Paul Gipe has studied the success of EEG (Erneuerbare Energien Gesetz), the revised German feed-in tariff. In a recent article for Renewable Energy Access, Gipe reported that renewable energy sources supply nearly 12% of electricity generated in Germany.
Under the German program, renewable energy producers are paid a fixed-price for feeding their electricity into the grid. This has led to a boom in the construction of wind turbines, rooftop solar systems and on-farm bio-gas plants.
In 2006 alone, German farmers installed 300 MW of solar photo voltaics on barn roofs. German homeowners installed an equal amount. Altogether, Germans installed 4,000 MW of new renewables last year.
“The current energy industry has quite masterfully succeeded in lulling many Americans to sleep on the dangers of the poisons they sell, while portraying renewables as a distant dream.” S. David Freeman
A feed-in tariff is a long-term, fixed rate for renewable energy, not pegged to the retail price of energy. The rate provide sufficient incentive, i.e., the price is fair, yet there is no undue profit. (Obscene profit is the gated province of Big Oil.)
In a presentation for the Oregon Department of Renewable Energy, Gipe recommends that a feed-in tariff, a.k.a., Advanced Renewable Tariff, should be sufficiently differentiated. The incentive should differ for differing technologies and for differing sizes & regions, which is a lot to ask of an Oregon legislator.
Flanked by state legislators, Governor Kulongoski signed SB 838, which requires 25% renewables by 2025 and a 50% tax credit for solar installations and manufacturing facilities. In absence of federal initiative, states are leading the way in solar energy development.
The United States needs to greatly improve combined heat and power from solar, wind, geothermal and bio-energy. Short of impeachment, this probably cannot happen until this time next year.
Meanwhile, what advocates in California, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, Oregon and Wisconsin — states leading the Nation in renewable energy development — are saying is that RPS (Renewable energy Portfolio Standards) alone are insufficient to stimulate enough growth in geothermal, solar, wind and other alternatives to offset critical diminution of nuclear and coal-fired electric power generation.
Dr. Ulf Bossell has written:
The reserves of coal, oil, natural gas and uranium are limited. In our time scale, they do not regenerate. Hence we can use them only as long as they last. In addition, their emissions — carbon dioxide and radioactive waste — cannot be absorbed by nature. Consequently, none of these energy sources can satisfy both sustainability criteria.
The 2007 IPCC report, compiled by several hundred climate scientists, has unequivocally concluded that our climate is warming rapidly, and that we are now at least 90% certain that this is mostly due to human activities. The amount of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere now far exceeds the natural range of the past 650,000 years, and it is rising very quickly due to human activity. If this trend is not halted soon, many millions of people will be at risk from extreme events such as heat waves, drought, floods and storms, our coasts and cities will be threatened by rising sea levels, and many ecosystems, plants and animal species will be in serious danger of extinction.
The next round of focused negotiations for a new global climate treaty (within the 1992 UNFCCC process) needs to begin in December 2007 and be completed by 2009. The prime goal of this new regime must be to limit global warming to no more than 2 ºC above the pre-industrial temperature, a limit that has already been formally adopted by the European Union and a number of other countries.
Based on current scientific understanding, this requires that global greenhouse gas emissions need to be reduced by at least 50% below their 1990 levels by the year 2050. In the long run, greenhouse gas concentrations need to be stabilised at a level well below 450 ppm (parts per million; measured in CO2-equivalent concentration). In order to stay below 2 ºC, global emissions must peak and decline in the next 10 to 15 years, so there is no time to lose.
As scientists, we urge the negotiators to reach an agreement that takes these targets as a minimum requirement for a fair and effective global climate agreement.