I begin my travels staying with a good friend and her family in a small village in western Germany. Her brother Thomas now owns their house, the one in which they grew up. My friend Karin’s mother and her partner, and Thomas’s three daughters also live here. It is a small farm but there is still plenty of work for Thomas along with his job in a hospital.They have turkeys and chickens which they raise for meat, and sheep, cats and a dog, lots of fruit trees and a small garden.
Three years ago Thomas decided to purchase a large photovoltaic solar system to be installed on the roof of his barn, because of the German subsidies available at the time. His contract requires that the utility pay him almost twice the price of electricity per kwh, for any surplus power he generates, for 20 years. He has already made back a third of the cost of the system, and is so happy he made this decision even though it was difficult, costing him nearly a hundred thousand euros. The citizens must pay extra for their electricity to support this “energy subsidy”. Industry, who uses much more electricity, does not.
25% of all electricity in Germany is now renewable, most of that wind, blowing day and night. Thomas believes wind above all will save them from using nuclear and fossil fuel, which here is mostly coal. The people and government decided to phase out nuclear after Fukushima.
This state, Rheinland-Pfalz, has set its goal to be 100% renewable in 17 years, by 2030. Tschüss for now!