Green economy educator, spokesperson, and Ottawa councilman David Chernushenko takes his family and the viewer of Powerful: Energy for Everyone on a journey in this inspiring documentary. The documentary is styled as a lovely collection of vignettes on renewable systems. It examines exchanges with green pioneers, entrepreneurs, scientists, artists, eco-activists, investors, politicians, and more. Chernushenko’s film, made by Quiet Revolution Pictures as a Living Lightly Production, reveals the interworkings of the “quiet revolution.” Starting with the essential question, he explores why the commonsense energy solutions are ones that have been so continually thought of as eccentric.
Renewable energy solutions were missing in his hometown of Ottawa. However, when he made the video, they were normal many places. Visiting destinations that live lightly, Chernushenko travels to Europe in the film. Considered eccentric by his neighbors in Canada with his solar panels bolted above his doorstep, he visits others who also engender a sustainable future. Chernushenko’s solar-paneled house is what should be, could be, and what is in destinations he explores.
Europe has areas that are already 100% powered by renewable energy. The film shares news and explains about Germany’s feed-in tariff and insights of Germany’s transition. To his friends at CleanTechnica, his work is intelligent, an actively motivated, positively educational, and inspired journey — pointing out that he believes responsiveness to change is what helps societies survive. Chernushenko explores what helps communities thrive as well.
Documenting his journey through Europe on film, he seeks answers, solutions that activate a renewable standard. All of his European travels — through greener countries, islands, and cities — reflect a renewable revolution and excellent urban planning as a modern-day reality.
From wind turbines along the Danish coast to Copenhagen’s transit, where the population is 1.15 million and bicycles count 2.5. million, David describes this as a quiet revolution. Quiet but confident, 40% of Copenhagen commutes regularly by bicycle. On to Aastiderne, Denmark, where Annett Hartivig Larsen shares the most essential of energy solutions — food solutions.
Next, my favorite, is the generous and productive farmer on the renewable energy island of Samsø. The island is a self-made miracle. The Samsø farmer squeezes yellow flowers to get oil for his car and tractor, somewhat of an energy specialist as well as a farmer. He invests in renewables — “because one has to.” The farmer relies on the Samsø Energy Academy for all his questions on energy solutions. It is an invaluable resource of information. Just phone the academy up, and you can chat with Denmark’s pioneers at Samsø Energy Academy. This Danish island as a whole is home to 4,000.
This film will pick up any clean air, water, and energy lover’s afternoon with continual sequences of clean energy solutions. Chernushenko asks, with these options being around for so long, why are these choices considered eccentric until now, and even now in some corners?
Chernusehenko and family stop many places on his way through Europe: Germany, Denmark, Sweden. His children choose to visit Rome and Venice. Thus, they examine sustainable developments in those cities. His daughter wants to visit Venice for the art and canals, then finds she loves most the absence of cars.
Thinking back to home, why in a country like Canada, with tremendous renewable resources, has the discourse been so slow to take hold? David points out that Canada falls far short of its potential. As a global citizen, he has tried to make smarter choices with food, water, waste, and energy. Germany and Denmark have so much less sunshine than Canada, yet there are many farmers using solar panels amidst their farms to increase income — promoting local, decentralized, renewable energy.
A lovely piece of the film is renewable energy champion Herman Scheer speaking. As a German member of Parliament, he was a driving force responsible for increasing renewable energy change in Germany and worldwide.
“We should speak about 100 percent renewable energy. If we have a race against time, we have the best opportunity to do it with decentralized renewable energy systems. But why a 100 percent? Because only then the justification is over.” (“That we would need another a new coal power station or a new nuclear power plant.”)
What a sweet, strong man Scheer was, and he pointed out that renewables make the world “not only clean but safe.”
Paul Gipe of Wind-Works.org pops in time and again throughout the film reminding us at that “it has never been a question of the technology. It has always been a question of do we really want renewable energy.” He states that it is also a matter of will, the people’s will. The bright and animated Gipe continues to punctuate his passion for renewables in the film.”Don’t tell me that it can’t be done, because I’ve been to Denmark, I’ve been to Germany, I’ve been to Spain, I’ve been to France….”
And what about a bit of pragmatic whimsy with a pedal-powered concert? Johan Hultqvist, lead singer for Mr. Something Something, explains that, thanks to the idea of his band’s drummer, the film shares a concert powered by bicycles. Later Hultqvist reveals his love of freedom and bicycles. “I have some of my happiest moments riding my bike down the street. I feel free, I am truly free, and I am propelling myself forward.”
The film interviews and discusses the logistics of supporting the flux of renewable energy, storing energy, and baseload energy — past and future. And jobs. Whenever human industries and societies change structures, people get thrown out of work. The film promotes that the green industry wants everyone to have opportunity with a career in green energy and shares more on this subject.
Turning inspiration into action, David comes back to Canada and travels to California and a few other states with another green travel companion, a Canadian Olympian who owns a car that drinks biodiesel. Learning as he travels, they go on to visit a biodiesel warehouse run by two young women. The film is a day’s journey in living lightly. Chernushenko essentially asks, “How can we as global citizens make sure that everyone has access to the energy they need?” And many answer that question throughout the documentary.
Louis Helbig, an aerial photographer from Ottawa, Canada, also shares his disturbing and poignant photographs, hoping people in Canada will put a picture to the horror of the Tar Sands. He believes the industry and government do not want to talk about it, and they do themselves and society a disservice.
The Film’s Chapters:
1. Opening, 2 David’s Energy Dream, 3. Smarter Cities, 4.The Fall of Rome, 5. Fewer Cars, 6. Resisting Nuclear, 7. Renewable Freiamt, 8. Stockholm, 9. Sweden, 10. Linkoping Waste-to-Energy, 11. Malmø — New and Old, 12. Denmark, Getting off Oil, 13. Copenhagen Bicycles, 14 Arstiderne, Local Food, 15 Samso, Renewable Island, 16. Energy Choices For Ontario, 17. Wolfe Island’s Wind Project, 18. Power Players and Politics, 19. California Dreaming, 20. Biofuel Oasis, 21. Green Jobs for All- Solar Richmond, 22. Real Goods — Solar Living, 23. Eco-Sensitive Living, 24. Power Politics Revisited, 25. Power by the People, For People, 26.Working Together, 27. Ontario’s Green Energy Act, 28. David’s Energy Choices, 29. Credits and Epilogue
From the start of the film: “My wife and I decided to make a statement even though we were on the grid,” Cherusehenko explains. We wished to be inter-tied and share our renewable energy. Instead, we still paid for the nuclear energy department even though we did not use it. In 2003, a massive power outage on the grid cut out power for 50 million people. We still had energy in our batteries. Failure of the grid should have been a wake-up call. 1999 brought talks of inter-tied solar with the grid. It still had not taken place by 2008.” By the end of the film, Chernushenko and his family finally find real changes politically in Canada.
A sweet sequence at the end of the film brings the viewer up to date on changes to each vignette, what has unfolded since the filming.
Spend the afternoon or evening watching the film.
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Image Credits: GDS Infographics (CC BY); Armin Kübelbeck (CC BY 3.0); London Permaculture (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
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