Energy Switch: Proven Solutions for a Renewable Future by Craig Morris–A Review

By Paul Gipe

Finally someone who can explain Germany’s phenomenal success with renewable energy to North American readers.

Craig Morris gives us the political and cultural background for Germany’s renewable energy success story that other energy analysts, especially those in the anglophone world, have mistakenly ignored. It’s a good story, and Morris tells it well.

Morris is a journalist and translator specializing in renewable energy. He lives and works in Freiburg, Germany’s–and some would argue the world’s–solar capital.

You might say he lives and breathes solar energy every time he steps out the door. Wind turbines that dot the nearby hilltops of the Schwartzwald (Germany’s Black Forest) are visible from the city’s central platz, and solar panels grace buildings all across the city in the southern state of Baden-Württemburg. The roof of the stadium housing the local football team is covered in solar panels and the quarter of Vauban probably has more solar systems per capita than anywhere else in the world. Even factories in Freiburg sport thousands of solar panels on their roofs.

Originally published in German, Morris’ second language, the book is a tour de force on Germany’s phenomenal success with renewable energy and why Germany offers a model that North Americans could well emulate. He explains why Germany’s adoption of an Electricity Feed Law has propelled it to world leadership in renewable energy development and why there’s a growing movement to adapt this policy to both Canada and the United States.

Morris argues that Germany has become the world leader in this fast growing, multibillion dollar industry, and that North America will be left behind if it doesn’t act fast to join the solar revolution sweeping the globe.

In 2005 German farmers alone installed twice as much solar photovoltaic panels than were installed in all of North America. Farmers! They’re covering their barns with solar panels. They’re installing giant wind turbines in their fields. And all those millions of German pigs for schweinebrauten? They and their manure are being put to work too.

Morris tells us why this is happening in “old” Europe and for the first time an English writer explains why Electricity Feed Laws or Renewable Energy Tariffs have become such powerful tools for the rapid development of renewable energy. He points to Germany and says look what they’ve done using this policy mechanism. Feed Laws, says Morris, have made Germany a renewable energy powerhouse. They can do the same in North America.

Energy Switch: Proven Solutions for a Renewable Future, Craig Morris, 6 x 9, paper, 240 pages, ISBN 0-86571-559-9, New Society Publishers, Gabriola, British Columbia, Canada, phone: +1 250 383 5863,, US$16.95 / Can$20.95.

Paul Gipe is an author, advocate, and critic. He led the campaign for Advanced Renewable Tariffs in Ontario, Canada, a proposal some have called the most progressive renewable energy policy in North America since the 1980s.