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Published on September 21st, 2012 | by Zachary Shahan


German Green on Wind Energy Benefits & Nuclear Phaseout

September 21st, 2012 by  

Here’s a nice bit of a Guardian interview with Cem Özdemir, Chair of the German Green party, that was just published yesterday:

Cem Özdemir by boellstiftung

by Philip Oltermann

How would you sell the benefits of wind energy to the Brits?

That’s easy. It’s not about ecology: there are pragmatic economic reasons for taking wind energy seriously. Onshore wind energy is cheaper and faster; offshore is more expensive and takes longer to build. It’s that simple. For those who think it spoils their view of the landscape: would you rather have a nuclear power station plonked in the middle of the countryside? I find that logic strange. And of course no one in the Green party thinks you should just put windfarms anywhere – there are parts of the countryside that should be off limits.

In the past, the energy market in Germany used to be run by four big players. Since the shift to renewables that we helped to bring about, regional authorities and cities council have become empowered to act as players in their own right, buying back the networks that they sold to private companies in the past. In Germany, a large number of windfarms are regionally owned: that helps to decentralise power and encourages competition.

What do you say to critics of Germany’s nuclear phaseout, who argue that it will merely end up having to import more dirty coal energy from abroad?

We are looking at a third industrial revolution, and just as there were once those who opposed the invention of the steam engine, there are now those who hark back to nuclear energy. In Germany we now have just over 20% of our energy coming from renewable sources. All predictions from the past have turned out not to be true: when I went to school, my teachers used to say that maybe, just maybe we might have 3% of renewable energy one day. Angela Merkel says we’ll have 35% by 2020; we at the Green party say it’ll be 45%. My guess is: we’ll both be wrong, because it’ll be even more than that.

And at any rate, don’t listen to what Cem Özdemir has to say on this, don’t listen to what the Greens have to say, listen to what Siemens is doing. Siemens are not switching from nuclear to clean energy because they want to lose money: they want to make profit. And I’d warn anyone who questions whether they’ll manage: industrial policy, that’s one thing the Germans know how to get right. If the Brits would rather hand the first mover advantage down to us, then so be it – as a German, I thank them for it. We already cater for many of the markets for renewable energy around the globe, and our future competitors are more likely to come from China than from the other side of the Channel.

In Germany, industry is now starting to thank us for pestering in the past, because it forced them to go through the kind of innovations that the rest of the world is now catching up with. The Brits are still discussing whether they should insulate their houses better in the future, and we insulate them.

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About the Author

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) with the power of the word. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor, but he's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession and Solar Love. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, and Canada. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in. But he offers no professional investment advice and would rather not be responsible for you losing money, so don't jump to conclusions.

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