Tuesday, December 21, 2004

German solar energy development shows the way

While the U.S. resists the Kyoto Agreement and continues its dependence on fossil fuels, it is Germany that demonstrates real leadership for the planet. The San Francisco Chronicle reports on Germany's push for renewable power:

Muhlhausen, Germany -- A solar-power project built by a Berkeley company may point Germany toward a pollution-free future.

Set in the heart of Bavarian farmland, the 30-acre facility went online earlier this month, becoming the biggest solar energy plant in the world."
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"There's a huge amount of opportunity here in Germany because the government has created a system that encourages large installations," said Thomas Dinwoodie, chief executive officer of PowerLight Corp. of Berkeley, which built and operates the Muhlhausen facility and two other solar parks nearby.
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PowerLight's three Bavarian solar parks, consisting of 57,600 silicon-and- aluminum panels, will generate 10 megawatts of electricity -- enough to power 9,000 German homes. The amount of electricity produced is much less than power plants fueled by coal or natural gas, but with very low operating costs, the solar project is expected quickly to turn a profit while emitting zero pollution.
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"This is part of our commitment as a government, to make Germany the world leader in alternative energy and in taking action against global warming, " said Juergen Trittin, Germany's environment minister. "We are willing to do what is necessary."

The country is now the No. 1 world producer of wind energy, with more than 16,000 windmills generating 39 percent of the world total, and it is fast closing in on Japan for the lead in solar power. Wind and solar energy together provide more than 10 percent of the nation's electricity, a rate that is expected to double by 2020.

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