I am not an activist. But I do feel part of a revolution. An Energy Revolution, to be precise. A revolution from fossil to renewable energy sources, from centralised to decentralised energy production, from big utilities to smaller cooperatives and even home-grown energy. As an independent energy consultant with a personal mission to contribute to a better, greener, sustainable world, I feel privileged to not only witness this revolution, but to be part of it.
When I worked in The Netherlands as the Public Affairs advisor of a district heating company, I worked closely with the CEO and managers in preparing an energy transition. Our mission was to become the most sustainable district heating system in The Netherlands. I was fascinated by the strategic and political aspects of this energy transition. What I loved most was to try and outwit vested interests and to “seduce” all stakeholders to support the change by making them see the future-proof value we were creating.
Now that I’m working as an independent energy professional in Brussels, the capital of Europe, I observe many EU member states in which many local, sustainable initiatives are developing. They may seem small and isolated at first, but together they form the forefront of a paradigm shift in the world of energy. You may notice or not, you may support or oppose – but this development can’t be stopped. For fossil fuel energy companies mitigation and innovation are not enough. What they need is transformation. They will either have to review their business model – i.e. start creating energy savings services and offer their customers energy generating services – or there will be no future for these companies.
The country where this movement is most visible is Germany. Germany decided to phase-out nuclear power and to replace it by renewable energy sources. The German Energiewende or energy transition is followed closely both at EU level and by EU member states. If Germany succeeds, many countries will follow. If Germany fails, both the European Union and individual member states might review their energy policies and stop (or not start) supporting renewable energy initiatives.
So far, Germany is doing a good job: it has a 25% share of renewable power and is on its way to pass the 35% renewable power target by 2020. The best way to tell the huge progress is the amount of lobbying by fossil utilities. They claim to be concerned for ‘fuel poverty’ and blame ‘high costs’ of renewable energy. They warn for ‘blackouts’ due to ‘intermittency’ of renewable energy. For that, green role model state Denmark has found several solutions: interconnection with neighbouring countries and thermal storage. By combining heat and power and implementing district heating infrastructure across the country, it has a track record for energy efficiency and decentralised thermal storage. Another solution is using geothermal power as renewable baseload.
Germany wants to create a club of countries working at an energy transition and France wants a European Energy Community. Meanwhile, the European Commission has called the EU Internal Energy Market as one of its top priorities. This includes programs such as a pan-European energy infrastructure and the harmonisation of renewable energy support schemes. The EU’s Energy Roadmap 2050 (which is actually just an Electricity Roadmap 2050) also indicates that Europe as a whole is working towards a giant European Energy Transition. Some of the actors in this transition are big, many are small. Together they are part of a revolution. Will you join the Energy Revolution, and help creating a sustainable future?
Alice Stollmeyer founded Stollmeyer Consultancy in May 2012 to contribute to a better, greener, sustainable world. She offers lobbying & advocating renewable energy and energy efficiency.