by an adviser of U.S. President Jimmy Carter favoring energy conservation, especially in nations that thought energy was always in surplus. “I was very impressed,” he said, “because I thought that there was, finally, in this big, admirable country, a world perspective that included responsibility for all.” Later, he said, Al Gore also thought in terms of common responsibility.

Second, he said that Germany was very much in the tradition of the Carter doctrine and the practice of Al Gore, a path toward renewable energy and energy efficiencies. That is a true international perspective, he said, enabling all countries to share the most modern technological options to develop what they need.

The alternative is to advise them to take the path of large coal and nuclear plants. “This cannot be a development perspective,” he said, “and is why, from the German and European viewpoint, renewable energy should be the priority. We should serve as a model for these countries that renewables represent a secure, tradable energy supply, providing for mobility, health, and education in every country.”

100 Percent Renewables: ‘For Now, It is Just an Idea’

Third, he recalled being severely shaken by the nuclear accident at Three Mile Island, near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania in 1979. And since the disaster in Japan, he said, he thinks often about California, and the likelihood of a large earthquake catastrophe there. “Wind energy, photovoltaics, and biogas just don’t pose these catastrophic questions of nuclear meltdowns and radioactive clouds. So I see myself there, aligned with America’s earliest ideas for reform.”

Mr. Rupprecht said that nuclear energy is evaluated in Germany differently than it is in neighboring countries. He said his constituency lives near the border of the Czech Republic and its nuclear plants, and if Germany switches off its power plants, his people will still live closer to the Czech plants than to the plants in Bavaria. “On what grounds can I can argue for this phase-out in terms of safety?” he asked. Given the many uncertainties, he said it would be 10 or 15 years before the German model could be judged a success.

“Right now,” he said, “we argue self-consciously and offensively. Nothing guarantees that this route will be successful.” While the phase-out has been delayed to 2020 or beyond, he worried about “whether the burden will fall on the population: the construction of pipeline networks, support of wind turbines, etc. It will take about fifteen years until we can see whether Germany’s path is really attractive and whether it can be a model for other countries. For now, it is just an idea.”

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