Word that the United States set a record for installing solar photovoltaic panels in the first quarter of 2012 is all over the news (here and here and here). And rightly so. While this is good news, it is important to see the accomplishment in context. Feeling complacent? Check out the graphic below.
The take home message is: Lookin’ good, America. Could be lookin’ a whooooole lot better.
For three weeks in late April and early May, I traveled throughout Germany* researching that country’s energiewende, literally, “energy change” — a transformation from a fossil-fuel economy to a renewable-energy economy (that produces only small amounts of green house gases). Germany has by no means completed the transition. But it is on the way.
Most remarkably, especially coming from the United States where politics has become polarized and toxic, Germany’s ambitious goal is supported by all major political parties. The only debate is over how to get there and how fast to go.
In the coming weeks, I’ll be publishing a series of articles about the Energiewende tour (as I like to think of it) at InsideClimate News. Later the articles will be expanded into a multi-media eBook, with photos, videos, slideshows with narration and recorded interviews with some of the major actors in Germany’s attempt to build an economy that is both environmentally and economically sound.