Paul Gipe Wants America to Get FIT
Look carefully at the above photograph. Notice the solar photovoltaic panels on the farm building? That could be a barn in Iowa or Indiana, but it isn't. It's on a farm in southern Germany; and it isn't at all unusual. There are tens of thousands of farms just like it, as well as hundreds of thousands of residences in rural and urban areas of the country with PV panels mounted on their roofs.
As a result of innovative government policy, Germany is not only a world leader in the solar PV industry, but also wind and biogas, says author and renewable energy advocate Paul Gipe. That policy is called Feed In Tariffs, and not only has it made Germany one of the top renewable energy producers on the planet, but it also has given the average Germany citizen the opportunity to get into the energy production business. Just in terms of PV installations alone, in 2009, German citizens installed 3,000 MW of solar power, 2,000 MW of wind and some 600 MW of biogas production. All totaled, Germany currently produces 100 billion kWh of renewable energy annually.
Ironically, like many good ideas, what started in California in the late 1970s as a way to stimulate the construction of its early wind farms at Altamont Pass, Tehachapi, and Palm Springs, migrated to Germany, was refined, and became the model for stimulating a world-class renewable energy industry.
In this 30+ minute telephone conversation, Gipe talks with EV World publisher Bill Moore about the role of Feed-In-Tariffs across Europe; especially in Germany, where the perception in the media of late is that the government there is having second thoughts about FITs. Gipe clarifies exactly what is happening there and why.
He also discusses the FIT program in Gainesville, Florida and the far more extensive initiative in Ontario, Canada, perhaps the most far-reaching effort of its kind to date. Since implementing the program in October 2009, Ontario has awarded $9 billion in renewable energy contracts: 20% of it going to home owners and community power projects in this first round.
Complete audio of the interview is available through either of the two MP3 players to the right, or you may download the file to your hard drive for transfer to and playback on your favorite MP3 device. More information in FITs is available on Mr. Gipe's web site: http://wind-works.org