Friday, 3 September 2010

Renewable energy programmes in Germany

Humans have wonderful capabilities and the technology of today is increasingly capable of extraordinary feats.  It should therefore be surprising that we continue to be dependent on energy production from hazardous sources such as oil, coal and nuclear fission. 

German renewable energy advocate and member of parliament, Hermann Sheer, declares it to be unnecessary.  He says flatly that moving to renewable sources " only a question of political will, nothing else". 

This ten minute Earth Report from 2009 gives more detail:

Largely due to his campaigning, the German government in 1999 passed the Renewable Energy Act, legislation which has since been copied by roughly thirty countries.  It requires the big energy distribution companies to buy electricity from those producing it from renewable sources, and at a price that is fixed for twenty years.  Furthermore, producers of such energy are guaranteed access to the national grid.  This has made it possible for groups of investors to get bank loans to set up schemes which benefit them directly and reduces dependence on the national grid.  

Many Germans have grasped the option with both hands.  Residents of the village of Juhnde, are one such group and are now completely independent of the national grid and happy to on-sell their surplus.  You can see a Discover Magazine article about them here

Germany now leads the world in renewable energy technology and evenso is unable to meet demand for their products.  It's a sizeable growth industry.

In this YouTube clip of "The Sustainable Star - Germany" (2006) there is a longer commentary on the situation in Germany as a whole.  It's not all roses: the item begins with footage of massive open cast mining of lignite which is swallowing whole villages, the residents of which have no choice but to pack up and leave.

I'm impressed by the impact that can be made by those such as Hermann Sheer, those who have sufficient conviction to campaign and make such far reaching change possible.  In the footage indicated above he says: "It was a surprise to me as a young politician in the 1980s that no politician, not in my country, not in other countries, was really committed.  If that issue is so important then I should do that.  It was a question of personal responsibility."

We all have different capabilities and can contribute in different ways.  It's the taking of personal responsibility that is of greatest importance.

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