Energize the people to effect policy change: Community power projects in Denmark and Germany have inspired politicians worldwide but have failed to translate to other countries. Sometimes the first step is to let people say no. In June 2008, George Smitherman was sworn in as the energy minister of Ontario in Canada. The province was already low-carbon, generating one-quarter of its energy from hydropower and more than half from nuclear. But the reactors were ageing, and Smitherman was keen to push renewable energy further. One of his first actions was to go on a fact-finding mission to Denmark and Germany. Danish renewable-energy campaigns that began in the 1970s had inspired a movement in Germany known as Energiewende (‘energy transition’). Smitherman encountered innovations such as ways to turn municipal and agricultural waste into electricity and heat. And in Freiburg, Germany, mayor Dieter Salomon introduced him to the country’s Renewable Energy Sources Act. Passed in 2000, the act gives everyone from utility firms to individuals the right to produce renewable electricity and sell it to the grid — even if conventional power plants have to ramp down to accommodate it.
Nature 29th Nov 2017 read more »