In the UK there is still the idea that renewable energy is nice and cuddly, great as a small part of the energy mix, but not reliable enough for people to have confidence that it could provide 100% of the energy for a modern economy. People still think that when the wind stops blowing and the sun stops shining there will be no electricity. An evolving mix of demand management, super and smart grids and a multitude of methods of energy storage are gradually solving these problems of intermittence and variability. (Last January I wrote on this blog about this and will write more on this subject over the next couple of months).
Today I want to write about one decision that demonstrates confidence in renewables perhaps better than any other, and that is the announcement by Deutsche Bahn that it will run its entire operation on renewable energy by 2050, and that it will increase the renewable percentage from 20% to 28% by 2014. They are investing in windfarms and solar panels and are buying in power from renewable energy companies. The German Rail system is the biggest in Europe and is one of the Continents’ very biggest power users. It has a reputation for reliability. Its decision to move toward 100% renewables has been very much lead by its customers. It’s what the German people want, and is considered technologically and practically achievable.
I wonder how long it’ll be before major power using companies in the UK or USA will have the confidence in renewables to make similar announcements, or how long before our citizens have the confidence to ask this of our industrial, commercial and infrastructure companies?
2 articles on the Deutsche Bahn announcement: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/08/22/us-germany-renewables-railways-idUSTRE77L2B920110822