Saturday, April 02, 2011

Renewable Energy is a Reality and not a Vision

Germany gains more energy from solar technology than Japan gains from all its nuclear reactors. Development in this area occurred much faster in the last years than many expected. Ten years ago no one would have believed we could gain 17 percent of our electricity supply from renewable energy. In the US the gigantic oil and nuclear industries dominate research and funding.

by Klaus Toepfer and Elmar Altvater

The catastrophe in Japan calls us to reflect about the energy concept of our government, ex-environmental minister Klaus Topfer says. Renewable energy is already a “reality.”

Taz: Mr. Topfer, as director of the Ethics commission, what advice can you give the political decision-makers on the nuclear exodus?

Klaus Topfer: In many areas acceptance of technology is derived from technical criteria. The effects of technology on readiness to take risks in society play a great role. The question is: do we want our prosperity based on technologies that when they fail have tremendous negative effects that can hardly be controlled?

Wasn’t this ethical question answered long ago in relation to nuclear energy?

These controversial questions have been discussed again and again. The catastrophe in Japan demands peremptorily that we reflect how nuclear energy in the past ended up putting in question other important goals of society. The exodus- and bridging process may not lead to additional emissions of CO2. This also may not put in question the economic competitiveness that is crucial for jobs and has been very successful in export. This must be seriously discussed in a broad social dialogue: how the bridging can be organized so an environmentally-friendly and competitive energy supply can be achieved with renewable energy. Setting up our commission could be a good signal for that bridging. Read More