Climate change has quickly become one of the world’s top concerns, with more than half of the global population believing climate change is a serious problem. Despite having the best intentions, many countries are facing difficulties in their attempts to become more sustainable and energy-efficient. There doesn’t seem to be one direct solution to global climate change, but instead, a multitude of smaller actions that must be coordinated on an international level. The politics, science, logistics, and financing involved have made a planet-wide green effort seem almost impossible.
Fortunately, some countries have refused to give up. Germany’s own energiewende, an energy revolution, has made it a world leader in green policies and fuel technologies.
Hearts in the Forest
There’s a popular myth that the German people originated from the dark heart of a black forest. Supposedly, it was first invented by the Roman historian Tacitus and later exaggerated by German Romantics in the 1800s. Regardless of the story’s authenticity, ethnographer Albrecht Lehmann noted that during the extreme turmoil of the 1900s the myth remained a stable core of the German identity. The forest became a symbol of calm and tradition, intrinsically linking the German people to the environment.
In the late 1970s, fossil fuel emissions were blamed for the acid rain that was killing German forests. The threat of waldsterben, forest death, and the oil embargo of 1973 forced the Germans to seriously consider alternative energy sources. In 1975 local farmers and students occupied the build site of what was to be a nuclear power plant that would power the city of Freiburg. The government insisted that the plant be built or the lights in the city would go out. Protesters stood their ground for ten years and the government was forced to abandon its plans. Instead of losing power, Freiburg became a solar city.
Germany opposes the use of nuclear power as much as it does fossil fuels. Even though Chernobyl was hundreds of miles away the fallout still affected the Black Forest. The meltdown of Fukushima in 2011 led German Chancellor Angela Merkel to announce that Germany would shut down all 17 of its nuclear reactors by 2022; nine have been switched off so far and renewable sources have been more than enough to make up for the loss.
Over the past several decades Germany has been implementing policies and procedures that promote environmentally sustainable growth, many of which incentivize the process for its citizens. In 2010, jobs in the renewable energy field employed almost 340,000 people; Germany’s coal industry employed roughly 50,000 at that time. Furthermore, the Renewable Energy Sources Act enacted in April 2000 created a feed-in tariff policy specifically for renewable and energy-efficient technologies.
These multiple, small, beneficial policies allow Germany to continue to move forward today, evidenced by its economy’s relative strength compared to many of its European neighbors. Public support for the energiewende is at 92%. Roughly 27% of Germany’s electricity came from renewable sources in 2014 and the goal is to move that number up to 80% by 2050.2 The overwhelming civilian support will play an important part in reaching that goal.
A Worldwide Effort
The German battery company Sonnen is working to spread the country’s green attitude around the globe, selling residential solar batteries to foreign markets, including the U.S. These batteries work with existing home solar systems to save, collect and store energy during peak hours of usage.
Sonnen operates across the United States through local partner sonnenBatterie Centers and has teamed up with specialists in multiple regions, including Renova Solar in California, to provide quality expertise and service. Each partner carries Sonnen’s eco compact and eco protect battery models.