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Hope for a Change: Renewable Energy Part Two

Posted on Jun 18, 2013

If we want to come to a renewable energy strategy we need players who don't have a vested interest. This is the secret reason why the renewable energy act in Germany worked and why it became so successful. We created a special energy market for renewables which could not be interfered with by the conventional energy players. We created three elements. First element was a guaranteed access to the grid for each renewable energy power player even if it is a very small one. Second, we gave a guaranteed payment. With only these two elements we could overcome any interference from the power companies. The investors had the opportunity to do it without asking for permission from the conventional power players. They got investment autonomy. So they were free to make their investments. They had no vested interest in the existing energy system. And the third element was not to make a cap because only if there is no cap can their be industrial scale development, industrial investments which are long term investments. These three elements created the dynamic we have in Germany, only these.

Chris Turner

We are now seeing renewables sources become cost competitive without decades and decades of subsidies, without the kind of job incentives. I mean the coal industry gets subsidized all over the world to keep employing people in this thing we know is the engine of our potential demise. You don't get government subsidies very many places to just employ people just building wind turbines. There is really an unequal economy but even that said we are now seeing pretty big headway being made by the renewable sources. Anywhere they've done the German style feed-in tariff one of the brilliant things about it is that it is not a subsidy. It is a rate payer surcharge. So it is not your tax dollars as a German consumer that are feeding this extra cost of solar and wind. You are just paying per kilowatt hour. What that means is whoever uses more energy pays more of their share. On top of that you now have the opportunity as a German citizen to participate in producing energy for the first time, in a very long time, and that can offset some of your costs. From the consumer or average tax payers point of view it is an incredibly attractive offer. If you are a conventional energy producer with hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars invested in the infrastructure of delivering conventional fuel sources, then it is not so attractive.

Hermann Scheer

This shows fourth, four consequences that I want to say a few final words about. The first consequence is that all political institutions, politicians, governments, parliamentarians should have in their mind that it is necessary to not accept any more that the protagonists and the carriers of the present energy system should be the carriers and the protagonists for the ways to renewable energy. They can't. They can do it a little bit but they are obliged by their own business management calculations to postpone. They will never become the real driving force we need. We need independent investors. That means they should stop the behavior of being subordinated under the conventional power companies whether they are state owned or private. They must come to an emancipation from them. This is a spiritual element but they need it since only then can they develop, independent from their advice the adequate strategy.

They should overcome the limited economic view. We can explain if we take all political elements together, all economic elements together, all the economic advantages, all the avoided problems by going to renewable energy that each step to renewable energy creates a macro economic benefit for each society in which it has happened. We can show that. But the macro economic benefit is not at the same time a micro economic benefit for all producers and customers. Therefore the political art is to transform, with the right policy, like the renewable energy act, to transform the macro economic benefit into micro economic incentive, then the dynamic from and with the society starts. This is the first main recommendation.

The second is that it is necessary to overcome, even among environmental organizations, the particularized view on ecology and nature protection. This has been one challenge for wind dissemination. When people fight against wind mills for landscape protection then they also have a limited view on ecology. In the time when the glaciers melt, when the ice of the arctic melts, when the ice of the antarctic melts, when we have more and more droughts, and more and more storms, more and more caused by climate change, we can see that there is not one square meter in the world which is not endangered by the conventional energy system.

The only opportunity to overcome this is to shift to clean emission free energy like wind as a driving force for that actually. Therefore in order for the intent to protect landscape, fighting against wind mills is out of standard. It has nothing to do with ecology. We fight for the global ecology, we fight for the global protection of our environment. Therefore we must tell those that have this wrong standard that they have an environmental understanding which is, in scope, too limited.

The third element is that we should speak about 100% renewable energy. We must show that it is possible everywhere. It has been done by many studies. It is necessary to explain that nothing can be implemented faster than renewable energy. We have short installation times. We have long construction times for conventional power stations. Therefore the argument is nonsense that we would need time. If we are in a race against time we have the best opportunity to do it with a decentralized renewable energy system. Why 100% renewable energy? Only then the justification is over for investors, for conventional energy players, or governments, that we would need a new coal power stations or new nuclear power stations. The justifications is always that renewable energies are not enough but they are enough. So it is necessary to show 100% opportunity and that it can be done faster.

100 square miles of solar power can provide all the electricity required by the United States. Solar panels on 10% of buildings in the cities could provide all the electricity required.

Look to Canada, that is my final remark, look to Canada, or look to Ontario, I got the numbers in the morning. Roughly 30,000 megawatt electric power production capacity. 10,000 is hydro already. That means you need 20,000 megawatt for replacing coal and nuclear in a province which is three times larger than Germany. Germany has 350,000 square kilometers and 85 million people. We are highly industrialized. We are export champions for industrial goods around the world. We could with a small area introduce nearly 25,000 megawatts of wind power capacities in roughly the last ten to twenty years. That means it is easy to show if you take the most modern wind mills with a higher individual capacity, it is possible to show, for Ontario that within five years, you could substitute 20,000 megawatts nuclear and coal, and combined with the existing hydro power, nothing is better technologically, complementary, than hydro power from dams with wind because then you have solved all reserve problems if there is sometimes not enough wind. Then you take one turbine more and you have it. With such a background of one third large hydro power and dams it is totally easy to come to 100% solution by wind power investments within five years. Where is the problem? The problem is in the minds. It is not a technological problem, it is not an economic problem, the problem is only in the mind. Problems and barriers in the mind, we can all overcome this very fast because it is just a matter of getting the information, getting the recog