Geothermal Energy | Germany’s Bid For Solar Excellence Scuppered By Upstart …
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Geothermal Energy | Germany’s Bid For Solar Excellence Scuppered By Upstart …

The law was revised in 2000 and now called the Renewable Energy Sources Act to include energy supplied by geothermal derivations such as geysers, natural steam, geopressurized reservoirs, etc. Perhaps not something the average person has access to, but certainly of interest on a corporate level. Ironically, most geothermal energy is not very “renewable” as it is mined faster that it can regenerate, but it is clean and efficient. There is no mistaking that this addition was added, in fact, to attract new business to the clean energy market. More importantly, the 2000 version set a time frame for new investors to 20 years. What that achieved was the insurance and reassurance that people needed before such a huge commitment to their individual projects. On the negative side, the 20 years came with decreased tariffs over time. Why decrease the tariffs? Simply put, the government had set a ceiling of 5% by 2010 and enable green electricity to become 10% of total energy was green energy.

In keeping with the EU’s standard of “frequent performance review,” the law was once again revised in 2004. This time, no great name change. It became the 2004 Renewable Energy Sources Act. Since reaching goals set in 2000 so early, this revision raises to bar to 27% in 2009 and 2010 and then 9% reduction in compensation in 2009 and 2010 (a decrease of 3.5%). Wind energy promotion is the focus of the latest revisions set forth by the governing body. So, is wind the new King of Renewables?

Solar power is perhaps less heavily promoted than in the past, but one must see that as a sign of success of the program. Falling subsidies indicate that the industry is healthy and has less need for gross promotion. Is wind the next “big thing” in Germany? Don’t count out geothermals just yet. Although the “renewability” of geothermal power is in debate, geothermal drilling goes on and was given an early boost in 2000 and further support in 2004. There are currently 150 geothermal plants in the development stage held back at the moment due to the cost of the drilling equipment necessary. Not to be daunted, German manufacturing plants are expanding drill production for the sector. Six geothermal plants are in the process of opening this year (2009) and into 2010.

So, what does this mean for the rest of us? Well, look at it this way. A country with relatively moderate sun exposure and no volcanic activity in 7,500 years is actually a leader in producing solar power and geothermal energy. To say that Germany is inspiring is a vast understatement. If the U.S. made a serious attempt to duplicate Germany’s success, the impact on the environment would be staggering. U.S. representative Jay Inslee from Washington state introduced the Renewable Energy Jobs and Security Act in June of 2008, but it stalled. On a brighter note, Gainesville, FL just passed a law (March 2009) to compensate providers of solar electricity at a premium rate through net metering. City officials passed this bill unanimously after studying the success in Germany. Hawaii isn’t far behind and will likely have a similar plan in effect by the end of the year. I think that this is how we are going to achieve results in the U.S.: one state at a time until the job is done.

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By: Judy Collins

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