Marketing renewables

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Electricity from renewable energies will be regarded as a consumer good in much the same way as recycled paper or organically grown vegetables once more utilities introduce voluntary "green tariffs" for clean power, according to the German utility association VDEW. "In the future competitive electricity system, renewable energies will have an important position in marketing," says the VDEW's Joachim Grawe. He adds that small generators, too, "will be able to supply interested customers with renewables power with the help of third party access to the grid." Globally, he stresses that renewable energies, like nuclear power, "have a high profile in so called joint implementation," in which rich countries can offset their CO2 emissions by paying for reductions of emissions in poor countries. Grawe is sceptical, however, about the contribution made by renewable energies in creating new jobs. "The employment effects, in as far as they can be soundly determined, are in any case minimal. They can be just positive or just negative depending on how they are established," he says, referring to results of a study by Bremen's Energy Institute. The study was commissioned by VDEW, the nuclear friendly Forum für Zukunftsenergien, and the trade union supported trust, Hans-Böckler Stiftung. VDEW's conclusion contrasts with the wind industry's claim that since 1990 at least 5000 jobs have been created in the wind sector. German magazine Wind-Kraft Journal has even devoted a special issue to the employment created by some 50 companies with activities in wind.

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