On a casual drive from the Baltic Sea to Thuringia, the “green heart of Germany,” the most striking feature of the landscape are the wind turbines. They are everywhere, on the hills, in the fields, in the sea— herds of them.
Turns out, Germany actually paid attention to the wake-up call delivered by the energy crisis in the 1970s and 80s. The country has been funding R&D and deploying mostly wind and solar forms of renewable energy ever since. Its Green Party became a political force in Germany after a series of chemical spills in the Rhine in the late 1980s.
Over the past two decades, Germany has become a global leader in renewable energy. In 2003, Germany had 40 percent of the world’s installed capacity for wind energy and was second only to Japan in installed photovoltaic (solar panels) energy.
As countries like Germany and companies like Herman Miller discovered long ago, meaningfully switching to renewable energy is a complex and challenging issue that requires a deep commitment, a long-term outlook, and a multi-faceted approach.
Photos courtesy of Anne Kunze.