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?