Sunday, 8 January 2012

From coal to renewable energy

This is a guest post from Jutta Splettstoesser:

I still remember the days when the truck dumped a big load of coal on the
pavement in front of my parents house and the whole family worked together to
shovel it into the basement. When we were finished we had the fine black dust
everywhere and needed a long bath. Nobody on the street where I grew up heats
with coal anymore - those days are over. I'm sure that when you ask my dad, he
will tell you that he now enjoys the comfort of his gas furnace. He has a big shop
where the coal used to be stored and the air is much better in the winter.
Every time I go back to Germany I see a lot of change even in just a short timeframe
of 2 or 4 years. Coming from the airport in Duesseldorf I saw in 2009 a lot
of solar panels installed on residential houses. I admired the large 100kw solar
installation across the road on the dairy farmers new hay and straw storage. 65%
of all the investment from German farmers go into renewable energy. The
renewable energy project have guarantied grid access and are prioritized. This
month my brother in law will install 38 panels on his house in Georgetown. When
we got together for Christmas he thanked me for sharing all my knowledge with
him about the Micro-FIT program and that I pushed him to apply for it. Tom
pointed out that Canadian citizens aren't informed enough about the existing
opportunities. How everybody can make a real difference to help to “turn that
corner” on greenhouse gases, toxic waste and other forms of pollution and be
part of the energy revolution is very positive and powerful. Compared to other
sources, wind-energy is an environmental winner. Wind energy is emission-free,
consumes no water, produces no waste, has no hidden health cost and is 100%

As a teenager the odd wind turbine went up in our region but the first larger wind
parks were erected in Northern Germany. My dad keeps me updated on any
new development. He is and always was open-minded toward new technology
and energy options. For him things have to make economic sense and in the case
of renewables it does. More Germans are employed in the renewable sector than
in the auto industry. Dr. Hermann Scheer understood very early that by investing
into renewable energy we help the environment and the whole economy at no
extra cost. Since the German government decided on a new energy strategy
there will be more wind turbines built all over the country. My parents are very
ordinary citizens with a lot of common sense that are welcoming the wind turbines
into their backyard. They know of the study from the University of Kassel that
combined solar, bio gas and wind-energy and proved that it is possible to go
100% with renewable energy in the future.

“Any energy-planning conversations must begin with a commitment to robust
engagement and education, so that all those involved are well equipped to do
so, and so that the final products can be presented to-and ultimately supported
by-an informed Canadian public."  (1)

When I read the CFFO (Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario) commentary this 
week I asked myself when will people stop repeating widely discredited oil 
industry backed reports attacking the value of “Green jobs”?

Who is taking the time and continues the educational process that Friends of
Wind Ontario started in 2011?

When do the Canadian farm organizations start a partnership and dialog with the
farmers who have the experience, knowledge and confidence in developing citizen
owned wind parks?

1. “Built To Last: A Successful Energy-Strategy Design Process” Marlo Raynolds, Senior Advisor, Pembina Institute and Advisor to Tides Canada Energy Initiative March 14, 2011 page 4


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