Starnberg, Germany, April 12th, 2011
Dear Frau Chancellor Merkel, dear Ms. Lübbe, dear Ms. Reisch, dear Ms. Schreurs, dear Mr. Toepfer, dear Mr. Beck, dear Mr. von Dohnanyi, dear Mr. Fischer, dear Mr. Glueck, dear Mr. Hacker , dear Mr. Hambrecht, dear Mr. Hauff, dear Mr. Hirsche, dear Mr. Huettl, dear Mr. Marx, dear Mr. Renn, dear Mr. Vassiliadis!
“In the light of the events in Japan, it is imperative that the risks of nuclear energy be re-evaluated. The task is, to establish a national energy strategy that will have to be accepted by the entire society as a guideline for the next decade…” This challenge has been handed over to you by the German Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel as members of the German Ethics Commission “Save Energy Supply”.
Please allow me to support your work a little by providing a few figures which may already be known but contain high potential for immediate improvements. Surprisingly, these facts and figures are neither questioned nor discussed by so-called expert groups. Also media representatives and other groups are quite disheartening in considering their immense significance.
This should not stay as it is, due to the fact of the importance of the topic.
A new energy strategy, which you are now being asked to create, is urgently needed. However, it can only be done based on a clean state analysis of the actual status of the existing energy infrastructure. According to the BDEW*, the German electricity grid as of March 22, 2010 is an incredible 1.783.209 Kilometers (more than 1.000.000 miles) long. This length corresponds to four times the distance from the Earth to the Moon.In addition, more than 550,000 transformers (substations) are needed to keep this grid-network running in order to transfer electricity from the source of production (still mostly coal-fired power plants) to the consumers in industrial, domestic and Small and Medium Enterprises (SME`s). Here, I would like to ask you for your judgment by “common sense”. This inefficient archaic system, which was set up in the 1890s, has only been even marginally improved since then, it should not further be supported by additional network expansion. Please ask yourself the question, who will benefit from any modifications to make this grid smart.
Additionally, according to the German Working Group on Energy Balances (Arbeitsgemeinschaft Energiebilanzen e.V.), the conversion losses (consumption and losses in the converting sector, flare and cable losses in the grid) in the German electricity generation in 2008 (newer figures not available) was 141.6 million tons of hard coal units (1million tons of Coal Equivalents (CE) = 29.308 Petajoules). That number alone does not offer much insight. The total energy use in all German households amounted to 87.3 million tons CE. In addition, in trade, commerce, services and other industries, additional 49.2 million tons of CE were used. The total energy consumption of all these consumer groups put together amounts to 136.5 million tons CE, which is far less energy than the losses in the German power generation and transmission process.
One of the major “flaws” of our current energy infrastructure among other things, is the fact that electricity from renewable energies in Germany (hydroelectric since 1891 and wind power since 1870s) in the electricity industry has always been treated like electricity from normal power plants by feeding it into the inefficient grid. This has always made little or no sense physically. Also, the so-called smart network doesn’t really help. We need many more intelligent solutions. And they are there.
What you now have, dear members of the Ethics Committee is the wonderful opportunity to put forth a truly genuine, decentralized, dedicated and small-scale energy system. With this, I mean that the energy is only to be converted where it is actually needed. Not even a single (old or new) nuclear, coal or gas power plant would be needed to supply the energy actually required in Germany. But all this is achievable only if the sources are used “by their nature”, depending on local existing renewable sources of energy. They have to be used locally within a maximum radius of 15 kilometers. Requiring only small storage capacity, these autonomous units can therefore also be utilized to cover all transportation services in Germany, too. The necessary facilities should in each case be used and operated locally and above all, they have be owned by the consumers. This changes the consumer behavior in households, SME`s industry and transport automatically in the right direction. The savings will be based on the close relationship of converting and using power independently.
This system will be the most efficient and also the most secure energy supply system. It can propel Germany to the forefront of the Renewable Energy race in the coming years, alleviating today`s fears of dependence on uncertain foreign and expensive supplies of imported fossil fuels. With “Out of the Box” thinking and new infrastructures like the one mentioned here, we can save more energy than our collective imagination may allow us to believe.
As a next step, we will need strong and responsible individuals who understand how to transfer these ideas to our population, bringing them to discussions on open and unbiased forums. The concepts can then be implemented quickly and locally. All the necessary components and processes for this transition phase are in part known for years and already exist. What is needed is to provide “only” the meaningful connections to create a new and much better picture.
Dear members of the Ethics Commission “Secure Energy Supply”, please let make use of this unique historical chance to achieve a quantum leap in our energy economy. In the past, perhaps the officials lacked the courage to implement such drastic changes. The time has now come. However, I wish you to have the power to achieve these worthy results in the time available to you which will impact many subsequent generations to come. Many thanks for your personal efforts in this matter. Future generations will be thankful to you.
For further information, I am at your disposal.
Founder of the Group Exhibit Hydrogen and Fuel Cells (in 1995)
at the annual Hannover Fair in Germany
More about Evers new book The Hydrogen Society…more than just a Vision?
The Ethics Commission “Secure energy supply” is headed by former German Federal Environment Minister and current founding Director (since 2.2. 2009) of the Institute for Climate Change, Earth systems and sustainability, based in Potsdam, Klaus Toepfer and the President of the German Research Foundation, Matthias Kleiner. Chancellor Angela Merkel appointed as additional members:
Ulrich Beck, a former sociology professor at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich
Klaus von Dohnanyi (SPD), former Federal Education Minister
Ulrich Fischer, Bishop of the Evangelical Church in Baden
Alois Glück (CSU), President of the Central Committee of German Catholics
Jörg Hacker, president of the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina
Jürgen Hambrecht, CEO of BASF
Volker Hauff (SPD), former Federal Minister for Research and Technology
Walter Hirche (FDP), President of the German Commission for UNESCO
Reinhard Huettl, Chairman of the German GeoForschungsZentrum Potsdam and President of the German Academy of Science and Engineering
Weyma Lübbe, Philosopher, member of the German Ethics Council
Reinhard Marx, Archbishop of Munich and Freising
Lucia Reisch, Economist, Professor at the Copenhagen Business School, member of the Council for Sustainable Development
Ortwin Renn, Risk Research, Sociology Professor, Chairman of the Sustainability Advisory Board of Baden-Württemberg
Miranda Schreurs, American Political Scientist, head of the Research Centre for Environmental Policy at the Free University of Berlin
Michael Vassiliadis, Chairman of the Mining, Chemical and Energy
* The quoted Federal Association of Energy and Water Industries (BDEW) e.V., Berlin, is since October 2008 led by the Chairman of the Executive Board, Ms. Hildegard Mueller. Ms. Mueller is wired well with the Federal Chancellery; she was from 2005 to 2008 Minister of State in charge of the Federal Chancellor and the federal-state coordination of the federal government in Berlin, Germany.
The BDEW represents some 1,800 companies. The spectrum of members is ranging from local and municipal to regional to national companies. They represent about 90 percent of electricity sales, a good 60 percent of the local and district sales, 90 percent of natural gas sales and 80 percent of drinking water funding and about a third of the wastewater disposal in Germany.
Dr. Klaus Toepfer at the Hannover Fair 2003:
Interview with Dr. Klaus Toepfer at the Hannover Fair 2003:
Dr. Angela Merkel at the Hannover Fair 2006:
Video with Dr. Angela Merkel at the Hannover Fair 2006:
Information regarding the German electricity grid:
Information regarding the energy balance in Germany 2003 in comparison with 2007:
My sincere thanks for helping with the translation go to:
Srikanth Honavara-Prasad, MS in Mechanical Engineering, San Fransico, USA,
Robert (Robbie) Mackay, Managing Director at VeMarine Ltd Thurso, United Kingdom
Juan Martínez-Vázquez, Energy Ambassador, Paris, France and:
Peter Kindzierski, Managing Director at ISCEER, Malaga, Spain
Thanks also to:
Heinz Sturm, Europaen CompetenceCenter for Energy & Environmental Transfer, Bonn, Germany