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photo by Thomas Kohler
NEWS RELEASE · 27th March 2012
Mathew McDermott
Over Half of Germany’s Renewable Energy Owned By Citizens & Farmers, Not Utility Companies

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 US.

Over at Wind-Works, Paul Gipe points out 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.

Breaking that down into solar power and wind power, 50% of Germany’s solar PV is owned by individuals and farms, while 54% of its wind power is held by the same groups.

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).

Remember, Germany now produces slightly over 20% of all its electricity from renewable sources.

The thing that got me 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 means—obviously a democratic shift in control of resources and a break from the way electricity and energy has been produced over the past century.

A good thing: Decentralized power generation, more relocalization and reregionalization 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.
A footnote
Comment by James Ippel on 31st March 2012
The last report I heard was that Gemany has spent in excess of $150 billion on solar energy which produces less that 2% of their requirements.
They have now decided that this is far to high a price to pay and are discontinueing building any more solar energy facilities.
some remarks
Comment by alexander pietralla on 28th March 2012
Being from Germany and having lived there for almost 40 years I can make some remarks on this article. The private ownership was heavily subsidized and followed a decade of policy meddling and getting the legal formulas right to guarantee the tariffs are transparent and fair. Also, the cost for Power in Germany are app. 3.5 times what they are in Canada, and that in a country half the size of BC with 82 million inhabitants. Green Power is expensive power and in order to get this across to society German policies opened the market to independent power producers, giving the end-consumer a choice - if you lived in Germany you could go online and pick and choose what type of power mix you wanted ( Gas, Nuclear, Hydro, Coal etc. ) , and you are able to see just in time what this would do for your tariff. Now, the electrons coming to your house can not be controlled in such a way that it is clear how they were produced, but the choice people make by paying more for they power, gives government and utilities the funding to invest into more green infrastructure, and by law they were obliged to do that. It is a very complicated construct of policies and contracts with utility companies, and I highly doubt BC is ready for such a debate around paying more and possibly opening the market. But thanks for the roses, I am proud of the achievements of my fellow German citizens.