Germany has been a leading light in sustainability for many years.
More recently, the country once again showed its leadership in the sector by ditching nuclear power and veering towards alternative energy, unmistakably and inexorably.
A new study by the Fraunhofer Energy Alliance, an organization that researches clean energy, confirms that German is on the right path. It says a transition to renewable energy pays off in the years to come, raising the gross national product (GNP) in the next decade and creates new jobs.
According to a release published by Science Daily, Europe’s renewable energy sector will be employing around 2.8 million people by 2020. “The negative impact of a shift to alternative energy is far outweighed by the remaining positive net effect of some 400,000 additional jobs in the EU as a whole. What is more, Europe’s GDP is expected to grow by 0.24 % (some 35 billion Euro)”, it says.
The study makes a compelling case for renewable energy a way to secure our energy future and protect the environment. It also makes convincing predictions for its long-term economic feasibility. It does acknowledge the challenge ahead but reinforces it will pay off in the long term.
Special focus is placed on solar power and wind power. It says that by 2016, solar power generation could be costing around 16 and 20 cents per kilowatt hour. A recent study found that in 2010 newly installed solar photovoltaic (solar PV) projects in California were paid an average of approximately $0.34/kWh, or almost twice as much as the projection estimates the cost will be in half a decade.
Wind also gets some special attention. It already is relatively inexpensive and in some cases costs 5 and 9 to cents per kilowatt hour. Germany has huge amounts of land that could be used to supply more than half of its energy needs, or 390 terawatt hours of a total generation of 600 terawatt hours.
The report highlights that a decentralized energy system based on renewable energy coming from a large number of sources will require a different grid structure than the ones currently available. Intermittency will have to be compensated for with “quick intermediate energy supplies and control plants.”
Article by Antonio Pasolini, a Brazilian writer and video art curator based in London, UK. He holds a BA in journalism and an MA in film and television.