The Beam interview series, edition 12: Craig Morris
To lighten up your week and give you even more energizing thoughts, we publish interviews from our partner The Beam twice a week.
The Beam takes a modern perspective at the energy transition, interviewing inspirational people from around the world who shape our sustainable energy future.
This week, Anne-Sophie Garrigou, journalist at The Beam, interviewed Craig Morris, a journalist specializing on energy technologies and policies. Craig works on various projects with the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and has also recently released a book on Germany’s energy transition, Energy Democracy, released in September 2016.
The Beam: What makes Germany so special in term of renewable energy?
Craig Morris: What makes Germany’s shift unique is that they started up as a grassroots movement, like in Denmark. The Germans copied the idea from the Danes. Our book, Energy Democracy, looks at the shift from a societal point of view. This is the German government giving the people what they want even when it hurts the incumbent industries that influence politics. The book investigates why and suggests that such things can only happen in a healthy democracy.
Can you introduce us to the REMap, from IRENA?
IRENA’s Roadmap for a Renewable Energy Future — REmap — determines the realistic potential for countries, regions, and the world to scale up renewables in order to ensure an affordable and sustainable energy future. IRENA builds its study on the “Reference Case” which is the only collection of governmental policies worldwide investigating technologies and markets. Thanks to the Reference Case, IRENA shows the gap between countries and the path to follow in order to fill this gap. The study shows what steps governments can take to reach 100% renewables. Today, even the most skeptical countries’ energy ministers engage with IRENA when they might not even take the Greenpeace studies seriously.
Which countries are doing the most efforts in term of renewable energy policies?
If we talk about electricity for the moment (as opposed to energy) Costa Rica, Norway, and Iceland are almost 100% renewable already thanks to hydro and/or geothermal. You can’t compare with other countries. If the French government says ‘Norway is 100%, let’s copy Norway: be a small population on a bunch of fjords’, it will not work. You can’t copy Norway. ‘OK, let’s copy Iceland then. Everybody sits on a volcano.’ That doesn’t work either. These are not policy recommendations.
The interesting question is not which country is the best now in term of renewables, it’s how can we move forward, and there are lessons to learn from Germany here. Germany is a super interesting example. They are doing it with wind and solar, which every country has at a significant level. In fact, Germany has a bad potential for both. So today, Germany is doing something that is more easily replicable everywhere.
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