Something that all cities have plenty of is rooftops. The millions of square meters of space is severely under-utilized when it could be extremely productive in the catchment of water, or electricity generation through solar power and wind energy.
While Germany has less than ideal weather conditions for solar powered electricity generation; it hasn’t stopped the country from becoming a world leader in the uptake of grid connect solar power, mainly thanks to their gross feed in tariff program which pays owners of grid connect systems a premium rate well above the standard market value for all electricity generated by these installations.
Germany added an extra 2.7 gigawatts of solar power during 2007, enough to supply the electricity needs for 1 million homes. This is nearly double the amount generated during 2006. In Berlin alone, 10,000 jobs have been created in the solar sector. Around 14 percent of the country’s electricity was derived by renewable sources last year, solid progress towards their target of 20% by 2020. Australia currently sources around 7% of its power via renewable energy.
In Germany’s latest program, they are allowing private investors to rent space on school roofs and public buildings for the purpose of solar electricity generation and have already turned 24 schools into mini power plants according to Germany’s economy minister, Harald Wolf. Berlin’s parliament is also expected to pass legislation shortly that would require anyone building or renovating a building to incorporate green energy generation.