Hermann Scheer, Member of the German Parliament, President of the European Association for Renewable Energy EUROSOLAR, Chairman of the World Council for Renewable Energy WCRE, honored with, amongst other prices, the Right Livelihood Award, died on 14 October 2010 at the age of 66 in Berlin.
In 1999, Hermann Scheer won the Right Livelihood Award for his tireless work for the promotion of solar energy worldwide. When he received the award, he described solar energy as "the energy of the people." And that is the difference between Scheer and many other renewable energy advocates: he knew energy has a political dimension and is therefore a tool to 'empower people' (see the quote on Desertec below). He also was very clear that the transition to renewable energy will not only bring about ‘winners’ but also ‘losers’, and that those were the ones where opposition would come from.
What follows are a few excerps from a rush transcript of an interview Scheer gave, only a few weeks before his death, to Democracy Now!
“The tragedy of our present civilization is that it became dependent on marginal energy sources. The marginal energy sources are fossil sources, fossil resources and nuclear, based on the raw material uranium. The gigantic energy potential is the renewable energy potential always all coming from the sun, including its derivates, like wind and the photosynthetic-produced—photosynthetically produced materials, organic materials, plants, hydro-base. And the sun offers to our globe, in eight minutes, as much energy as the annual consumption of fossil and atomic energy is. That means to doubt—the doubtings if there would be enough renewable energy for the replacement of nuclear and fossil energies, this argument is ridiculous. There is by far enough. (…)
Many people, including governments, including many scientists, who get their orders for studies from them, they believe and think that the present energy suppliers, the present energy trusts, the companies, they should organize the transformation. And this is a big mistake—a big mistake—because this part of the society is the only one who has an interest to postpone it. The only one. All others, all the others, have an interest to speed it up. But as long government think that it should be left to the energy companies, we will lose the race against time. (…)
It is a fight. This is a structural fight. It is a fight between centralization and decentralization, between energy dictatorship and energy participation in the energy democracy. And because nothing works without energy, it’s a fight between democratic value and technocratical values. And therefore, the mobilization of the society is the most important thing. And as soon as the society, most people, have recognized that the alternative are renewable energies and we must not wait for others, we can do it by our own, in our own sphere, together in cooperatives or in the cities or individually. As soon as they recognize this, they will become supporters.
From a press release by Hermann Scheer, 13 July 2009: "The Desertec project “Power for Northern Europe from the Sahara desert" is a Fata Morgana. The initiators know: There is no prospect of success. But for all that Desertec could be a good idea indeed. If the aim were to enable the Sahara countries to make the transition to energy generation completely from renewable sources, I would fully agree to the Desertec plan. The EU would make both an essential contribution towards stable economic and social prospects for the southern Mediterranean countries and to fighting climate change. Given their solar and wind power potentials, these countries would even be able to completely move to renewable energy for their electricity supply within less than 20 years. The beneficial effect to their economies would be much stronger compared with exporting power to Europe. (…)
Desertec advocates must also answer another crucial question: Where will happen the value add of renewable energy in future. There is a fundamental difference depending on whether renewable energy is produced in a decentralized manner and, the value add therefore is distributed to the decentralized producers, or whether it is produced by large utilities in a few large power stations concentrating the monopolistic value add."
The whole September 2010 Democracy Now! interview is available at: http://www.democracynow.org/2010/10/15/hermann_scheer_1944_2010_german_l...