Share the gift of wisdom, hope and power. This documentary explains how people like you and communities using renewable energy provide hope that we will achieve a sustainable future. Renewable energy sets the stage for a world where political and social autonomy is possible, energy crises are history, climate change is halted, and oil/nuclear war can be averted. See how it's possible to live an ethical existence today while providing hope for a better future for our children.
Featured in this timely documentary are award-winning scientist and world-renowned environmentalist Dr. David Suzuki, Chris Turner author of the Geography of Hope, which is on the "Globe 100" list of the best books of the year, and Right Livelihood (the alternative Nobel prize) award-winner Dr. Hermann Scheer, the architect of the German Renewable Energy Act.
More Information on the Web
Hope for a Change web site.
This is a transcript of the documentary video Hope for a Change: Renewable Energy produced by John Wilson. To watch the entire documentary visit the Green Unplugged film festival online here. There is a ten minute summary of the "essentials" video at the end of this publication.
Before I begin I'd just like to acknowledge that this is first nations territory that we are in and I thank the first nations for taking care of this land for all those thousands of years.
You know it is hard to recognize when something historic is happening. When Ferdinand was assassinated nobody said oh gee this is the beginning of World War I. But you all know I think that you are a part of a great turning, a fundamental shift in the way that we live on this planet. Part of what is driving it is rising oil prices and peak oil, part of it is our health which is being impacted by pollution, and part of it is a new environmental understanding.
Our Mr. Sun, Frank Capra Productions (1956)
Energy. This ladies parasol has one and one half horse power of sunshine continually poured on it. Enough to run her washing machine, sewing machine, refrigerator, and vacuum cleaner. In full sunlight our family car receives almost enough sun power to run it if we only knew how to use solar energy directly. At the common rate of two cents per kilowatt hour the sun sends the earth one billion dollars worth of energy every second and it's coming to us free. Five minutes worth would pay our national debt. And yet what the earth receives is only a minute fraction of the whole. Only one part in two billion of the total solar energy, the rest of the 500,000 billion billion horse power goes out into space
Today we confront an ecological crisis far beyond Pearl Harbour or Sputnik and we have to respond appropriately. What Sputnik showed was that once a challenge is met totally unexpected opportunities and discoveries will come along and confront us. That is what we've got to do is make that commitment to meeting this major challenge.
The root cause, I believe, of our problem is the way that we look at the world, our perception of our place on the planet. In the late nineteen eighties the British Columbia government gave Fletcher Challenge, a logging company with headquarters in New Zealand, the right to log a valley called the Stein Valley. The Lillooet Natives and the Lytton Indian Band decided this was their sacred ground. They did not want logging and they asked me to join with them in fighting against logging of their valley. On one occasion I flew in a helicopter with Chief Ruby Dunstan up the Stein Valley. As she looked down she pointed out the sacred burial sites of her people, she pointed out where a great battle had been made with the Lillooet people a hundred and fifty years ago, she pointed out the spawning bed of the salmon and where they picked berries in the spring. When we landed, the helicopter pilot got out and he said last week I took some politicians and company executives up this same valley and all they talked about was cubic meters of wood, jobs and profit. Two groups of people looking down on the same valley and seeing fundamentally different things.
I went to Peru with the anthropologist Wade Davis a few years ago. He took me to a village on the side of a mountain where the children are taught that that mountain is an Apu. Apu means God. They believe that as long as that Apu casts it's shadow on their village it will determine their entire fate. Think how those children treat that mountain believing it's an Apu compared to children in Trail British Columbia who are taught all their life, those mountains are filled with gold. We treat the world the way that we see the world. Is a forest a sacred grove or is it just timber and pulp? Is a river the veins of the land or the potential for irrigation and energy? Is a species our biological relative or simply a resource? Is the ground, the soil, a community of organisms or just dirt. The way we see the world shapes the way we treat it.
"If you do not change direction you may end up where you are heading." - Lao Tzu
But what we can do is approach nature with greater humility. Nature has existed for four billion years. During that time nature has had to deal with the same problems we have. Where do you get your food? How do you reproduce? How do you keep from being eaten? What do you do when you get sick? What do you do with your waste? Maybe if we looked to nature for how nature has solved these problems we'd have a better chance of not screwing up the works with our powerful technology.
Our Mr. Sun, Frank Capra Productions (1956)
Our food is grown by a natural process called photosynthesis which means putting together with light, your light, the oldest biggest and most important manufacturing operation in the world. 99% of all our food and fuel is created by photosynthesis, a process that goes on only in plants, never in animals. On every green leaf there are millions of sub-microscopic little one man factories turning out more sugar than all the ships and railroads in the world can carry. The head man of each factory is a little green molecule called chlorophyll, the only engineer with the knowhow about this little secret life process. Chlorophyll is so small and so secretive that not even the most powerful microscopes can spy on him.
Janine Benyus calls this biomimicry. Maybe that ought to suffuse the way that we do things. I believe that wind power and renewable energy is a part of that whole process of biomimicry.
Our Mr. Sun, Frank Capra Productions (1956)
There is exciting research going on with some brand new ways. You think Mr. Chlorophyll was pretty smart with his tricky sunshine cake that makes food out of your sunlight? Well the science boys have come up with a sunshine cake that makes electricity out of your sunlight. You mean the solar battery? Yes. That is hardly even a cookie let alone a cake.
The solar battery when held in the sun, this thin little cell, a sunshine wafer you might call it, produces a usable amount of electric current out of the sunlight that falls on it. You know all though this is quite expensive at the moment the simplicity of this sunshine wafer is startling. To make this wafer all you need is sand and sunshine.
The brain did something absolutely unique, it invented an idea called the future. The future doesn't exist. The only thing that exists is now and what we can remember from the past. But because we invented the idea of a future we are the only animal that realized we can affect the future by what we do today. If we look ahead we can see where the dangers lie, we can see where the opportunities are, and we can deliberately choose today to avoid the dangers and exploit the opportunities. Foresight, I believe, was the great breakthrough of our species that gave us a leg up. It was our foresight that enabled us to achieve this place of dominance on the planet.
Now we must ask, what is the collective impact of all 6.7 billion human beings on earth? We've never had to do this before. It is very very difficult but we have no choice. We've got to sit down and do that because now scientists and engineers and computers are acting in the great tradition of human thought. They are looking ahead, they are seeing where the dangers lie and the opportunities are and for over forty years they've been telling us we are heading down a very dangerous path. That there are opportunities in wind, in solar and all of these other areas but that the way we are going is very dangerous and now we are turning our backs on the very survival strategy of our species.
We say we can't afford it. It'll ruin the economy and all these other arguments and I am sorry I don't have the time, but let me just say that a critical issue that confronts us is that we've put the economy as the source of everything that matters, that it's our highest priority. This is what is driving us along this destructive path. You see economics and ecology come from the same root word "eco" from the Greek word oikos, meaning home. Ecology is the study of home. Economics is the management of home. Ecologists try to find the conditions and principles that allow life to flourish and survive.
I would have thought any group of people would say, before I do whatever I do, I am going to go to those ecologists and say gee, what are the principles and conditions, so that I don't conflict with those conditions and principles that allow us to survive and flourish. But no, we've elevated economics above ecology. You hear it from Mr. Bush, you hear it from Mr. Harper, you hear it from Mr. Stelmach, they are all saying, oh well we've gotta do something about climate change but we can't do anything that will jeopardize the economy. The economy has been elevated up above everything else. That is what you are all operating under. Why has wind had such terrible trouble getting traction and expanding? The economics has really retarded you. That is why standard offer contract (feed-in tariff or FIT) has been so powerful. As we've learned from Germany it works. Still I would say we are operating within in a paradigm that is heavily weighted against what you are doing.
Why is that? For one thing we don't properly account for everything. You see what nature does is considered an externality. I didn't know this was an economic term. An externality means it is not included in the equation. Now when we were fighting for the Stein Valley that I mentioned earlier, I went camping up in the valley and when I came out with my family I encountered the CEO of Fletcher Challenge, the company that was going to log it, it was turned into a park, we won by the way, but we came out and I met the CEO and we got into a discussion which turned into a shouting match. Finally he said, listen Suzuki, are tree huggers like you willing to pay so we don't cut those trees down, because if you are not willing to pay for that, they don't really have any value until someone cuts them down. I went, oh my God he is right. In our economic system those trees in the valley are taking carbon dioxide out of the air, putting oxygen back into it. Not a bad service for animals like us. That is an externality.
So all of the things that nature does for us for nothing is by economists considered an externality. That is why we don't care what happens to the atmosphere because it is free. In Canada we are not willing to pay for what we put into the atmosphere.
David Suzuki and Hermann Scheer
There has been a proposal to push for a green energy act evolved from the German standard offer program. We have Dr. Hermann Scheer who is the architect of the renewable sources act in Germany. Thank God for Germany is all I can say, thank God. Welcome and thank you for joining us. Mr. Scheer has been involved for the last twenty years in helping evolve renewables in Germany with 240,000 thousand jobs created from the renewable sector. This is the beginning.
The question is can we do this in here in Ontario? Well are we stupid or what, we've got a model, they've broken the ground for us, and for us to start using arguments like it will make us non-competitive, or that it will destroy the economy, Germany puts the lie to that. I don't get it.
On the question of the economy I think the fundamental misunderstanding around climate, sustainability and the renewable energy issue is that we are talking about general decrease in the standard of living of everyday people in a country that has embraced this stuff. That has been proven false now by half of Europe. What you are talking about is a decrease in the profit of certain kinds of business and a massive increase in the profit of others. That doesn't particularly affect your average consumer. If you look at the German case, which is the most elaborate one, I believe the estimate is something like half a euro cent per kilowatt hour extra are paid in order to create an industry that employs 250,000 people and churns out something like 5 billion Euros a years worth now of revenue. As far as I understand, there not many German consumers who are complaining. They are excellently positioned now, a not very sunny, not very windy country, to be a global leader for decades to come in solar and wind energy. There is really nothing but opportunity.
David Suzuki and Hermann Scheer
I spent a bit of time in my discussion talking about the great advantage of our species over other species was the ability to look ahead. Learn from our mistakes. We've got Germany now to show us. We didn't have to break new ground we let Germany and Sweden and others do it. If we don't learn from that then we are making a fundamental mistake. The thing about Germany is they don't have anything like the resources we have in Ontario. It is humiliating to see what we are doing compared to Germany. You are doing more with so much less, and yet leading the world. It is shameful.
It is the most cost effective climate protection plan, our (the German) renewable energy act, by far more cost effective than the emission trading system, by far more. That means we would not need the emission trading system.
Now do you pay a carbon tax in Germany? No, we have no carbon tax. We have an energy tax and we have an additional energy tax which is called the ecotax. What made this acceptable in Germany? Was the public better educated?
No, it was a political change, a change of two political parties towards these policies. This came not from the leadership, this came from the grassroots, within the parties and the grassroots outside the parties. It was a movement.
Is that part of the green party? It was the green party and the social democratic party. There was a grassroots concern about the environment. Parties move only if there is a movement in the society. Not all move in the same direction. It depends on what values are represented by the parties, which values the members have, and this varies. It was a change in the public debate and the public atmosphere coming by grassroots. For renewable energy, by showing, this is the most important thing, by showing that it is possible to come to renewables in general, to overcome the downgrading arguments. The argument that renewables are not enough, that they don't provide enough potential, that we need all of the other forms of energy. This is the main justification for delaying renewables. With these justifications they legitimize new coal power stations, new nuclear power stations. This is the energy lie.
Renewable energy gives to democracy a future because a state that is totally dependent in their lifeblood for all things, for civilization, for economy, this is energy. Without energy nothing works. A development in which governments become totally dependent, the whole society, to an energy supplier, has nothing to do with democracy any more. The future of such a country is not any more in the hands of their own democratic institutions. This is the present situation.
We are in a race against time to come to a general shift from fossil and nuclear energies to renewables. Race against time means we need to do this in the next decades in this, the first half of this century. The reasons for this are already, by many so called energy experts, ignored or denounced. However, it is obvious that we have only three of four decades to change the energy system in general. To come to a new energy basis for all of mankind, not only in one country but in all countries, everywhere. The reasons for this are now impossible to ignore because of two limits of the conventional energy system. The conventional energy system I define as a system based on unsustainable use of biomass in many countries but mainly on the unsustainable use of fossil energies and nuclear energy. There is one limit which is no longer contradictable. This is that the limit of the reserves shows us that there are two curves of energy development. One is the decreasing curve of depleting reserves of coal, oil, gas and uranium. On the other side an increasing curve of energy demand in world civilization. Alone in the last fifteen years, since the beginning of the nineties, there was an energy demand growth of 50 percent, faster than ever before.
That means we are racing worldwide into the energy trap of lacking energy availability. The development runs of the two curves, one decreasing curve of reserves, one increasing curve of demand, to a crossing point. If we arrive at this crossing point mankind would get the most bloody conflict that ever happened, because without energy nothing works. That means it is a really existential conflict for everyone. We are now in a situation in which we are approaching this crossing point. Even if in this approaching period, we get more and more problems, besides the climate problem, even if we did not have the climate problem, we would be in a hurry to change the energy system, to change the energy basis. What happens, when you look at the oil prices as we approach this crossing point, the energy prices go up and up and up, more and more. If it is the case for oil, gas will follow. In the uranium field exactly the same thing will happen and the coal will follow. Nobody should think that coal prices will stay at this level like now, while the oil prices are going up and the gas prices are going up.
This endangers the whole world economy. It endangers up until now the third world. More than forty countries in the third world have to pay actually, for the import of oil, more than their total export earnings. That means they don't have any chance in the future as long as they stay on the energy dependency trap, that means as long as the don't shift to indigenous renewable energy which have a free fuel source, and which would allow them to save their currency. Those who speak about the third world crisis without mentioning or having, or being aware of this point, means he doesn't know what he is speaking about.
Even in the rich countries the energy bill becomes more and more expensive. This creates a social problem that gets worse day after day. That means we have to change very soon. It is no longer possible to postpone it. What happens world-wide is an energy tragedy. The reason is that for decades there was an ignorance about renewable energy. The potential was denounced. Therefore, most governments failed to have a look and to develop a policy towards renewable energy. Already we have only a handful of countries in the world with an adequate policy for renewable energy. Look at the whole world and you see the relationship.
It is necessary to give the answer, the answer for why we have this bad development, this worsening development. This is only one limit.
The second limit is that we are not allowed to burn off all these known reserves. The ecological limit of this global pyromania is closer than the limit of the reserves. Therefore, we must turn to a general replacement of the conventional energy system in the next three or four decades. That means we have to begin everywhere radically, really radically. All who say that this would not be realistic have a wrong understanding of realism. The most important criteria for realism is to have an adequate answer to the real problem. Those who don't have an answer to the real problem can never be realistic, never. What is defined today as realism is nothing other than behaving and muddling through the existing constellations. This is an illusion to win the future with this mentality or with this limited scope and programs.
Renewable energy systems gives us the opportunity for a clean energy consumption and production everywhere. That means the two main problems of world civilization of today can only be solved by a shift to renewable energies. This is a historical target. This is the challenge of the century. This has to be the first priority of all political institutions. This has to be the main strategy of governments and of parliaments and it must be the main call of our societies to push governments, to urge governments, to go this way.
Why don't they do that in an adequate way? There is one psychological reason. This reason you can see in the movie of Al Gore, indirectly. This movie, An Inconvenient Truth, shows all the problems of climate change caused by the conventional energy system, but it doesn't give an answer. It becomes problematic at this time to show a gigantic danger without giving an answer. People can only be committed if they see a perspective. Nobody works for a target that is estimated to be insufficient or that won't work. Therefore we must finish the energy debate in which we create smaller and smaller steps away from gigantic dangers. This is the wrong standard. The adequate standard is to have a highly ambitious strategy.
This is a psychological problem but this doesn't provide an answer to the question, why is there so much resistance, so many doubts, and why is there such a lack of curiosity towards renewable energy despite the energy crisis. I think this be explained by the already existing myth of the indispensability of the conventional energy system. The protagonists of the conventional energy system say always, that potential of renewables would not be enough to replace fossil and nuclear energy. Or they say, the economic burden for the society would be too high. Or say they, it requires time, and in the mean time, we need a bridge. The bridges are new nuclear power stations or the use of clean coal power stations that use carbon dioxide sequestration as a bridge to renewable energies. All these things are discussed as postponements. With these proposals and these propositions they want to postpone the shift to renewable energies for three or four decades more in order to win time, not for going to renewables, but for keeping the existing energy structures like they are for some decades more. They know there is an end, they know it, they are not stupid. They want to delay it for very selfish reasons caused by the existing energy system.
I think it is exactly as Hermann Scheer says. It is going to be entrepreneurship and business opportunity. There is a great example again in the solar business. BP Solar division in I think 2003 or 2004 developed some of the most efficient solar panels anyone ever made including thin film which is kind of the next generation solar technology and then abandoned the project, particularly the thin film project, basically deciding that the efficiency levels on thin film are too low. It is not going to be market viable.
Now you've got a number of startup companies that emerged out of labs, that emerged out of silicon valley, out of venture capital ventures, that are bringing that type of technology to market. There is a company called Nanosolar in Silicon Valley, there is First Solar in Phoenix and a couple German companies as well. They are independent standalone companies, all they do is solar energy. There interest, therefore, is not simply investing in this future but getting to market as soon as possible. What they are finding is that now that you have a guaranteed mass market in a number of countries, Germany most prominently, but also a growing number of European countries. You are starting to see it a little bit in parts of the United States. Now with Ontario's feed-in tariff, that once you have a market like that, and most of those feed-in tariffs and other sort of incentives are twenty, twenty five year, you can build a business on that. You know that there going to be customers and the good thing about that is that it is a self perpetuating feedback loop. As you make more of the stuff the cheaper it gets, the more desirable it gets. We are seeing conventional energy prices go through the roof. We are hitting that, what the renewable energy people call, grid parity which is the magic moment when a kilowatt hour of solar or wind costs the same as any other energy source. Once we hit that, and it is really just a matter of time now, there are estimates of 2011 or 2012 now, in parts of Europe we may see that. Then when we see that they are off to the races.
The main reason for that is that there is a third big difference between conventional energies and renewables. First, renewables which are in-exhaustable and their the exhaustible conventional energies. The second, with conventional energy you have polluting sources, and their with renewables, the opportunity to produce energy emission free. The third difference is a structural one, a very political one, it is a difference between the flow of the energy sources and where the potential exists. Energy consumption is everywhere people work and live. Energy promotion of the conventional energy system happens at very few places in the world. In the run towards exhaustion the places become fewer and fewer. Sixty percent of world oil extraction happens in only forty giant fields. Very few countries and very few giant fields. From all these places, from the coal mine, from the uranium mine, from the oil extraction to gas extraction, there is a long energy chain to the last village in all countries and regions in the world. A long energy chain is required to make this energy available. This means we have only one choice, the decision of energy source. After this decision, all other things that have to be done, are decided by the energy source indirectly.
The difference with renewable energy is that it has the potential sources everywhere, more or less intensively. Everywhere it could be supplied and what is supplied by nature everywhere can be harvested everywhere. That means with the conventional energy system we get automatically, unavoidably a global energy system of an increasing decoupling of the spaces of energy production and energy consumption at the world-wide level, with a large energy chain along the energy flow, with many many elements in the chain, and each element is a cashier. At each element we have energy losses. The conventional energy system can never become efficient, impossible. With renewable energy we have the chance to relink spaces of energy consumption and energy harvesting.
That means the conventional energy system did lead to the present global economy with more and more existential dependencies. With renewable energy we can come to energy autonomy in each country and in each region, in each city, perhaps in the world. It makes political autonomy possible for the future. The conventional energy system makes political autonomy practically impossible more and more.
Probably the thing that I find the most powerful is again a German example, the plus energy houses that were built by Rolf Dtch in Freiburg. So fifty eight houses, all of them very standard German middle class town homes, they cost about the same as the standard middle class town home, and every single one, over the course of a year, produces more energy than it consumes. To my mind your house as a powerplant, that is an extraordinarily powerful idea in my mind.
This is a very decisive question which can not be only discussed among particularized energy experts. Most energy experts are part of the problem. That is my experience because they have a very very limited view, only looking at very specific technological elements and comparing an isolated technological element, a power station with the cost of a power station for renewables. That is too limited. This is not enough. This doesn't give us a view regarding the problem. This hinders us from having an adequate view of the problem.
This shows at the same time that the requirement to follow the total other energy flow of the renewable energies leads to another energy system and a different development of the economy. The changes are tremendous. The changes to a renewable energy system are changes from foreign energy for most countries, more and more, to indigenous energies. It is a change and shift from commercially primary energies, coal, gas, oil and uranium, to non-commercial primary energies like wind and solar radiation or hydro. The only exception is biomass because the agricultural work has to be paid for the production of biofuels.
It is a shift which shows that the primary energy economy, the oil suppliers, the gas suppliers, the coal and uranium suppliers will disappear. They will lose their job. They can not change from being a seller of oil, gas and coal to become a seller of wind or solar radiation. This shows how strong the resistance against renewable energy must be. They don't have a chance to shift to renewable energy with their main job, they can do other things, but they can not remain in the energy field.
It is furthermore a shift, because of the other energy characteristics, and the other energy densities, a shift from few big power stations and refineries, to many small and medium ones, which altogether replace the few, replace the few power supplying structures. It is a move away from the need for many infrastructure transportation systems to regional transportation or to energy autonomy with renewable energy storage technologies. It is a radical shift.
It shows at the same time we need other players for that. Only with other players we can do that because the conventional energy system is in a situation which is difficult for them, no doubt. There is not one time identifiable at which all the previous investments they have made for the whole conventional energy system that all these previous investments are amortized, are repaid at the same time. This point doesn't exist because the investments were not done at the same time. They are always running investments. The different investments along the whole chain have very different lifetimes. So they try to postpone right up to the last drop of oil, the last drop of coal, or the last cubic meter of gas. That is there problem.
If we want to come to a renewable energy strategy we need players who don't have a vested interest. This is the secret reason why the renewable energy act in Germany worked and why it became so successful. We created a special energy market for renewables which could not be interfered with by the conventional energy players. We created three elements. First element was a guaranteed access to the grid for each renewable energy power player even if it is a very small one. Second, we gave a guaranteed payment. With only these two elements we could overcome any interference from the power companies. The investors had the opportunity to do it without asking for permission from the conventional power players. They got investment autonomy. So they were free to make their investments. They had no vested interest in the existing energy system. And the third element was not to make a cap because only if there is no cap can their be industrial scale development, industrial investments which are long term investments. These three elements created the dynamic we have in Germany, only these.
We are now seeing renewables sources become cost competitive without decades and decades of subsidies, without the kind of job incentives. I mean the coal industry gets subsidized all over the world to keep employing people in this thing we know is the engine of our potential demise. You don't get government subsidies very many places to just employ people just building wind turbines. There is really an unequal economy but even that said we are now seeing pretty big headway being made by the renewable sources. Anywhere they've done the German style feed-in tariff one of the brilliant things about it is that it is not a subsidy. It is a rate payer surcharge. So it is not your tax dollars as a German consumer that are feeding this extra cost of solar and wind. You are just paying per kilowatt hour. What that means is whoever uses more energy pays more of their share. On top of that you now have the opportunity as a German citizen to participate in producing energy for the first time, in a very long time, and that can offset some of your costs. From the consumer or average tax payers point of view it is an incredibly attractive offer. If you are a conventional energy producer with hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars invested in the infrastructure of delivering conventional fuel sources, then it is not so attractive.
This shows fourth, four consequences that I want to say a few final words about. The first consequence is that all political institutions, politicians, governments, parliamentarians should have in their mind that it is necessary to not accept any more that the protagonists and the carriers of the present energy system should be the carriers and the protagonists for the ways to renewable energy. They can't. They can do it a little bit but they are obliged by their own business management calculations to postpone. They will never become the real driving force we need. We need independent investors. That means they should stop the behavior of being subordinated under the conventional power companies whether they are state owned or private. They must come to an emancipation from them. This is a spiritual element but they need it since only then can they develop, independent from their advice the adequate strategy.
They should overcome the limited economic view. We can explain if we take all political elements together, all economic elements together, all the economic advantages, all the avoided problems by going to renewable energy that each step to renewable energy creates a macro economic benefit for each society in which it has happened. We can show that. But the macro economic benefit is not at the same time a micro economic benefit for all producers and customers. Therefore the political art is to transform, with the right policy, like the renewable energy act, to transform the macro economic benefit into micro economic incentive, then the dynamic from and with the society starts. This is the first main recommendation.
The second is that it is necessary to overcome, even among environmental organizations, the particularized view on ecology and nature protection. This has been one challenge for wind dissemination. When people fight against wind mills for landscape protection then they also have a limited view on ecology. In the time when the glaciers melt, when the ice of the arctic melts, when the ice of the antarctic melts, when we have more and more droughts, and more and more storms, more and more caused by climate change, we can see that there is not one square meter in the world which is not endangered by the conventional energy system.
The only opportunity to overcome this is to shift to clean emission free energy like wind as a driving force for that actually. Therefore in order for the intent to protect landscape, fighting against wind mills is out of standard. It has nothing to do with ecology. We fight for the global ecology, we fight for the global protection of our environment. Therefore we must tell those that have this wrong standard that they have an environmental understanding which is, in scope, too limited.
The third element is that we should speak about 100% renewable energy. We must show that it is possible everywhere. It has been done by many studies. It is necessary to explain that nothing can be implemented faster than renewable energy. We have short installation times. We have long construction times for conventional power stations. Therefore the argument is nonsense that we would need time. If we are in a race against time we have the best opportunity to do it with a decentralized renewable energy system. Why 100% renewable energy? Only then the justification is over for investors, for conventional energy players, or governments, that we would need a new coal power stations or new nuclear power stations. The justifications is always that renewable energies are not enough but they are enough. So it is necessary to show 100% opportunity and that it can be done faster.
100 square miles of solar power can provide all the electricity required by the United States. Solar panels on 10% of buildings in the cities could provide all the electricity required.
Look to Canada, that is my final remark, look to Canada, or look to Ontario, I got the numbers in the morning. Roughly 30,000 megawatt electric power production capacity. 10,000 is hydro already. That means you need 20,000 megawatt for replacing coal and nuclear in a province which is three times larger than Germany. Germany has 350,000 square kilometers and 85 million people. We are highly industrialized. We are export champions for industrial goods around the world. We could with a small area introduce nearly 25,000 megawatts of wind power capacities in roughly the last ten to twenty years. That means it is easy to show if you take the most modern wind mills with a higher individual capacity, it is possible to show, for Ontario that within five years, you could substitute 20,000 megawatts nuclear and coal, and combined with the existing hydro power, nothing is better technologically, complementary, than hydro power from dams with wind because then you have solved all reserve problems if there is sometimes not enough wind. Then you take one turbine more and you have it. With such a background of one third large hydro power and dams it is totally easy to come to 100% solution by wind power investments within five years. Where is the problem? The problem is in the minds. It is not a technological problem, it is not an economic problem, the problem is only in the mind. Problems and barriers in the mind, we can all overcome this very fast because it is just a matter of getting the information, getting the recognition of that, of the real alternative. That means we have the perspective and we should run and then we can win the future. Thank you very much.
"The problems that exist in the world today cannot be solved by the level of thinking that created them." - Albert Einstein
Renewable Energy Act:
1. Guaranteed access to the grid
2. Guaranteed long term payment
3. No cap
- Herman Scheer
Documentary Video Trailer
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