Friday, September 03, 2004

Germany Leads the Way: Using Energy Tariffs to Increase Alternative Energy Use

This article asserts that no country has made a more profound and consistent commitment to rewewable energy as the world's third largest industrial economy - Germany.

Germany's Renewable Energy Sources Act gives generators of renewable electricity (which includes individual households) the right to sell excess energy back to the grid. It also specifies the specific rates to be paid for different alternative energy resources.

Since 1991 when their program was launched, the Germans have installed more than 14 gigawatts of wind-generating capacity, more than twice the amount constructed in all of North America. In 2003 Germany installed more than 20,000 solar-electric systems. This year they expect that number to increase by another 50 percent.

The article argues that these tariffs have made Germany into one of the world's leading manufacturers of alternative energy generating equipment creating tens of thousands of jobs.

Spain and France have also adopted the use of energy tariffs to promote renewables. Spain already produces 10% of its electricity from wind power and aims to triple this by 2010. France has 14 gigawatts of applications for permits on its books.

Currently there are eleven countries in the world using renewable energy tariffs and China is said to be actively considering them.

The article's author, Paul Gipe, calls on more countries to adopt them so they can experience the benefits of significant growth in the use of renewables.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hate to throw a wet blanket on a portion of your report, but I feel compelled.

Solar power plants using Photovoltaic cells are net energy consumers, unless located in lower lattitude locations than Germany.

The reasons for this are threefold:
1. Solar PV modules are incredibly energy-intensive to produce, that's why they are so expensive.
2. Unless operated in near-equatorial regions of the earth which also have low numbers of cloudy days, the cells will be forever operating at lowered output, making the "energy breakeven" point unattainable.
3. Solar PV modules degrade upon exposure to sunlight and the elements (rain, humidity, temperature cycling at day/night). Which means there is a limited effective lifespan of the modules in which to hit the breakeven point.

So, those German modules traded up front energy costs to produce electricity which they will never be able to overcome. This is a huge waste of both money and energy. Remember, the energy used in production of the PV modules and supporting infrastructure is consumed UP FRONT, before energy production begins. If the module never hits breakeven, then vast sums of energy will be consumed earlier than if the equivalent energy was produced as needed by consuming petroleum or coal.

J Pickens


note: posted by James (altenergyblog) - this comment originally appeared on:

but is equally relevant here

5:24 am, September 15, 2004  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry J. Pickens but your pessimistic attitude is why the US is lagging so far behind!

Thank goodness Thomas Edison never viewed his work as failures but 10,000 ways it didn't work, whereby, he FINALLY found the one that did!

At least Germany is doing SOMETHING about it! So what if it turns out to be a failure --- all that means is they'll find BETTER methods instead of throwing in the towel like you're suggesting.

5:41 am, June 28, 2008  

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