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Lessons from Solar Germany

October 7, 2010
Chris Mentzel, CEO of Clean Energy Maui LLC

I was astounded to discover the huge role that clean energy plays in Germany. Everywhere in Northern Germany, hillsides were filled with the spinning white wings of windmills—and most barn roofs in Bavaria are now filled with solar panels generating electricity.

People in Germany are very knowledgeable about climate change and take their personal responsibility for it very seriously.

The numbers are equally amazing. Germany installed 3,800 MW of solar in 2009, compared to 435 MW in the U.S. And already in the first six months of 2010, another 3,800 MW were installed. Right now, every second panel in the world is installed in this Germany, which receives only half the sunshine we enjoy in Hawai‘i.

Article Photos

Clean Energy for Maui

It all starts with the people. Popular resistance to nuclear energy brought up the question of how to better produce the energy to run the world. A few gifted politicians put laws in place that gave clean energy the same support that dirty energies like coal and oil already enjoyed.

On Maui, we already have overwhelming support for clean energy from all sides and the upcoming election gives us the opportunity to vote for politicians who will put proper laws in place.

I was surprised to find out that 80 percent of the solar energy generated in Germany comes from small installations on barns and single-family homes. This is an important lesson for Maui—let’s make sure we cover our existing 40,000 roofs with solar panels. This generates a lot of jobs and brings extra income to the middle class, which is close to being squeezed out of existence. In Germany, farmers can count on solar for additional income and retirement security.

Germany also designs the finest solar technology in the world, which is increasingly available in Hawai‘i.

For my 50-page report and recommendations on going solar, visit



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