Energy without end
Power, heat, fuel — The world is turning to energy from sources that flow forever.
Climate protection, supply reliability, energy independence, job creation. Many different objectives have driven the enormous growth being seen in the renewable energies markets. While the motivations and approaches adopted by protagonists at work all around the world might differ in detail, the bottom line is this: Over the long term the world will need more energy than the amount that can be generated with fossil fuels.
Atomic power is controversial in many countries. The great sources of hope are the renewables: sun, wind and water. In the thermal energy sector these are joined by biomass and geothermal sources. In 1991 Germany commenced government promotion of renewable energies with the adoption of the Act on the Sale of the Electricity to the Grid. The core tenets of this legislation have been adopted by many other countries in the meantime. The more recent Renewable Energy Act, a central instrument for expanding regenerative energy use, is celebrating its tenth birthday this year.The need for action remains high, however, since the need for renewable energy will become even more pressing in the future, especially in the industrialized countries. Thus, since April of 2009, an EU Directive (2009/28/EC) requires the member states in the European Union to enact laws encouraging the use of renewable energies in power generation, heat, refrigeration and transportation. By 2020 renewables are to cover at least twenty percent of totalenergy demand in the EU.
Efforts to expand renewables are thoroughly accepted in Germany. According to a public opinion poll conducted by Forsa in February 2010, 95 percent of the people in Germany deem the expansion of renewable energies to be either “important” or “very important”. The rates of increase are also quite respectable. Renewables’ contribution to the energy supply has almost quintupled between 1990 and 2007. In 2009 “Sun, Wind & Co.” covered about seven percent of Germany’s overall energy needs. By the year 2020 this value, as mandated by the EU standards, will have to rise to eighteen percent. That means there’s still a lot to be done — by government, science and industry.