Germany Powers Through U.S. in Solar Initiatives
(June 3, 2012) Last weekend, German solar power plants produced 22 gigawatts of electricity – equal to 20 nuclear power stations at full capacity – through the midday hours of Friday and Saturday, announced Norbert Allnoch, director of the Institute of the Renewable Energy Industry in Muenster.
This record breaking amount of power was then fed into the national grid on Saturday and met nearly 50% of the nation’s midday electricity needs, proving that solar can be a major, reliable source of power—even in cloudy Germany.
Germany leads the global pack in solar production. The United States is in fifth place, hardly a respectable showing considering that in the past, the words “innovation” and “America” were synonymous.
Has America lost its innovative and competitive edge?
One possible reason for our apparent reluctance toward solar energy was revealed in a recent article in the Huffington Post , that showed many large US corporations are playing both sides of the fence in regard to alternative energy development.
In the case of oil giant, Conoco Phillips and their campaign contribution track record, between 2002 and 2010, it contributed $697,551 to candidates who were against taking action on climate change and only $45,400 to candidates who promised to address it.
A number of major U.S. corporations that publicly acknowledge the threat of global warming are also members of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a stealthy lobby group that ghostwrites legislation to scuttle climate change initiatives. Included in this group of apparent fence-sitters are ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, General Electric, Marathon Oil and Peabody Energy.
In addition and for the past decade, the Federal government, through the U.S. Bureau of Land Management has operated a first come, first served land leasing program that is supposed to foster the development of solar energy on Federal government lands.
According to a September 10, 2010 Associated Press release, many large companies and corporations had bought into the idea, although to this day, not a single acre has been developed.
While the companies holding the rights to the land cannot sell their stake to another company, if the company holding the rights is bought up by another company, those land rights follow to the new company and do not revert back to government control.
Goldman Sachs, the investment bank, jumped into the giveaway and one of its subsidiaries has filed 52 of the 354 applications for the rights. Goldman, not known for their environmental stewardship, recognized the value of these land stakes, according to the AP and for a relatively small investment tie up valuable real estate assets presumably until a suitable buyer comes along.
To date, Goldman and its subsidiary have not filed any plans for any solar facility development.
So, what are we doing about developing solar power, while four other, oil-less countries are well on their way to complete self-sufficiency?
It seems that we waste a lot of our time – at least where Congress is concerned, bickering about how to cut government spending and in the ongoing debate about family planning and abortion.
Where Germany is concerned there remains a strong sense of social and civic responsibility, as there is in many older European countries. Even though solar power is a little more expensive, recent polls show that German citizens are willing to pay the price.
In America, we often talk the talk, but when it comes to paying more for energy, we never walk the walk. We simply don’t walk.