Category Energy Autonomy in Action

From centralized energy production to a global energy democracy

We are living in a transition time. The biggest part of energy production today is still controlled by a relatively small number of big corporations. The future will be different. In a decentralized energy democracy each citizen can become an energy producer.

The following argument can still be heard often: ‘it will be difficult to replace a big part of fossil fuels and nuclear energy by “alternative” energy’. ‘Alternative’ energy – is it really alternative? Without ‘alternative’ energy it would remain dark in the morning. The temperature on this planet would be minus 240°C. There would be no precipitation, no water and no food. There would be no life, no animals, no plants and no human beings. Earth would be a cold, black, dead planet.

‘Alternative energy’? No, main energ...

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100% renewable energy and energy efficiency: Number 1 priority

As a doctor I face situations where only one action is needed, individually and globally, for example, if a patient suffers from an arterial bleed there is only one thing that has to be done immediately – stop the bleeding, 100 per cent. If somebody has a cardiac arrest the life saving measure is to restore a heart rhythm that guarantees a sufficient blood circulation – without any delay.

I see climate change as a life threatening process at the global level – the symptoms include extreme weather conditions, rising sea level, reduction of the Gulf Stream circulation. A climate collapse may become possible. There is no cure for such a serious condition; therefore all efforts have to be invested into prevention...

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The joy of walking

In 1999 I walked from Konstanz, Germany, to Santiago de Compostela, Spain; in 2003 from Basel, Switzerland, to Jerusalem. The motto was ‘There is Enough Sun for All of Us’. I walked through the US, from Los Angeles to Boston.

Walking is a very simple way of travelling with renewable energy fuelled by food. I experience it also as a prayer with body and soul, connecting with Mother Earth, step by step. I discover how healthy walking is – if everybody walked one to two hours a day, didn’t smoke, only drank moderately and ate

The joy of walking

Figure 17.2 Sunwalk 2008: Martin Vosseler in Los Angeles on 2 January 2008

Source: Brad Graverson, Daily Breeze

a healthy diet, we could close a considerable part of our hospitals. I experience that what is good for me is good for the planet...

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Towards 100% renewable energy: Step by step

On 1 April 1975, the construction machines arrive in Kaiseraugst – 9 miles from the centre of Basel, Switzerland – for the construction of a nuclear power plant. Hundreds, later thousands of people – from all age groups, professions and political parties – become involved in the non-violent resistance against this project. The territory was occupied. The construction was stopped. In 1988, the project was abandoned.

Kaiseraugst was the beginning of my involvement with clean energy. Later, as a research fellow at Harvard Medical School in Boston, I was a student of Bernard Lown, the founder of IPPNW (International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, who were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize 1985)...

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100% Renewable Life: One Man’s. Journey for a Solar World

Martin Vosseler

Crossing the Atlantic with 100% solar energy

Imagine – waking up in a narrow hull of a solar catamaran, in a cove of the Rhine River near the German/Dutch border, on a foggy October morning. The air is filled with bird voices. When I crawl on deck I see thousands of wild geese, taking off in groups for their flight south, flying in V-shape formation. Or imagine a clear night on the Atlantic. The dog star is so bright that its light is reflected like a golden ribbon on the dark velvet of the ocean. Suddenly a splashing sound – a dolphin’s back emerges. The animal is dancing around our boat. Where it passes fluorescent algae are lighting up – microgalaxy floating in the dark waters.

What a wonderful unique planet we are living on: the perfectly shaped ball is exactly the ri...

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Difficult to calculate but very important: Embodied energy

There is a part of our energy consumption that we could not calculate and com­pare to a German reference family: embodied energy. This means energy that is needed for the production of goods that we use, for instance, for the installation of our house. A modern low-energy house consumes about one third of its life­cycle energy need during the construction phase alone. This energy is needed for producing the construction materials and for the construction itself. There are two ways of minimizing this energy: first, reducing the effective living space per person and, second, proper choice of construction materials.

The WOGENO cooperative has set limits on the apartment area per person and balances this by providing a number of collective facilities in its houses...

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Sustainable transport mix

In the transport energy sector, we consume about half the energy for our private mobility needs of the German reference family. Here, we profit first of all from the fact that we live in a large city with a well-developed public urban transport network. In particular, the sustainable urban development of the Messestadt Riem quarter has created short distances to schools, recreation facilities, shopping etc.

Our average annual mobility pattern is shown in Table 16.3. First of all, it is worth pointing out that we limit private air travel for the whole family to only once in five years. This was the typical average for the last 10-15 years and the usual destination was Southern Europe...

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We take showers as frequently as everybody does!

We may not heat our apartment by other than inherent and solar heat sources (body heat, waste heat from electric appliances and direct solar radiation through the windows), but we do not renounce the copious use of hot water. We do take showers as often as ‘normal’ people do! In fact, we do not save hot wa­ter use when compared to other households, despite hot water saving water taps that are installed as a standard component of all bathrooms and kitchens in our house. A main reason for this is that we use hot water to lower electricity con­sumption: our dishwasher and the wall-mounted hot steam cooker are directly connected to the hot water tap. But we also don’t waste water either.

However, as our house is connected to the DH network of our city quarter Messestadt Riem, and the e...

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