The Economic, Social & Technological Case for Renewable Energy

For 200 years industrial civilization has relied on the combustion of abundant and cheap carbon fuels. But continued reliance has had perilous consequences. On the one hand there is the insecurity of relying on the world’s most unstable region — the Middle East — compounded by the imminence of peak oil, growing scarcity and mounting prices. On the other, the potentially cataclysmic consequences of continuing to burn fossil fuels, as the evidence of accelerating climate change shows.

Recently, the truth about these consequences have reached a broader audience than usual: Al Gore’s movie, “An Inconvenient Truth,” transformed the dry and distant scientific discussions about climate change into an emotional appealing story that has infiltrated mainstream consciousness; The Stern-Report has shown economists that combating climate change is not a romantic ecological luxury, but a must to keep the costs lower than dealing with the impending consequences; the fourth IPCC report 2007 has given once again the scientific proof to policy makers that climate change is a reality and man-made. All of these messages have actually been around for decades, but had not found a broad dissemination to create a substantial change in political, economic or consumption behavior. Yet there is a solution: to make the transition to renewable sources of energy and distributed, decentralized energy generation. It is a model that has been proven, technologically, commercially and politically, as Hermann Scheer illustrates in his new book, Energy Autonomy: The Economic, Social & Technological Case for Renewable Energy. The architect of the German feed law — and member of the German Bundestag (Parliament), president of Eurosolar and General Chairman of the World Council for Renewable Energy (WCRE) — Scheer has not only provided strategies for energy autonomy and the broad implementation of renewable energy, but also practical solutions that have proven to be a great success in Germany. The 100,000 Solar Roof Program, the German Renewable Energy Act (EEG) and the tax exemption of Biofuels are just a few examples of policies pushed through by Scheer. These policies have created the biggest markets for renewable energy so far in the world — and enabled independent players to secure sufficient financial resources for investing in new renewable energy technologies and production sites. The progress already: the renewable energy industry is a multi-billion Euro industry with high growth rates. “Hermann Scheer — principal architect of the policies that converted cloudy Germany into the world’s leading market for solar energy — demonstrates that the German model can and must be replicated in every nation that aspires toward a healthy, peaceful future,” said Denis Hayes, former director of the U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory. In Energy Autonomy, Scheer provides a multidimensional program for: * independent energy availability where it is consumed, instead of growing dependence on depleting resources and unstable energy producing regions of the world. * political decentralization and promotion schemes for renewable energies instead of international top-down approaches that cannot recognize the local nature of renewable energies and regional particularities. * open and wide investments by many new players in the technological, financial and private field stimulated by market introduction programs like the German EEG instead of investment controlled and steered by governmental programs or by half-committed conventional energy companies. * diversity of renewable energy technologies, and regions of implementation instead of market harmonization towards the most competitive renewable energy technology at present. * taking ecological responsibility by promoting renewable energy instead of being indifferent towards the environmental benefits of renewable energy and only calculating the costs. “In urging an acceleration of the transition to renewable energy,” said Lester Brown, president of the Earth Policy Institute, “Scheer exposes the fallacies surrounding the current paradigm and looks beyond the purely environmental benefits to outline the path to energy security.” Those who are interested in hearing more about Scheer’s practical visions and solutions can join him on his North American book tour, which kicked off in San Francisco on February 15th and will end on February 27th at the U.N. Foundation in New York City.

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