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Interview: Hermann Scheer, German pioneer in renewable energies

The veteran parliamentarian was the chief architect of Germany’s feed-in tariff, an incentive program to foster the development of green-power production.

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Hermann Scheer, the Chairman of the World Council for Renewable Energy speaks in March at the 2008 Washington International Renewable Energy Conference.

REUTERS/Larry Downing/NEWSCOM

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Correspondent Mariah Blake recently talked with Hermann Scheer, a veteran member of German parliament who pioneered the country’s feed-in tariff – an incentive program that fosters the spread of green energy by requiring utilities to buy electricity from renewable sources at premium rates. Here are excerpts from the interview. For more on how Germany has become a global leader in wind and solar power, see related story here.

When you originally came up with your energy plan, even Greenpeace felt your targets were too ambitious. What made you so sure it could work?
The driving idea was that the main problem was not the development or availability of technologies. The main problem was the barriers of the conventional power structures – the monopolization of the energy supply by large power companies and the legal framework, which was designed to their interest.

The big energy companies have too many vested interested in sticking with conventional energy sources. They will never be the driving force behind renewables. If we change to renewables this huge industry will disappear.

We need a special renewable energy market, an open market for renewable energies. And we need to privilege them because what has no emissions, what doesn’t touch the climate, what doesn’t touch the health of the people, has a higher value for society. Giving renewable producers a privileged rate is a way to compensate for the ecological damage created by the power companies, which they don’t have to pay for.

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