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...for his indefatigable work for the promotion of solar energy worldwide.
Hermann Scheer, founder of EUROSOLAR, the European Association for Solar Energy, promoted the development of solar energy worldwide, starting from the premise that the main obstacle to an economic system entirely based on renewable energy is mainly political. He believed that the continuation of current patterns of energy use will be environmentally catastrophic and lead to the end of human civilization, while the only realistic alternative energy source is solar energy. Scheer considerably lobbied at the European level, initiating a EUROSUN Intergroup of the European Parliament and became chairman of its Advisory Board.
Hermann Scheer was born in 1944 and held a Ph.D. in economics and social sciences. In 1988 Scheer founded EUROSOLAR, the European Association for Solar Energy, which "has as its goal the replacement of nuclear and fossil fuels and their sources with environmentally sound energy sources, using both direct and indirect sources of solar energy."
This goal springs primarily from the perception that solar energy is "the most important necessity for upholding the natural foundations of life, as well as for new lasting economic and development politics." EUROSOLAR now has more than 20,000 members and offices in 12 of the EU member states.
Scheer believed that the continuation of current patterns of energy use will be environmentally catastrophic and the end of human civilisation. The only realistic alternative energy source is solar energy. Scheer concluded that it is technically and environmentally feasible to harness enough solar radiation to achieve a total replacement of the fossil/nuclear energy system by a global renewable energy economy. The main obstacle to such a change is political.
That is why EUROSOLAR conferences, organised since 1990 in New Delhi, Harare, Shanghai, St. Petersburg, Cairo and Havana, are described as "political solar energy conferences" and Scheer's book, the English version of which was published in 1994, is entitled A Solar Manifesto. More than 70,000 copies of this book have been sold in several languages.
After considerable lobbying from Scheer and EUROSOLAR, the European Commission published a 'White Book' on renewable energy in November 1997. This included a number of EUROSOLAR's ideas, including the proposal for a one-million-unit programme for photovoltaics (half for Europe, half for Third World villages), and a call to double the market share of renewable energies by 2010.
Scheer also initiated a EUROSUN Intergroup of the European Parliament and became chairman of its Advisory Board. In 1997 and 1998, EUROSOLAR organised international conferences on 'Financial Renewable Energies' and the European conference on "Solar Energy in Architecture and Urban Planning", which attracted hundreds of participants. In 2002, Scheer was named 'Hero for the Green Century' by the TIME Magazine.
He received the World Solar Prize at the 1998 World Conference on Photovoltaics in Vienna, the World Prize on Bioenergy in 2000, the Global Leadership Award by the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) and the World Wind Energy Award in 2004 and, in 2009, the Karl Böer Solar Energy Medal of Merit.
Scheer played a unique role in inspiring the public and decision-makers in many countries about the possibilities of a global transition to a solar-energy based economy. He insisted on this was not a distant dream, but a realistic and urgently needed possibility today, which would overcome global economic disparities and the ongoing ecological crisis.
December 9th, 1999
"There is no alternative" - has become the most popular catchword of leaders in policy and economy. That is how they appeal to people to carry out the leaders' decisions and developments, not to criticize them and not to ponder whether other decisions and developments are possible.
The more lopsided and short-sighted, the more absurd and dangerous the course of global economy and civilization, the louder the apodictic statement: "There is no alternative". By this statement, the majority of present leaders in the so called "First World" want to taboo reasoning and want to denounce those talking about - and working for - alternatives: as being unrealistic, not to be taken seriously, or simply ridiculous.
"There is no alternative" - that is the power formula and lie of the neo-liberalistic modern age, the tranquilizer for the public so that they will not put into practice their democratic rights.
All that happens in a time screaming for alternatives:
One of Robert Jungk's last words was: "They don't do what they know." Today, he would say: "They do just the contrary of what should be done".
In the beginning of the 90s, globalisation was understood as the global responsibility for the global environment and a fair world order. Today, at the end of the 90s, globalization is abused as a ruthless global competition to the disadvantage of the natural environment, of social values, democratic self-determination and deep-rooted cultures.
Global development is on a way which is not sustainable for mankind and nature. But present world leaders make the absurd attempt to solve problems by accelerating speed. Economic reasoning is reduced to day-to-day comparisons of product costs. This corresponds to a daily "muddling through" - policy along this dead-end-road.
The more contradictions become obvious, the louder becomes the call for consensus. Consensus is to send critics to sleep, get them adapted, and suffocate their alternatives. Consensus is to generate conformity. The one who agrees will have a more comfortable individual life- style, whilst living conditions for an increasing number of people are becoming more and more uncomfortable, ending in intolerable poverty.
Nowadays, alternatives are more urgent and burning than ever before. Therefore the Awards we have received today are more necessary and relevant than ever.
Many people paid and are paying with their very lives for their commitment. We owe them our deep appreciation. I had the chance, under comparatively favourable conditions, to describe a decisive goal for the overall future and to help urge it into practice:
In my opinion, the greatest danger is the decoupling of economic processes from their geographical, social, cultural, ecological and constitutional basis.
The sites where resources are gained are decoupled from those where resources are consumed, production sites are decoupled from markets, the causes of ecological destruction are decoupled from locations where this destruction occurs, businesses are decoupled from their shareholders, decision making processes are decoupled from people.
Once upon a time, countries were conquered and their governments stripped of their power. Today, markets are conquered and democracy is being stripped of its power by transnational and decentralised business decisions.
Thus we must give new thought to how people might live peacefully together in the one world instead of being played off against each other. That is only possible by a regeneration of regional economies, so that people in their surroundings get a chance for an independent development, right were they live.
A precondition for that is to use regional renewable resources supplied by the sun: The visible hand of sun instead of the invisible hand of the global resource market for energy, food, and raw materials. To recognise and to use the sun in the service of mankind and to give the laws of nature priority to the laws of market economy: This is the general idea I am working for.
Renewable energies are inexhaustible. They do not destroy the environment. They are available everywhere. They ensure peace. They enable independent developments and a fairer distribution of wealth possibilities. Their use facilitates solidarity with future generations.
They secure the future of mankind. Their use must lead towards the replacement of the nuclear/fossil energy economy. Whether this replacement will be done in time - that is, in the first half of the 21st century - will be the answer to the question whether the industrial revolution was a unique chance for mankind to improve life conditions - or the start of its collective extermination. This replacement cannot be implemented without conflicts and we have to cope with them. We have to fight for the better alternative.
It needs a grand design. This perspective is essential for overcoming the psychological disaster of having no alternative.
It follows the general idea of free and equal chances of life, in terms of world society and of present and future generations. Nobody succeeded better in the wording of this request than Immanuel Kant with his categorical imperative: "I am never to act otherwise than so that I could also will that my maxim should become a universal law." This phrase places the common well-being above egoism. In the age of weapons of mass destruction, of the pyromania burning nuclear and fossil energies, of genetic bio-technology and of transnational economic piracy, public welfare must be seen in a more comprehensive way, since the egoisms have become more dangerous and far reaching.
There are not only individual egoisms but manifold collective ones too - not only the national and racist egoism, there is the resource egoism of industrial countries, the security egoism of nuclear states, there is the egoism of present generations to the disadvantage of the following ones.
Why should people act, if - on the one hand - they know the comprehensive dangers of the global nuclear/fossil pyromania but - on the other hand - they are told again and again that there is no alternative? Those believing both will give up the future and deprive mankind of their motivation to avert the nuclear/fossil danger.
The beginning of each alternative is to show its opportunities to as many people as possible. This is what stimulates people to take initiative. That is the main meaning in this Alternative Nobel Prize: personally a stimulus for my ongoing work and in general - and more important - for many people. Solar energy is the energy of the people. To use this energy does not require big investments of only a few big corporations.
It requires billions of investments by billions of people. They have the opportunity to switch from being a part of the problem to becoming a part of the global solution. That is globalization by the people.
Thank you !
...in one of his last interviews.
VPRO International documentary about solar energy, featuring Hermann Scheer.