How can we decide whether we should be investing precious energy in project? Energy return on energy invested is a concept that mirrors the financial metric 'return on investment' (ROI). It can help us to decide whether new sources of energy, especially extreme forms such as fracked gas, are energy efficient. Adam Dadeby explains the concept in a paper he published with The Oil Drum (pdf, 229 K).

In Germany and Denmark there is an amazing revolution underway: local communities are establishing their own renewable generation, making themselves independent of the rapacious energy companies. In those countries there are generous feed-in tariffs but in the UK this is possible with hard work and commitment.

Take, for example, the South Brent Community Energy Society near Ivybridge in Devon. Their community-owned wind-turbine, paid for entirely through the issue of shares to local people, began generating electricity in September 2013. By early December 2013 it had generated over 80,000kWh towards an annual target of between 300,000 and 400,000kWh. The Society hopes to be able to reinvest around £10,000/year into local energy saving and generating initiatives in the South Brent area. There are further details South Brent community renewables (docx, 97 K)here.

In Germany there is a successful example of a local energy co-operative that has become hugely successful. Its name is EWS-Schoenau and you can find more from the website, which unfortunately is only in German, although there is an international section in English.

The co-operative is in the Black Forest town in Schonau. Citizens responded to the Chernobyl catastrophe in 1986 by demanding local, safe, renewable energy. When their demands were not met they took control of the grid themselves. They have since become a community-owned national electricity supply company. Much more can be found here.

You can find a couple of presentations about green energy here. They were produced by students at Masaryk University in Brno, Czech Republic, the country that has the second highest per capita investment in renewable energy in the world, largely solar. The first presentation compares government support for green energy in the Czech Republic and Germany. The second presentation describes the alternative means of extracting tidal energy.

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