RIP Hermann Scheer

Renewable energy pioneer Dr Hermann Scheer has passed away on October 14 in Berlin. Scheer was President of the European Association for Renewable Energy (Eurosolar), Chairman of the World Council for Renewable Energy (WCRE), winner of the Alternative Nobel Prize and Member of the German Bundestag. He was 66 years old.

Scheer entered the German parliament as a Social Democrat member in 1980 and was instrumental in introducing Germany’s solar roof programmes and the Renewable Energy Law. The Renewable Energy Law included the now widely replicated feed-in tariff. As a result a substantial percentage of the world's wind farms and its solar panels are located in the country.

Along with his political work, Scheer also wrote a number of books such as "The Solar Strategy," "A Solar Manifesto" and "The Solar Economy" and created a film, "The Fourth Revolution — Energy Autonomy".

Scheer was vigorously opposed to nuclear power and advocated small scale, distributed power generation over large scale, centralised power generation schemes.

Scheer was vigorously opposed to nuclear power and advocated small scale, distributed power generation over large scale, centralised power generation schemes.

I salute Dr Scheer and his vision to which I myself subscribe. I have seen with my own eyes what he has accomplished in Germany. RIP!

So you're proud of the fact that Germany made the largest investment into solar power which cost tens of billions of dollars, but only got Germany 1% of it's demand?

You work for the lignite industry?

You work for the lignite industry?

Son, to do your moniker a modicum of justice you at least need to be on the far right end of the IQ bell curve.

You are obviously clueless about what is happening in Germany or how decentralized solar energy production fits into their overall plan. Hint when the power goes out it's better to have a little light than no light at all.

On the off chance that you are actually capable of reading German you might read the German Bundeswehr's report on Peak Oil to understand how solar fits into their overall plan.

While your at it perhaps you should consider changing your moniker... just substitute dumb for smart!

"when the power goes out it's better to have a little light than no light at all."

The video posted here didn't promise a "little light". It promises "over 100%" replacement of fossil fuel BTUs with renweables, sans nukes. I think the idea of doing that has been thoroughly debunked in these parts. I can root for bright green environmentalism but I don't think the laws of physics will oblige. Powerdown is inevitable.

Perhaps you understand physics but you don't understand politics, Sheer was a politician who wanted to start a country down the path to change and he did that. BTW I understand physics and I work with solar. As for 100% replacement of fossil fuels once those are 100% unavailable to most people there will be 100% replacement... what most people don't get is that it will be a different less energy intense world at that point but it seems I waste far too much time belaboring the obvious. Sigh!

I get it that *POWERDOWN* is inevitable and that no mix of renewables will ever support BAU unfortunately no politician can as yet win on that platform. What do you think would happen if a politician actually told Americans the truth?

I don't think my personal motto would be very popular with most of them either. I can't see any politician promoting this and winning either. Too many people are clueless and in denial, witness the idiots who make up the Tea Party and think their rights will be infringed if they have to use less energy, but they will, they just don't know that it might not mean the end of the world, only the end of the world as they've known it...

Ride a bike or take a hike

The more I learn about Dr. Scheer the greater the heartbreak and depth of loss felt. The necessity to dwell on the aspect of inspiration becomes apparent, as a balm, as a duty. My vision of a life well lived, RIP indeed! - g

Dr. Scheer was true visionary and one of the very few German politicians that were not only working for there very own interest. (..and bank accounts) Also he was one of the last politicians in German parliament that have an idea of a sound energy polity. (Others like Dr. Berg from my hometown weren’t re-elected.) Renewable energy will have some hard time in Germany. Truly a sad day… RIP!

I wonder if we will see a comment from Hannes Kunz, author of the "Fake Fire Brigade" series of articles, as it sounds like Hermann Scheer was one of the leading European proponents of what Hannes considers fake fire brigades.

I picked up the Amy Goodman interview with Scheer over at Energy Bulletin. By all accounts Scheer did a lot of good work with solar, but it seems that he was deluded in his evaluation of the extent to which solar could replace the energy currently provided by oil, NG and coal, as well as nuclear. Consider the following quote from the Amy Goodman interview:

"And the sun offers to our globe, in eight minutes, as much energy as the annual consumption of fossil and atomic energy is. That means to doubt—the doubtings if there would be enough renewable energy for the replacement of nuclear and fossil energies, this argument is ridiculous. There is by far enough."

Nowhere in the interview is mentioned the issues of the diffuse nature of this vast amount of solar energy hitting the Earth, nor the difficulties and limitations involved in capturing, transporting and storing that energy. It sounds as though he is entirely ignorant of these issues, or has chosen to just blow them off. Seeing how he has been involved with promoting solar for several decades, it would seem that he must be aware of all this, so for some reason he has chosen to ignore it.

That being said, it seems that Scheer has accomplished a quite a bit in Germany. If the West had taken the Arab Oil Embargo of '73-'74 as a wake-up call and started implementing Scheer's ideas, we would be in a somewhat better position than we are, but the idea that solar can completely replace all our fossil and nuclear based energies and maintain our BAU governments and economies is, in my opinion at least, utterly delusional.

Antoinetta III

I expect that he knew the true score on the short to medium term realities of solar versus fossil fuels,but found it necessary/expedient to pretend otherwise , due to the nature of the game involving leaders and followers.

People won't follow a leader who is prone to telling the unvarnished truth.

This fine man undoubtedly can be partly credited with causing the German nation to be considerably in front of nearly everybody else in solar energy;and while the toral; generated today is still miniscule in relation to total use, it can be of the very highest marginal value, and will be priceless in the future.The real long term value is that the industrial base is now firmly established, and production is growing rapidly;and every panel is going to be worth its wieght in gold , figuratively, when affordable coal, ng, and oil supplies dry up-which will be happening within the lifetimes of many of us.

But I fear he made a mistake in opposing nuclear power;despite its drawbacks , it might still make the difference between survival of our civilization as we know it, and descending into a new dark age as the result of a combined effect of a lack of energy and resource wars.

I just hope like hell that renewables can ramp up fast enough to prevent an outright collapse due to resource wars which seem inevitable to me;and I believe it is technically possible that the transition could be managed successfully;but the odds of a peaceful transition are very, very slim.

Put me in the fake fire brigade as a practical matter.

To your points I'd have to say that Nuclear is FAR more vulnerable to collapse than a lot of rooftop-installed solar. Those will generate power, each independently, and heedless of the state of the Roads, of access to Financing and the daily financial support by Grid Demand, the availability of trained labor-pools to keep reactors running. Nuclear is vulnerable to all of those, to political sentiment, to the availability of very specialized replacement parts and specialized personnel... much longer odds, I'd say.

Once the solar PV is in, it can keep providing, almost completely independent of outside events. (Clearly, the grid-tied inverters that aren't equipped for Parallel use, ie, Battery Backup, don't apply.. but in a blackout, the panels above those are still generating, and even marginally handy people will be able to learn how to use the DC power from some of them, or find a neighbor who can help them get set up for off-grid generation)

If you have this kind of collapse no one is going to keep manufacturing solar panels, as it is vulnerable to to the availability of very specialized equipment and specialized personnel...

This is completely part of my point. (and of course it depends on how thorough a 'Collapse' it is,)

Within a deep and fast collapse, a house or a town or region largely equipped with PV or Wind will still have some access to electrical power, even if some systems get sabotaged, others stolen, this 'Horribly Diffuse' source will still function, while a Home or Community heavily dependent on Nuclear, NG or Coal.. without a meaningful local option is on the kind of tenuous umbilical that makes us vulnerable in numerous ways today.

I don't think a collapse will necessarily be uniform across the globe, so I don't believe that ALL PV mfg will just go offline, but a PV panel made in Japan or Sweden can be traded and brought to any part of the world, unlike the power from a surviving Reactor.

As international sources of food and energy wind down, regions will end up reflecting the assets that remain close to home. PV Factories may well shutter all over the place, but since their product is now solidly shown to provide power independently and for decades, there will be PV arrays that are still producing for MANY years to come, where someone was smart enough to install them, whether they are near a lucky reactor and a consistent cooling water supply or not.. This buys them time, or at least a number of very useful options that those who don't have regular Electrical Power will be missing. Refrigerated Food Storage, Water Pumping, Lights, Communications (Radios and Telephones can be made to similarly last for decades, and can be cobbled together from the abundance of discarded Transistors and other components in our Mountains of E-waste..) Sensors and Measurement tools, Automated equipment that allows people to sidestep redundant chores and keep focused on other pressing needs.

As I've said before, Nuclear proponents like to remind us of how Nuclear provides continuous power, or 'Baseload Supply'.. but for the reasons I've cited, I also contend that Nuclear also REQUIRES continuous and steady inputs and operating environments if it is to survive.

What are the odds?

Hi Johkul,

As usual, you make a lot of good points;as for me, my position is that given reality on the ground, we need to go flat out, to whatever extent we can, in building BOTH solar and nuclear.

Niether option will be funded to an adequate extent to replace the coal and natural gas we are burning now.

Pushing both options is imo likelier to result in greater security, reliability, and economic productivity, that concentrating on either one exclusively.

It seems reasonably likely to me that we will by setting priorities and rationing scarce resources that we will be able to keep the grid up and functioning, for the most part at least, for the indefinite future.

And while I do believe storage technology will continue to advance,and the cost of solar to fall, one medium size nuke can run one hell of a lot of heat pumps and keep one hell of a lot of sunk cost conventional infrastructure up and running.

One day, some day, I will be able to buy an affordable refrigerator that can run on solar,which will stay cold during a week of bad weather-it might have an ice reservoir built in, or a battery, or whatever.

A nuke can keep my EXISTING fridge humming... and the furniture plant where my nieghbor works operating on a steady schedule.

"Within a deep and fast collapse, a house or a town or region largely equipped with PV or Wind will still have some access to electrical power"

And since few people consider a fast collapse possible, and those that do have no money due to the economy, what you see today as far as off-grid housing is pretty much all you're going to see.

Thanks Big Gav. I wish there were more like him.

Amy Goodman had a long interview with him recently (video and transcript)

which we reposted

Bart / Energy Bulletin

Thank for the links Bart.

Benoit Mandelbrot also died this week; think Fractals and Fat Tails.

My brother also died this week.

Tough week all in all ...

I very much liked Benoit Mandelbrot's The Misbehavior of Markets. The ideas are great. I know I read it back when it first came out in hardback.

Very sorry to hear about your brother.

Hey Steve Sorry about your brother! I was a long time fan of Mandelbrot so that is also a big loss.
I had a death in my family as well on Tuesday... A cousin of mine, she was only 45 but had been sick for a while.

deepest condolence SVerg.
best to you.

Dear Steve,

My deepest condolences as well.

It takes two men to make one brother.  ~Israel Zangwill

With dewdrops dripping, 
I wish somehow I could wash 
this perishing world 
- Basho

Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.

- Lao Tzu


Sorry for your loss.
The grim reaper is no joke when he knocks on the front door of your own home.
We kid around about it from time to time here on TOD, but loss of family and friends is always painful and leaves a pothole in the heart that never gets filled right again. Sad.

Solar Industry Fights to Save Subsidies

But lawmakers have overshot the mark by far, at least when it comes to subsidies for solar energy. Anyone who installs solar panels benefits from guaranteed feed-in tariffs for the next 20 years. That means that, over a 20-year period, Germany's electricity customers will pay a total of around €14 billion in subsidies -- just for the solar panels that were installed in 2009. And that cost is likely to rise in the future, because Germans are mounting more and more solar collectors on their roofs. Economists estimate that all the solar panels installed by 2013 will cost German consumers more than €70 billion. Thanks to the generous subsidy program, crops on some fields have been replaced with arrays of shimmering, bluish modules mounted on automated stands and tilted toward the sun. And all of this is being done for an amount of electricity that meets only 1.1 percent of German demand.

Exacerbating the political situation is the fact that 40% of the panels are installed in Bavaria, so the subsidy flow is from the north and east to the south.

That means that, over a 20-year period, Germany's electricity customers will pay a total of around €14 billion in subsidies -- just for the solar panels that were installed in 2009.

So what? The 2009 profits of the 4 German power companies amounted to €23 billion (during the economic crisis). This corresponds to €460 billion over the time frame the 2009 PV-module owners collect feed-in tariffs:
If you take into account inflation during the next 20 years: The German power companies will probably collect about 100 times more profit from the German electricity consumer than what the same consumers pay for these PV-modules on their neighbors roofs.

And by the way: The PV-industry in Germany paid more taxes in 2008 than what feed-in tariffs were paid that same year:
And this is besides the fact that they also generated 50'000 jobs and believe it or not: Unemployed people actually do also cost.

Thanks to the generous subsidy program, crops on some fields have been replaced with arrays of shimmering,

Actually besides the fact that PV is orders of magnitudes more efficient than any biomass and 0.01% of the German area already amounts to 54 GW (at 15% PV efficiency): Over 90% of the German PV-modules are in fact placed on existing roofs.
Needless to say that PV on crop fields are not eligible to receive feed-in tariffs anymore.

I think net-metering is awesome. However, Germany's feed-in tariff has been a little bit too generous. And I think there should be low-interest loans available that people can add to their mortgages in order to pay for solar systems.

I think Dr Hermann Scheer's fear of Nuclear power to be short-sighted. I love solar (I installed on myself) & wind but they will not be enough. Nuclear power will be needed.

The feed-in tarrif was a bit generous, but that was only because the cost of solar has dropped way faster then expected. This is also the reason why there has been an extra adjustment per 1-1-2009 and again per 1-6-2010. And actually the Feed-in tarrifs work so well that there are low-interest loans available. There are speciallised banks in Germany which do nothing else than finance solar projects against low interest, because is such a sure bussiness-case.

But this thread is about Herman Scheer, who I deeply admire. And would like to point to this example of why. Only last tuesday:

“You are the losers”, so he said to the captains of the Dutch energy-industry. But we don’t have to feel sorry, like no one bothered when the typewriting industry disappeared.

It's simply brilliant how he is telling this faith to the proud leaders of multi-billion dollar energy companies and comparing them to something ancient as the typewriting industry! So fresh and so uncompromising. But please, do read the entire article:

I and I think the well over 800.000 owners of PV-systems in Germany with me deeply regret the loss of this vissionary!

& wind but they will not be enough.

Actually with European Offshore wind-power alone (without wind-power on land, without PV, without CSP, without hydro, without geothermal, without biomass), 7 times more than Europe's electricity needs can be generated:

And I will comment that I too believe that small scale power generation to localized customers is the best plan for energy distribution. Too big to fail is not a (good) option.

No need to game the system for the profits of the PTB.

I believe that the sooner we dis-enfrachise the big boys, the better.

Go with what you can and who cares about the TBTF.

Some light is better than none. Been there on a sailboat.

It's what you can get by with, and yes it may be a power down, but, it's not the

end, of everything.

Ya gotta do what what ya gotta do.

The feed-in tariff shouldn't be necessary if a CO2 cap has been mandated. The customers are out there waiting with billions of euros/dollars to spend. Let the market decide who can best supply customers and stay under the carbon cap. To make it simpler disallow carbon credits most of which I think are phoney.

FiT advocates don't seem to need very sophisticated analysis of their arguments. I suggest that federal governments subsidise toasted sandwich makers. That way anorexics and supermodels will put on weight and the cost of the toasters will come down as volume increases. Come to think of it let's have feed-in tariffs for nuclear power. How come hydro built in the mid 20th century doesn't get FiT? Both nukes and hydro are low carbon, evidently not the right type.

On another tack I wonder if there are jurisdictions beside Germany where opposition to nuclear is centred around a charismatic politician. Scotland comes to mind and perhaps certain States in Australia and the US. When the anti-nuke politician passes on opposition may fade.

I read Hermann Scheers book last year and while I found him to be a genuine advocate of his cause the book was rather superficial. It glossed over many of the problems of renewable energy and he got a bit carried away with his glorious vision of the future. Nevertheless, Scheer was certainly the driving force behind solar PV in Germany and his legacy will be remembered as a heroic effort, regardless of the future for the industry. RIP.

NREL has release a Study for FIT's for the US Market.

"With over 75 countries, states and provinces around the world with some kind of feed-in tariff, policymakers and researchers in the U.S. are considering the role for the policy in America. "

Congress and ENRON screwed up Energy decoupling a decade ago. FIT's make sense since the Power meter does not Lie, anything else is corruptible. The issue would be what incentive if any to provide. Current electricity production is heavily subsidized in the US. Grid parity with current rates is a ways away, parity with new generation (excluding Nat Gas at current rates) has been achieved in some areas.

'The meter doesn't lie.'

Let's all just make sure that Diebold doesn't skivvy its way into the SmartMeter industry.

No, really.

"People believe that if you put honest numbers into a computer, you'll get honest numbers out. So did I, until I met a computer with a sense of humor." - Mannie from Heinlein's Moon is a Harsh Mistress

Sorry, folks, to spit in the soup. But Hermann Scheer was a fantasist. I've read his book 'Energy Autonomy'. It sucks. Here's an extract from page 46:

THe fact that renewable energy can satisfy the world's entire energy needs has been explained repeatedly in detailed scientific scenarios since the 1970s: on a global scale, for the US, repeatedly for Europe, for German and Japan, for Sweden, or Austria -- and also for regions within individual countries.

Anybody who can believe that can believe anything. And as late as 2007 Scheer was a passionate advocate of biofuels. Scheer gives environmentalism a bad name with his shoddy data, his bias against nuclear power, and his infantile belief in alternative energy as a panacea.

Puhleez. As David MacKay says: numbers, not adjectives.

As David MacKay says: numbers, not adjectives.

Actually according to the facts MacKay is either ignorant or lying.

With European Offshore wind-power (offshore in fact means no-countryside) alone (without wind-power on land, without PV, without CSP, without hydro, without geothermal, without biomass), 7 times more than Europe's electricity needs can be generated:

400,000 km^2 of the US is already built. If only 5% of this built area is covered with PV, it will lead to 2400 GW installed PV capacity at 12% efficiency:
Besides the US has an on-shore wind power potential of 10,459 GW according to the NREL.

Last year alone the world added 80 GW of renewable capacity:[tt_news]=267&tx_ttnews[backPid]=4&cHash=d9f716d0d9

As much as many people here are voicing their disillusions with Scheer's lofty goals and calling out his exaggerations or shortcomings, it's important to note his accomplishments. Regardless of how much a role you feel renewables can play, it's clear that this man has done a great deal, more than just about anyone I can think of, to attempt to bring renewables into play. I think the lesson Scheer would have us take away is that instead of bemoaning our predicament, we should be transitioning as quickly as possible, immediately. And Germany is a great example of the beginnings of an effective transition.

jonrw: Thank you! If only we could learn how to process the ass-hat into a reliable form of flexible energy, outside of the sun, as a sustainable source it may be unmatched. g

I think the lesson Scheer would have us take away is that instead of bemoaning our predicament, we should be transitioning as quickly as possible, immediately. And Germany is a great example of the beginnings of an effective transition.

I agree! Scheer was above all about paradigm change away from BAU, and that is where his detractors continue to come up short, they just can't understand that renewables will never be nor were they ever intended to be a substitute source of energy for a fossil fuel based industrial civilization.

Scheer understood that we need to develop a completely new much less energy intense civilization. He also intuitively knew that whether we like it or not we will end up having a simplified less complex civilization and in such a world the last thing we want is ultra complex systems such as nuclear power plants decaying (no pun intended) because we no longer will have the energy required to maintain the infrastructure and complexity on which they depend. He also grasped at a fundamental level that in this new world order centralized power distribution is less desirable than distributed systems.

I think he was also quite the shrewd politician who was able to implement his vision without rocking the boat by sugar coating reality a bit when presenting his ideas to the public. My hunch is that down the road he will be hailed as a great visionary German.

Hi Maygar,

Generally I agree with what you have to say-When you say that we won't have the energy and complex infrastructure needed to support nuclear power I agree -if you will allow me to insert the words "sooner or later" in there.

But it seems very likely indeed to me that we will be able to keep any built and running nukes running for thier intended design lives-ditto the the grid.

We need all the baseload nuke we can get to help keep the economy functioning an near to thre bau norm as possible;because if the economy AIN'T FUNCTIONING in this fashion, wind and solar aren't going to get built out to nearly as great a degree-or maybe to any significant additional degree if the economy crashes really hard.

It's a paradox to be sure, but the more nukes we have, within the limits of what we are likely to actually GET, the more solar we will likely be able to build.

We need all the baseload nuke we can get to help keep the economy functioning an near to thre bau norm as possible;because if the economy AIN'T FUNCTIONING in this fashion, wind and solar aren't going to get built out to nearly as great a degree-or maybe to any significant additional degree if the economy crashes really hard.


I agree, just like we still need fossil fuels right now to keep what we have going for as long as we can. What I'm saying and I get the impression that you basically agree is that down the road we won't. Renewables should be implemented now as fast as possible while we still have what we have left of fossil fuels, and nuclear with all its inherent complexity, and everything else with the hope that we will have enough capacity built up so that we are able to produce and manufacture all that we need with as little input from non renewables as possible.

This is what I think that Sheer wanted to accomplish, he wanted to take advantage of what we have available now to get a jump start on the future. I was in Germany recently and got to see some of those results. Probably because I already work with solar energy and have a good understanding of its limitations my expectations are more realistic than the majority of people still stuck on BAU. We need to start accepting that post peak and post BAU are nothing like our current system. We are going to be landing on a very different planet.

If I had one wish granted to me it would be that people start understanding this simple reality.



During Pillow talk, last night..
We had a great little block party yesterday, kids out in the light chill scooting up and down the street, and adults hanging out and reconnecting, one city counselor, one Mom raised nomadic in Somalia, some hungry kids from around the corner.. good gathering, and so simple to do.

Later, my wife was saying she was just a bit bummed at some of the pure Cr@p food that was going into these kids, and we talked about how much was changing and OUGHT to change in American culture.. how to start having things that are REAL around us again.. Real Food, furniture made from Real Wood, get rid of the cheap throwaway junk from the Malls, and the Fake Hype around Sex and Fear, yada, yada. Our family has done a lot of this, but seeing a second of TV or what people bring to a picnic reminds us of how many still live in a largely Plastic Bubble.

I told her the convo was getting dangerously close to why I spend a bunch of time in these issues at TOD, and how we need to change, and to expect change soon.. about the Journal's article on not having enough power to support a recovery, etc..

She WANTS to land on a different planet, too.. but I need to figure out how to clarify some of my assumptions (from TOD conversations) about what our limitations will likely be, in what we can have on that planet. It's funny how you can be very counterculture and mobile in some parts of your life, and still also mainstream and stuck in old definitions in another part.

I still have lingering dreams of getting ready for christmas by cozying up with the Big, Fat Sears Catalog, Toy Section.

"Ralphie: I want an official Red Ryder, carbine action, two-hundred shot range model air rifle!
Mrs. Parker: No, you'll shoot your eye out. "
'A Christmas Story' - orig, In God we Trust, all others pay cash. (IIRC)

([after cracking a secret code]
Ralphie: [Reading it] Be sure to drink your Ovaltine. Ovaltine? A crummy commercial? Son of a bitch!)

Then why is the video in this post promising BAU, complete with all of the logos of the sponsors at the end?

Because we are still living in BAU and the establishment and TPTB haven't accepted that the winds are changing.

Didn't your parents teach you not to believe everything you see on TV?

Maybe you could just give it credit as a white lie. What else will it take to get deluded people to come out of their burning houses, when they're convinced they are just at a Barbeque?

Only very rarely a single human with vision, extraordinary will, intellect and ideas truly makes a noticeable contribution to mankind. Dr. Hermann Scheer, undoubtedly, was such a person and his passing is a huge loss for those that work and hope towards a more sustainable and healthier society. Let's hope that his message is not forgotten and his ideas continue to inspire people all over the world to make a difference.

I wish family and friends of Dr. Scheer all the best in this difficult time.

Anyone explain to me why George Monbiot hates Germany's solar system so much?

I love the *idea* of renewables, but until we invent energy storage 1000 times cheaper AND more powerful, that can store excess solar input from summer through into winter, for example, intermittency remains the great untested problem. Not everywhere has enough hydro or biomass to pull this off.

Denmark put 20 years into wind and got their emissions down to 650 grams Co2 / kWh.

France put 10 years into nuclear and got their emissions down to 90 grams Co2 / kWh. Go figure.

PS: I read somewhere that solar PV costs $24 billion / gigawatt capacity, but nuclear is down around $4, $5, or $6 billion / gigawatt, depending on which reactor class we're talking about and which safety protocols we want to go with.

Someone explain the solar rebate to me? Do we want solar on every roof, or extra nurses, police, and maybe even some subsidised Fast-Rail?