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Monday, October 20, 2014

7 Renewable Energy Lessons from Germany

Great article sent in by Seth Handy, one of our co-host.  Thanks, Seth.

Jennifer Runyon 
October 03, 2014

Jennifer Runyon is chief editor of and Renewable Energy World magazine, coordinating, writing and/or editing columns, features, news stories and blogs for the publications. 

Here's the intro: " On the occasion of Germany’s re-unification day, I thought it would be fitting to review some of the lessons I learned from Germany about renewable energy on a recent trip to the country. 
It would be hard to argue that Germany is NOT the renewable energy capital of the world in terms of developing a thriving industry that contributed more than 27 percent of renewable energy generation to the grid in the first nine months of 2014.  The industry also supports more than 378,000 jobs in the country and billions in economic activity.  Germany dedicated itself to clean energy in 2000 with the passage of the EEG – the renewable energies act, which kicked off the Energiewende energy transition.  The law has been continuously tweaked over the past 14 years with a key component coming in 2011 after fukushima when it decided that it would shut down all nuclear power by 2022. 
During the last week in September, I was invited to travel around eastern Germany to see renewable energy projects, interview entrepreneurs in the industry, visit companies, and enjoy a small taste of Berlin, the capital. From what I gathered there are very specific reasons that Germany has been successful at developing this thriving industry.  Our November/December issue will feature a more in-depth look at renewable energy in Germany but I wanted to share some of my initial impressions with you today.
Click through the following pages to see what I believe are important lessons that other countries can learn from Germany’s renewable energy example."
SOME HIGHLIGHTS:   1. Think Big, No Think Huge
On a drive through eastern Germany, you would have to be blind to not see wind turbines.  They dot the horizon of the relatively flat country in every direction and are clearly visible from every major road in the part of the country where I was traveling (the northeast). But driving between Altentreptow and Stralsund on the north shore you’ll see Enercon’s massive 7.5 MW-turbines, enormous structures almost 200 meters high (650 feet), with a rotor diameter of 127 meters (416 feet).  The blades seem to dance in the wind at speeds of up to 34 meters per second and capture more wind energy than any other onshore wind turbine on the market today.  These behemoth onshore structures serve as constant reminders to the people of the region that they are committed to a renewable energy future and their environment is cleaner because of it.

2. Take Advantage of Knowledge Transfer
When Gicon was commissioned to develop a floating wind turbine, it turned to the oil and gas offshore drilling industry for inspiration.  The first prototype that it developed weighed 1,500 tons, the second came in at 1,200 tons and the third, which is plans to deploy next summer, is down to 670 tons – less than half its first iteration.  The company employs 300 engineers and has taken over a portion of the Straslund-based Werft Nordic Yards shipyard, a fabrication facility that at its peak had employed more than 1200 welders before it went bankrupt in 2009.  Today, welders are literally breathing new life into the shipyard as they put together the prototype.  Gicon estimates that it could build one floating offshore wind platform per week and employ up to 1000 steelworkers doing it. Once the prototype is in place and the concept is proven, the company hopes it will partner with a major turbine supplier and deploy its cheaper and easier to install floating turbine in Japan, the U.S. and all over Europe...

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