„Decentralised transformation of the energy industry is the solution to the biggest problem of humanity – and it is doable”
– Dorothea Sick-Thies, founder of Protect the Planet –
100 percent renewables is a realistic prospect
It is doable – the experts at Fraunhofer Institute, Leibniz University Hanover, Solarworld, Enercon and Siemens are all agreed that a 100 percent renewable power supply for Germany is no longer wishful thinking or merely a pipe dream. The research project Kombikraftwerk 2 proves that a clean and reliable power supply produced solely from renewable sources is possible even now. We just need the courage to make it happen.
Yes We Can
Over the past three years, some well-known partners from industry and commerce have been investigating the feasibility of a power supply based entirely on renewables, with support from the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety. The project leader, Kaspar Knorr of the Fraunhofer Institute for Wind Power and Energy System Technology (IWES), is quite clear about the findings of this research: “Our investigations show that the current quality of supply is also achievable with an intelligent combination of renewables, storage devices and back-up power plants fired by renewable gas.” Further information about the Kombikraft (“Combi-power”) project is available here:
Step by step
Nor is there any technical hurdle to achieving the 100 percent goal. Instead it is a political, social and personal issue. Each and every individual can do their bit, by switching to green power, upgrading their home energy system, investing in wind and solar power initiatives and above all, by responsible use of resources in their everyday lives. Take the first step today!
Other countries are pointing the way
While the transformation of the energy industry in Germany has been a stop-start affair, countries all around the globe are showing us that 100 percent renewables is a realistic goal, with Norway, Iceland, Uruguay and Costa Rica using their natural resources of water, wind, sun, biomass and geothermal power much more intelligently and, above all, consistently than we do. All of these nations generate 95 to 100 percent of their electricity from renewables. New Zealand is close behind on 80 percent and the trend there is rising. Norway covers 99 percent of its power needs with hydropower – while Iceland derives 100 percent of its requirements from geothermal and hydropower. In Uruguay almost 95 percent of all electricity generated comes from a mix of wind power, solar, hydropower and biomass. And Costa Rica manages to produce one hundred percent of its electricity demand from renewables. Heavy rainfall there ensures dams are always full of water, so hydropower alone makes up two thirds of their energy production. One positive impact for consumers is that electricity prices there have fallen by 12 percent and the positive spin-off for climate change is 100 percent fewer CO2 emissions.
What is happening in Germany?
Unfortunately Germany is still far from achieving 100 percent renewables. The status quo is as follows. In the year 2015 only 30 percent of electricity in Germany was produced from renewables. Lignite and hard coal together made up over 42 percent, nuclear power 14 percent and gas nearly 9 percent. Almost three quarters of German electricity production is still derived from finite and environmentally damaging fossil fuels. What makes the matter worse is that the countries of origin of our imported gas, coal and oil are not exactly known for their stand on democracy, human rights and environmental protection.
A good mix is the key
For successful transformation of the energy industry, we need a balanced mix of all available renewables and intelligent grids. The integration of power storage devices is almost as important as the process of clean energy generation. Smart homes and electric mobility currently support the positive trend towards energy-efficient solutions.Click to enlarge
Models of sustainability
There are numerous flagship projects in Germany that act as beacons or best-practice models. The energy-plus houses of a solar housing estate in Freiburg are one such example. They produce more energy than the residents actually need and thus exceed every current standard. Or the railway city in Heidelberg, where a former railway shunting yard has been turned into a zero-emission housing estate. Some entire regions in Germany can even call themselves climate-neutral now, like the Wilpoldsried energy village. Local communities play an important role in driving the transformation of the energy industry. An overview of so-called energy communities in Germany is available here.
Citizens for change
Worldwide transformation of the energy industry is a battle to preserve the blue planet. But there is still massive opposition from the nuclear power, coal and oil cartels and their lobbyists – despite the fact that 93 percent of all Germans support further expansion of renewables.
So, as ordinary citizens, we have to convince the politicians. But how on earth do we do this? Well, one option you hold firmly in your own hands is the pen you wield in the ballot box.
The benefits speak very clearly for an autonomous, decentralised and renewable power supply. It will be climate-neutral, prevent black-outs and have a positive impact on our own economy – and those expensive energy sources we currently import are already in decline. What’s more, the transformation of the energy industry will create new jobs and safeguard the future of the next generation.