and repair work. They also often carry out scientific investigations and field observations and assist the police, fire brigades and public authorities in complying with conservation regulations.

In Bestwig, NaRa uses the grounds of the hydropower plant to teach children and young people in particular more about the environment and environmental conservation in a variety of different ways, putting a particular emphasis on renewable energies.

What do nature rangers do in a hydropower plant?

NaRa has made the grounds of the hydropower plant in Bestwig its home since 2019. The grounds were continuously upgraded thanks to the copious support of Mainzer Stadtwerke: the green facade decorated with nature motifs by graffiti artist Leif Eric Möller is one of their contributions. It gives the building recognition value and emphasises the ranger’s motivation – nature itself. All these factors make the grounds the ‘LUZ’ – Natur-Ranger e.V.’s Lokale Umwelt Zentrum (local environmental centre).

The run-of-the-river power plant building converted for NaRa

The heart of the power plant: two large turbines

NaRa now has around 500 members and attracts numerous visitors and interested persons, all of whom take part in nature experiences for all ages together in Bestwig. From tours of the hydropower plant, hikes into the surrounding countryside and information events all the way to bat safaris or overnight stays in tepees, there is a wide range of offerings to learn more about the indigenous nature and how to protect it. NaRa works together with local day-care centres to give even the youngest rangers the opportunity to learn all kinds of things, for instance, how to plant their own fruits and vegetables or how to identify different species of trees and plants. Starting as early as primary school, children are taught about more complex interrelationships such as how to protect wetlands or crayfish in streams and ponds. Renewable energies and the restoration of the Ruhr are also topics that are dealt with in detail and in a way that makes them accessible to everyone at NaRa.

The result of Natur-Ranger’s work constitutes an important success, as they get tons of people, from young to old, excited for their environment through their educational offerings and thereby ensure a better environment and a better future, both in Bestwig and throughout all of Germany.

You will find more exciting topics from the adesso world in our latest blog posts.

Picture Ellen Szczepaniak

Author Ellen Szczepaniak

Ellen Szczepaniak is an experienced project manager specialising in consulting for companies in the energy industry. In her projects, she has gained experience both as a requirements engineer and scrum master in an agile environment and as an interaction room coach and management consultant in traditional projects. She is characterised in particular by her structured and analytical approach as well as her expertise in the context of the energy industry and electromobility.

Picture Simon Bächle

Author Simon Bächle

Simon Bächle is writing his master's thesis in the VideKIS research project. He is investigating the economic operation of virtual power plants with the help of a mathematical optimization model. He is also working intensively on the application of data science in the energy industry.

Picture Zoe Holdt

Author Zoe Holdt

Zoe Holdt is a consultant for the Line of Business Utilities at adesso and supports both agile and traditional projects in the energy industry. In addition to the project business, she continues to drive forward the development of the hydrogen focus at adesso.

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