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 energy! Basic energy! Renewable energy! Solar energy! Without this main energy nothing would live, grow, move. Next to 100 per cent of the Earth’s energy that we use is solar energy. It provides the conditions for life, for food, for water, for growth and movement. The so – called ‘conventional’ energy forms such as oil, gas, coal and nuclear power provide less than 1 per cent of the Earth’s energy needs. In less than an hour

From centralized energy production to a global energy democracy

Figure 17.3 Albuquerque, New Mexico, 1 March 2008

Source: John Schaefer

the sun sends the energy onto the planet – or in one year onto 10 per cent of the Sahara’s surface – that corresponds to the world’s total power consumption.

What can we do? Sixty per cent of the so-called ‘conventional’ energy we use today is wasted. Optimal energy efficiency can replace these 60 per cent already. The remaining 40 per cent can be substituted by renewable energy that is available in abundance – if we are determined to do that. We have all the technical means to harvest renewable energy. This change of our energy system is a huge opportunity for the world’s economy as well. Millions of jobs will be created – jobs that make sense.

The new energy democracy needs the cooperation of all people on this planet and the political framework that favours renewable energy and energy efficiency. Not everybody can walk or go to sea for several months at a time. But everybody can figure out what individual steps they can make possible; after having read an interview about my SunWalk in the Navajo Time, a lady in a supermarket in Window Rock, NM, recognized me. She tells me: ‘I read about your SunWalk. I told myself: “if this 59 year old man can walk 3700 miles from LA to Boston, I can also walk from my home to the supermarket.” So this morning I walked for the first time to work and actually, I enjoyed it very much.’

More and more people believe in the transition to a 100 per cent renewable energy future and help to prepare it with their own steps. Together, with awe and enthusiasm for our miraculous planet, we will make it.