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What's a 'Renewable'?

Do you know what "renewables" are? When it comes to energy, it means saving our rainforests, reducing global warming...and emptying our refuse dumps. But how? The Kyoto Accords are a realtively new set of guidelines to reduce pollution globally. The USA is the only major nation that did not sign them. Hmmm. That might be worth checking into. But other countries are working hard to comply with these global guidelines, and "renewable energy" is at the forefront of their research and applicaiton efforts. Here is what one country is doing.

Germany Launches Its Transition To All Renewables

Can renewable energy development keep pace with rising global energy demand? As world governments struggle with this question, Germany is advancing with resolve in a transition to 100% renewable energy. The German government accepts the goal is technically and economically feasible, and has adopted a long-term national policy for the transition. After years of reliance on nuclear energy - which supplies 30% of the nation's electricity - Germany has concluded that nuclear is a dead-end and has established long term plans to phase it out.

Germany's most urgent conclusion is that the period lasting until about 2020 comprises "make-or-break" years for the renewable energy transition. It is this conviction that has driven German policy makers to introduce the world's most aggressive support for renewables, to stick with it during the past decade and to guarantee that support for the next 20-30 years.

Wind Power

The first renewable energy source to receive serious government attention in Germany was wind. Their utilities were required to hook up and purchase energy from all renewable energy providers in their areas, and to pay at least 90% of the retail price for the electricity purchased from them.

Germany's accomplishments since 1990 have been astonishing. By the end of September, Germany had 15,688 MW of wind installations, delivering 6.2% of the country's electrical energy. It was the world leader in total installations, as well as in the annual rate of installations. Germany has about 125% more installed wind energy capacity than either the U.S. or Spain, which are virtually tied for second.

Solar Power

Photovoltaics (PV): Germany's accomplishments in the development of solar energy for both electricity and water heating are as dramatic as those for wind, despite starting somewhat later.

Solar Thermal Water Heating: Germany also leads Europe in total and annual installations of solar thermal collectors for water heating.

Several factors were vital to the rapid rise of Germany's renewable energy industries:

  • Enlightened policians.
  • Scientific analysis
  • Energy-efficiency policies by government bodies
  • Government's ethical commitment to the future and the world
  • Government's long-term commitment.

    Their goal is to realize 45% renewable energy by 2050. This will increase jobs in the alternative energy sector, as well as impact quality of life, availability of new sources for energy as oil and gas reserves begin to decline, and could propel Germany into a leadership position in the global renewable energy economy.

    SOURCE: Published on 31 Mar 2005 by Solar Today Magazine. Archived on 31 Mar 2005.

    For more articles about NATURE EXPLORATION

    Leaves of 3 Leave them be
    Think Global - Act Local!
    Certify Your Backyard Wildlife Habitat
    Last Child in the Woods: Saving our children from nature-deficit disorder
    Favorite Quotes about Nature
    Bio-Diesel solving energy shortages