For a long time I did not write anything because I did not want to accept the painful knee and the doubts about my project resulting from that pain. However, I have to face it, I hurt my knee already on the first day falling of the bicycle. It’s ok when I walk, but when I cycle it hurts.
The photos and videos I took, are not that good yet, which makes me just as worried as the painful knee, but I am very grateful that I got to talk to a lot of interesting people. As soon as I find the time to translate interviews, there will also be a section with interviews on this page.
I talked to Andreas Hoffmann, who built a passive house in Breisach, carpenter Reinhard Schwörer from Wyhl, who installs solar systems, Karin Schneider, Alma Spribille and Marco Tranitz who work for the Fraunhofer Institut for Solar Energy Systems in Freiburg and mit Georg Löser, who already built a self-sufficient house in 1987 and is not connected to the energy grid. I also went to the small town of Freiamt in the Black Forrest, where I talked to the mayor Hannelore Reinbold-Mench and to Ernst Leimer, who co-founded the association for the advancement of wind power in Freiamt. They told me how and why Freiamt can produce more electricity than they use. Check out the interview section of this website.
If you go to a rally while it’s raining, the issue is probably really important to you. Between 1000 and 3000 people (as always the numbers vary) took part in the rally for the energy transition, which formed in front of the municipal theatre of Freiburg and led through the city centre to a square called Augustinerplatz. „Stop coal and nuclear, we want wind and solar power“ the protesters shouted and carried their rain-soaked banners past the shops and the tramway in the city centre. The speakers of the rally Ursula Sladek (EWS Schönau), Prof. Eike Weber (Fraunhofer ISE) and Dieter Salomon (Mayor of Freiburg) carried the lead banner which showed the motto of the rally „Speed up the energy transition, don’t slow it down“.
In her speech Ursula Sladek explained how the new version of the Renewable Energy Law (EEG), as planned by the government, will threaten the participation of citizens in the energy transition, although the success of the energy transition has mainly been brought forward by citizens. Every other kilowatt hour from renewable sources comes from plants, that citizens either built themselves or together in cooperatives. The recent plans of the federal government threaten projects that are currently in the planning phase and for which citizens have invested a lot of money and committment.
A major issue of the rally was the rising electricity tariff and the renewable energy law (EEG) contribution. „They make us believe that power from coal and nuclear energy is cheaper than renewable energy. If you would make the external costs of these technologies as transparent on people’s electricity bills as the costs of the renewable energy, everybody could see already today that renewable energy already has a competitive price“, Ursula Sladek explained. She pointed out that the reneable energy law contribution and with it the price for electricity doesn’t go up because more renewable energy is produced, but the EEG contribution rises because large industries don’t have to pay the contribution and the price for electricity at the electricity market goes down because of the larger supply of wind and solar power. „If the new version of the EEG is implemented as planed, all existing coal plants, that are distroying the climate, will still be in use in 2030. None of them will be phased out. The nuclear phaseout will also be in question again“, Ursula Sladek adds and asks whether the government really wants the energy transition or whether the so-called „electricity tariff brake“ is actually meant to make the energy transition fail.
The main issue of Prof. Eike Weber’s speech was also the EEG contribution and solidarity concerning the EEG contribution. He also explained why the criticism against renewable energies grew at the same time that their success had grown: „Five years ago there was nobody who would say anything against renewable energyout loud. You had to pay 20 to 30 cent per kilowatt hour back then. That was terribly expensive. Good thing the climate activists looked after that. Today solar power costs half of what you pay for electricity from the grid, and that is the challenge for the large companies. That is the reason why a lot of money is mobilisied against the energy transition.“
Mayor Dieter Salomon addressed the success story of the energy transition in Germany and especially in Freiburg: „The term „Energiewende“ (energy transition) originates from Freiburg. The „Freiburger Ökoinstitut“ already demanded the energy transition in a book in 1980. The government’s energy transition now is about 30 years late.“ Looking back on many years and decades of protests he pointed out, that rallies like this one contributed to the development of renewable energy and are still necessary to show the government, how important the Renewable Energy Law is, which has already been successfully copied in 50 countries around the world.
Checking the news I saw that 30 000 people all over Germany took part in rallies for the energy transition on this day.
Why do I start my tour in Freiburg?
Freiburg is a good starting point for a journey across Germany following stories about renewable energies, not just geographically. The idea that the way energy is supplied using nuclear power and fossil fuels, needs to change, also has a long history in the area around Freiburg. Already in the 1970s the people in this region said „Nai hämmer gsait“ (= „We said no“) and successfully protested against a nuclear power plant in Wyhl. But the region is not only know for protesting but also for developing new solutions. More about that later.
I had to realise that the world famous Vauban quarter of Freiburg and the Solar Settlement the PlusEnergy houses and the Heliotrope have been presented in various media and visited by tourists to an extent that I can understand it has become too much for the people there. So I just assume that everyone reading this has a picture in mind of what the Sun Ship and the Heliotrope look like and that I don’t have to take the one 1 000 000th picture.
Tomorrow I’ll see how many people will join a demonstration for the „Energiewende“ and what they have to say about the current plans of the government to reform the Renewable Energy Act. As the demonstrations in seven provincial capitals are rather far away from Freiburg, a small group of committed citizens also announced a demonstration in Freiburg for the 22nd of March.