How to Start Your Own Power Company, Stop Coal and Nukes, and Transform Your City
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US: Oh, absolutely. Just right here, we’re expecting to have over 50 employees at EWS by the end of the year. That's a lot for a small town like Schönau, we're now the second largest income tax payer. Nationally, there are currently about 350,000 jobs in the renewable energy sector that have been created in the last few years. If you compare that to the nuclear industry that has about 30,000 jobs in Germany, the message is clear: more renewable energy creates more jobs. I'm absolutely convinced that this is going to be an economic boost for Germany because we're developing all kinds of new technologies. All the storage technologies that have to be developed, and of course that's also going to be export opportunities, meaning Germany is going to profit without end from the switch, I'm convinced of it.
SE: And if Germany can pull it off, others will follow suit....
US: Yes, but whoever is first is positioned best.
SE: Did you share that with President Obama during the Goldman Environmental Prize reception at the White House?
US: Well, I gave him an English copy of our " 100 good reasons against nuclear energy" brochure, but I'm not going to delude myself. It was obviously one of many meetings he has, but he listened to everyone, he said some very nice things, it was really great. He received "100 good reasons" with a bit of a skeptical look on his face. I told him what we were doing and how we are working toward rebuilding our energy sector towards renewable energy, and how we want to do it without any nuclear energy. I gave him a stern look, because I know he has a different opinion on that, and I told him I had "100 good reasons" translated into English just for him.
SE: Now that you're no longer an energy rebel but a leading figure in the industry, how do you like your new role as a leader?
US: It's definitely a good feeling. (Laughs) I was never really a rebel or contrarian but rather someone who wants to build something positive and constructive. Insofar this new role really suits me. No question about it. I just love to inspire and be able to create change together with others. There's a lot to do still, we won't run out of work any time soon.
Sven Eberlein is a freelance writer and journalist covering social and environmental issues.