International Community Power Conference Set for 3-5 July in Bonn, Germany
51% of German Renewables Now Owned by Its Own Citizens
January 5, 2012
By Paul Gipe
Germany, a country where 51% of the renewable energy generation is owned by its own citizens, will be hosting an international conference on community power 3-5 July, 2012 in Bonn, the former capital.
The conference will be held in the historic chamber where the world’s first feed-in law was enacted, the former home of the Bundestag, Germany’s parliament. The Stromeinspeisungsgesetz, literally the “law on feeding in electricity” (to the grid) was introduced by conservative Bavarian farmers frustrated with their utility’s intransigence to connecting their small hydro plants with the grid.
The “feed-in” law was passed overwhelmingly by the conservative government of Helmut Kohl, and quickly ushered in a revolution in the way electricity was generated in Germany, spreading rapidly from Bavaria in the south all the way to the Danish border in the north.
Farmers, individuals and community groups could, for the first time, emulate their Danish neighbors by installing their own wind turbines and selling the resulting electricity at a hoped-for profit. These electricity rebels, Stromrebellen as they’re called in German, began appearing all across the country, even in the former communist East Germany.
The Bonn conference is timely. Interest in community ownership of renewable energy generation is increasing not only in Europe but also in North America, following the launch of Ontario’s groundbreaking feed-in tariff program of 2009. Ontario’s policy specifically encourages community and aboriginal ownership of renewables. Currently 800 MW of projects, a full 20% of all projects in the Ontario program, are under contract, though not yet built.
Nevertheless, potential community ownership in Ontario and the existing 300 MW of community wind in Minnesota pale in comparison to community-owned renewables in Germany.
In 2010, 51% of the more than 50,000 MW of renewable energy capacity in Germany was owned by farmers or individual citizens. This represents a staggering $100 billion in private investment.
German farmers alone have installed 1,600 MW of biogas plants and 3,600 MW of solar photovoltaics (solar PV). For comparison, in 2010 there was only 60 MW of biogas plants and 2,200 MW of solar PV in the entire USA.
Citizen-ownership is a direct translation of the German term Bürgerbeteiligung. Though there is a long history of cooperative ownership in the English-speaking world, the concept of local ownership of energy generation is so novel today that the term “citizen” appears awkward on the tongue. Even in the land of Thomas Jefferson, the word “citizen” has fallen out of favor in preference to “individual”.
It is ironic that it is non-native speakers of English who have begun to revive both the word “citizen” and its meaning. Travelers to Germany marvel at how “Jeffersonian” the Bürgerbeteiligung movement has become in democratizing electricity generation, by literally placing power generation in the hands of the people.
German farmers, community leaders and entrepreneurs are not only democratizing electricity generation and renewable heat, but are also setting their sights on an equally ambitious prize, the transmission system itself.
The conference is being organized by the World Wind Energy Association (WWEA) and the German Wind Turbine Owners Association (BWE). Both organizations are longtime supporters of community ownership of renewable energy. Because it represents the thousands of individual owners of wind turbines in Germany, BWE has become the world’s largest wind energy association.
With backing by federal, state and local government, the community power conference is expected to attract attendees from around the globe.
“If we want to reach 100% renewable energy supply,” says Stefan Gsänger, WWEA’s managing director. “We have to ensure that local communities benefit from renewable energy development and support projects in their vicinity. Community- and citizen-ownership models have a proven track record in achieving this objective.”
Gsänger recently won the International Community Power Award from the Ontario Sustainable Energy Association for his work fostering “citizen” ownership of renewable energy.
What’s New on Feed-in Tariffs
- “Citizen Power” Conference to be held in Historic Chamber Where World’s First Feed-in Law Was Enacted–Germany, a country where 51% of the renewable energy generation is owned by its own citizens, will be hosting an international conference on community power 3-5 July, 2012 in Bonn, the former capital. The conference will be held in the historic chamber where the world’s first feed-in law was enacted, the former home of the Bundestag, Germany’s parliament. . .
- Cleantechnia: More feed-in tariffs will drive fast installation of rooftop solar–In North America and around the world, I think we’ll see more governments moving forward with feed-in tariff policies to support solar. Why? Well, simply put, it’s been the most effective policy for driving solar power installation around the world. . .
- Nova Scotia: First Round of Successful Feed-in Tariff Applicants Announced–Five communities from across Nova Scotia are closer to enjoying the benefits of clean, green renewable electricity generated in their own backyards as the province announced the first approved Community Feed-In Tariff (COMFIT) projects. . .
- Pakistan: Feed-in tariff for coal and solar power soon–Minister for water and power, Syed Naveed Qamar, said government will soon announce feed-in tariff for coal and solar power projects to meet the rising energy requirements of the country. . .
- Unlikely Coalition Joins Forces to Recommend Changes to Ontario’s Feed-in Tariff Program–Renewable energy advocates and a solar industry trade group filed a joint submission on December 14, 2011 as part of the province of Ontario’s scheduled two-year review of its groundbreaking feed-in tariff (FIT) program. . .
- Ontario Feed-In Tariff: 2011 Review–In response to the government’s two-year feed-in tariff (FIT) review process, the Green Energy Act Alliance and Shine Ontario Association have joined forces to present a clear path for renewable energy in Ontario. The report’s goal is to ensure that new green jobs continue to be created, that Ontario residents be given more opportunities to participate in community renewable projects, and that FIT prices be reduced in 2012 for new projects to reflect the success of Ontario’s burgeoning solar industry and the reduction in solar prices globally. . .
- Ontario Ratepayer Impact of Sustainable FIT Program–The Green Energy Act Alliance’s (GEAA) proposed long-term renewable energy supply plan adds approximately 15,000 MW of new renewable capacity in steady, sustainable, annual increments for seven years. We estimate that in 2018 total generation from our proposal would contribute about 32 terawatt-hours per year (TWh/yr) or nearly 21% of the province’s electricity supply. Added to existing new renewable generation in the province, this target could bring total new renewable generation to 25% of consumption by 2018. . .
Nuclear Power, Japan, Feed-in Tariffs, and the Rapid Development of Renewables