Renewable energies are the foundation of a better world

The investigative journalist Dr. Franz Alt is often called the “pope” of the renewable energies. Solar energy has always been his hobby horse. Here, he made major achievements. In 1994, he was awarded the first German and three years later the European Solar Prize. He talked to us about his vision of the energy transition.

Solardirekt: “Dr. Alt, the energy transition has become a winged word. Which countries are pioneers today? Why has Germany lost its competitive advantage in the last years?”

Dr. Franz Alt: „Until 2011/2012 Germany has been the trailblazer – thanks to the renewable energy regulation (EEG) which was introduced in 2000. Then, the pressure of the traditional energy concerns reared up and the German government surrendered. Since then, the EEG has become more complicated. During the last election period, the traditional energy companies had 44 meetings at the chancellor’s office and the Department of Trade and Industry. The representatives of the renewable energies only had four. The figures tell their own tale. In the last six years, Germany lost almost 70,000 jobs in the solar sector. Today, it is difficult to install a solar plant in Germany without the assistance of a counsellor. As a result, China, India, the USA, Iceland and El Salvador are the global pioneers of the industry.”

Solardirekt: „What will be the role of the PV industry in the future energy mix?”

Dr. Franz Alt: „It will play the major role. The sun is the biggest and a never-ending energy source. It is environmentally friendly and does not write invoices. The sun perfectly unites economical with ecological aspects. Every second, it sends 15,000 times more energy to our planet than we need. The supply will last for another billion years while the conventional nuclear energy carriers will only last for a few more decades. Also, they destroy our climate and especially the nuclear sources bear extreme risks. Worldwide, there is no dump to dispose of the nuclear waste. Solar energy hardly causes any waste and the raw materials which are needed for the technique can be recycled.”

Solardirekt: „In a nutshell: what are the advantages of PV compared to other renewable energies?”

Dr. Franz Alt: „Solar energy is the cheapest renewable energy source. Combined with wind and water power, with biomass and geothermal energy, we will be able to switch to renewable energy sources completely in 20 years and to ensure fair energy prices. Also, the energy transition is an important precondition for the other major problems we have: the refugee crisis, the hunger problems and the wars for oil – to mention but a few. All these problems depend on each other and the solution is in the sky. We only must open ourselves to the energy provided from above, by the boss himself. Yet, the energy crisis is a spiritual crisis, too. By connecting ethics and technology we will ensure the survival of our society. We will be able to ensure that kids will not starve any more. What a great chanc for a better world this is.”

Solardirekt: „Which countries are most promising for the renewable energy industry?”

Dr. Franz Alt: „ All countries – when we play the full symphony of the renewable energies. Every country can be 100% renewable. I have even seen solar plants in Greenland. “

Solardirekt: „What about the German PV companies compared to their international competitors? What are the most promising markets or sectors for them?”

Dr. Franz Alt: „Still, Germany is at the forefront of technology. Our engineers and technicians enjoy an excellent reputation worldwide. This is particularly true for solar technology, wind turbines and biogas plants. I am regularly participating inconferences in China and here I learn that the Chinese are pioneering the energy transition by employing German techniques. The energy transition is a big chance for the German economy, too. We are just not using it.”

Solardirekt: „What is your vision of the energy transition? “

Dr. Franz Alt: „In 2000, we produced around 5% ecological electricity. Despite all counterproductive manoeuvres of our government we have reached 37% by now. After the nuclear exit we need a quick coal exit strategy. Also, we have an immense backlog demand concerning the traffic and heath transition. Yet, our society is moving at a faster pace than our government. Around 90% of all people prefer a quick energy transition as the climate change is only a question of time. Therefore, I my hope on our energy associations, our utilities and local politicians, our craftspeople and medium sized companies, our farmers and house owners. The decentral energy transition can only happen bottom-up. Yet, as the traditional energy companies have much to lose, it will not be easy. Life punishes the latecomer. There is not doubt, that the future belongs to the renewable energies.”

Dr. Franz Alt