Over 50% of Germany's renewable energy is owned by citizens & farmers, not utility companies

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Sometimes, while not liking them for other reasons, I must wonder as to whether Germany and the Germans are some of the only ones, if not indeed THE only ones, who actually get green and eco properly.

A solar complex in Bavaria, southern GermanyA solar complex in Bavaria, southern Germany

Germany's promotion of renewable energy rightly gets singled out for its effectiveness, most often by me as an example of how to do things well versus the fits and starts method of promotion common in the USA and even the UK.

There is another interesting facet of the German renewable energy saga: 51% of all renewable energy in Germany is owned by individual citizens or farms, totaling $100 billion worth of private investment in clean energy.

When one breaks that down into its components, that is to say, solar power and wind power, then the figures are that 50% of Germany's solar PV is owned by individuals and farms, while 54% of its wind power is held by the same groups.

While the UK has a serious load of wind turbines most of them, however, are not privately or farm owned but are owned by the electricity generating companies, with only a few farms holding such as private possession. Private wind and solar PV installations are rarely coming up in calculations, especially not the individual homes and farms.

In total there's roughly 17 GW of solar PV installed in Germany – versus roughly 3.6 GW in the US (based on SEIA's figures for new installations though the third quarter of 2011 plus the 2.6 GW installed going into the year) and recent figures for the UK are just a little above 6 GW (given by Renewables UK in January 2012). This is for a country which, I am sure, has more wind than Germany, though still, considering our sizes, better than the USA.

Germany now produces slightly over 20% of all its electricity from renewable sources and proves that those things can be done. The real stupid thing is that every time that countries, such as Germany, and their achievements in the real of renewable energy as well as recycling, etc., are pointed out the British government goes into turtle mode, pulling its head into its shell and proclaiming that that cannot work in Britain and Britain is different to all those other countries where it can be done.

The main thing though, other than the huge lead in solar PV installations Germany has over the US, thanks to good policy, and the fact that so much wind power isn't owned by utilities, is what slightly over half of renewable energy being owned not by corporations but by actual biological people mean. Namely an obvious democratic shift in control of resources and a break from the way electricity and energy has been produced over the past century.

This is a good thing indeed and is leads to decentralized power generation, more re-localization and re-regionalization of economic activity, the world getting smaller while more connected and therefore in a way bigger at the same time... taking a step backwards, and perhaps sideways, while moving forwards.

In “Small is beautiful” small power stations for every village were being advocated rather than large corporation owned ones and we must get down to that level.

It is also a much more resilient system in that the entire grid cannot be knocked for six by this or that incident when the entire country has small, personal or community owned power generating plants, whether wind, PV, or biomass.

© 2012