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Tocco - A miniature Smart City
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Tocco - A miniature Smart City

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Across the globe offshore wind farms are gaining momentum as countries on the continent make a serious investment in renewable technology. According to the EIC Monitor, the number of new projects in the renewables sector has risen by 200 percent in value, quarter on quarter during the first three months of 2010.

Tocco is the name of a village and comune in the province of Benevento, in the Campania region of southern Italy. The old town was abandoned after a series of earthquakes in 1980 and 1981. Rather than rebuild the historic town, the citizens were forced to completely abandon it and resettle around the ridge. Today there are essentially two Tocco Caudios: an empty old town and a new town above it in a location called Friuni.

Although its cobbled streets and well maintained church may not look like a renewable hot bed, looks, in this instance, can be deceiving. The four wind turbines generated $200,000 alone last year, which meant Tocco could scrap local taxes and garbage pickup fees, as well as triple its budget on street cleaners.

The savings are a welcome sight for Tocco residents, as Italy - and much of Europe - fights against rising electricity and power prices. Italy itself doesn't have any fossil fuels to rely on, which means energy prices are only set to increase further. Local residents of Tocco are taking this further: the local cemetery office is lit by solar panels - a saving of $2,000 a year.

"Normally when you think about energy you think about big plants, but here what's interesting is that local municipalities have been very active," said Edoardo Zanchini, in charge of Legambiente's energy division. "That this can happen in a place like Italy is really impressive."

Tocco is very different to the oft-criticized country it calls home; Italy has been repeatedly criticized by the European Union for failing to follow the bloc's environmental directives. In fact, only seven percent of the country's renewables come from renewable sources.

Included within this, is a announced US$150 billion UK Round 3 Offshore Wind project. This project comes about as the UK hits the 1 GW milestone of installed offshore wind turbine power generation, with 336 installed turbines distributed across 11 wind farms in UK waters. The UK currently has over 40 GW of offshore wind projects at various stages of development, which are expected to be installed by 2020.

Germany has also taken to offshore wind farms, and is planning to build one in the North Sea called Alpha Ventus, with the desired result being 12 MWs of electricity. The German Environment Minister is quoted as saying they aim to produce 25 GW in offshore wind energy by 2030. This adds to Germany’s currently installed land based wind farm capacity of nearly 26 GW.

The French Environment Minister, Jean-Louis Borloo, has announced French plans for the construction of offshore offshore wind farms on 11 proposed sites.

And it isn't just France, Germany and Britain that are getting serious about upping the current renewable power outlay. Sweden, Holland and Norway are also keen to pursue cleaner modes of transport with offshore wind farms.











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