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Activities in Hövelhof – Visiting a wind farm & meeting the ocean ambassador & extreme swimmer André Wiersig

The Erasmus students spent one morning at the Egge – Gebirge to explore the large windpark near the small village of Lichtenau. This is the third largest windpark in Germany with more than 530 windmills. First of all the two guides took their groups to a place in front of the mills to explain about the meaning of the different colours of the tower, the size of the windpark and when and under which conditions the mills work. They are as high as 220 meters and the electricity is generated by the so called gondola on top of the tower. The guide also told the students why this place was especially convenient for building windmills as there are the strongest onshore winds in Germany on top of these hills. Because windmills are a threat for birds the group was explained which measures the company has already taken to protect endangered species. Every mill is equipped with a 360 degrees camera which monitors the area and if a bird is approaching the rotors of the mill are stopped for three minutes.

A very astonishing fact was that this windpark generates enough electricity to supply the whole Paderborn area and even some more. 

When the students entered the inside of the mill everyone was surprised by the noise inside which was really loud as the windmill was working at its maximum capacity while also heating up the inside to a nicely warm temperature ( quite a contrast to the outside gales). The height of the tower impressed the whole group as well as the elevator that transports the work equipment for the craftsmen to the top of the tower and on the way upwards the elevator needs nine minutes. The workers themselves have to climb a ladder for a distance of 120 metres. Security measures are basically the same as when climbing a steep mountain. Moreover the guide made the basics of producing electricity clear and showed a display panel where one could see how much electricity was being produced at that moment. After leaving the inside of the mill the students asked questions like how much a mill costs ( about 6-7 million euros) or how much money the farmers get for renting out their land to the windmill company. 

Time went by quickly and students were still discussing the possibilities of producing green energy and jobs in this area on their way back to school. (G. Merz & U. Rappel)

Meeting the mayor of Hövelhof and ocean ambassador André Wiersig

Andre Wiersig is an extreme long distance swimmer and one of the few people to have completed the swim of the seven most iconic straits in the world (the so-called “Ocean’s seven”). He is also from nearby Paderborn, so he could make it to Franz-Stock-Realschule to speak to us about his life and achievements. We were also honoured to have the mayor of Hövelhof, Mr. Michael Berens, a former student at the school himself, tell us about the town and introduce our guest speaker.

Michael Berens, the mayor of Hövelhof, welcoming the ERASMUS-students

As Andre said, being from inland Germany and having swum all around the world is proof that you can do anything if you are determined enough. He also emphasized that what he is most proud of are not his superhuman swims, but the fact of being a happy and successful family man, and that family and friends you can rely on are the most important things in life.

André Wiersig, ocean ambassador and founder of the “Blue Heart” project

He has faced all sorts of dangers in his swims, from sharks and jellyfish to deadly cold temperatures, and has learnt that you have to consider the ocean as a welcoming friend more than an enemy you have to fight. In order to make it, you must leave your expectations on shore and go with the flow. (J. Canal)

André Wiersig, the man of the ocean, explaining his Blue Heart project