SAN FRANCISCO—The CleanTech German American Solar team from both Berlin and California challenged the Governor to stop fracking and start paneling in a forum at Intersolar North America 2013 Thursday- keynoted by Governor Jerry Brown.
Governor Brown called on the solar industry to “bring the future forward” and that we should move toward energy systems that are “totally compatible with the rules of nature,” because, he added, “if we fight nature, we are fighting our own life support system.”
Brown can certainly say the above after having signed SB2x into law two years ago April that has California on track to gain 33 percent of its RPS (required portfolio standard) electricity to come from renewable energy sources by 2020. However, solar power usage in the USA is currently just one percent (EIA.gov, 2012).
Meanwhile, the country of Germany installed the same amount of solar that all of America possessed in totality and cumulatively since the 70s in just one month alone last year February. Why? The team claims it is because that country has put distributed generation policies in place, also referred to as roof-top solar.
The technology is in place, the policies are not
To boot, Timon Meyer, Senior Advisor, refutes what is being told to the American public. “The technology is in place; anyone who tells you we can’t bring about a system based on 100% renewable energy sources right now probably acts out of vested personal interest.”
Given this, the requirement of mining for natural gas by fracking as a transition fuel (as mentioned by the President in his climate change speech) or that we will need to rely upon natural gas as a bridge fuel, can be considerably reduced if the USA would adopt similar policies that the Germans have.
The President gave his speech just one week after philanthropist Tom Steyer kicked off his “We Love Our Land” campaign last month to push the Whitehouse for greater leadership on the climate change. Meyer speaks on solid ground given that Germany surpassed 20% RPS three years ago and whose new target is to obtain 45% of its energy from renewable sources by 2030.
Germany has become the center of solar commerce throughout all of Europe, and it plans to open a 220-acre parcel for manufacturing companies, the CleanTech Business Park, located in a district of Berlin, a city buzzing with an “exciting urban life” and a comparatively low cost of living. Meyer and his associates have invited American businesses as well, as a staging ground to access the European market.
The park will encompass an entire infrastructure to create and develop clean technology throughout Europe. This will include facilities for research and development for energy conservation, design & manufacture, energy storage. Meyer speaks boldly, “There is no need for coal or gas.”
Governor Brown: Moving solar forward
David Wortmann, Managing Director of the Berlin-Brandenburg Energy Network and DWR eco GmbH, had a very constructive meeting with Governor Brown this week to share the experience of the German renewable energy industry.
Wortmann had this to say, “My impression is that Governor Brown is willing to bring solar to the next level in California. He is very interested to learn from the experiences we have had in Germany so far creating the largest solar market in the world. He understands that employing solar is not just helping us to fight climate change, but also to boost the economy and to create sustainable jobs.”
A Green economy for all
SEIU Local 1000 Environmental Committee Chair and President of the Environmental Council of Sacramento Rick Guerrero would like to see solutions along the lines of what Governor Brown told the audience at the opening of the conference in that what is needed is to learn how to market solar power. Guerrero also supports Meyer and those in the clean energy industry when they say the technology already exists, “All that needs to happen now is the political will and policies to support its implementation.”
However, Guerrero also sees the development of solar energy as just one component of an overall green economy along the lines of Van Jones work, and has developed a statewide forum plan to further implement this vision. The plan includes regional surveys with local live event public forums including instant interactive voting from the audience where labor, industry, advocates, activists, investors, and policy makers sit down at the same table to work through each stakeholder’s issues on both the technological, and social economics levels in addition to not only market and correct our economy with the innovation of solar, but the entire cornucopia of what makes a green and equitable economy.
- Karen Hansen is a guest blogger with Ring of Fire. Follow her on Twitter @naturalllyi, and Facebook.