The German FIT: a revolution in renewable power

If Canada’s government was looking for a way to kick-start a renewable energy revolution, it should start by emulating Germany’s use of feed-in tariffs (FIT).

The German FIT, officially called the Renewable Energy
Sources Act, obligates electrical utilities to buy a certain amount of power from renewable energy sources. At the same time, it sets a high market price for those renewable sources, thus ensuring their continued and long-term ability to overcome any initial cost disadvantages.

For full background on the topic, check out Chris Turner’s excellent article – “Feed-in Frenzy” – from the Jan/Feb 2009 issue of The Walrus.

Turner points out that although Germany “…is not particularly windy and is kissed each year by
about the same amount of sunlight as southern Alaska, it is now a
global leader in the generation of energy from sun and wind.”

He offers some fairly startling evidence of the FIT policy’s success. The renewable energy
industry in Germany now employs “…about a quarter of a million people, and brought in
almost $40 billion in revenue in 2007, up 10 percent from 2006 and
nearly four times the figure for 2000.”

Canada, with our vast sun and wind resources, would be crazy to ignore these opportunities. Is Stephen Harper listening? What about Mr. Ignatieff?

1 Comment
  1. Viviane Broceliande

    As much as we need renewable resources for energy and anything to encourage this is a step in the right direction. One must be cautious however, when propelling any new technology as “better then oil”.
    Currently there are a few issues with Wind Energy that are making some people sick. Wind energy produced AC (alternating current) that needs to be converted to DC (direct current) in order to function in our homes. This conversion is currently being made with an imperfect technology that is producing high levels of Dirty Electricy or electrical pollution.
    This type of pollution is creating high frequency spikes in electricty along an otherwise smooth current. These spikes are causing problems in the Dairy industry across Ontario(lowering milk production, causing ulcers and miscarriages), as well as various ill health effects to the people living near the turbines.
    As well, when some wind companies install turbines on farmers land, they get the farmers to sign a contract allowing the wind company the first right to refuse sale of the land, essentially tying the farmers to land that should be their retirement fund and theirs to freely sell.
    There is a group currently demanding a closer look at the technology used for wind power; their website is:
    http://windconcernsontario.wordpress.com
    I feel that alternative energy resources are crucial to our country, but that the proper technology has to be used. We have the ability to make these tecnologies well but often cut corners for profit, even when it is green.

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