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The prize-winning utility, one of Germany’s early pioneers in the field, is owned by the old medieval market town of Schwäbisch Hall, north of Stuttgart.Most of the utility’s suppliers are private people, farmers, and small businesses, as well as "energy co-ops," which are clean-energy facilities owned and collectively managed by a group of local investors.
SCHWÄBISCH HALL, Germany — On any given day, Johannes van Bergen, director of the municipal utility Stadtwerke Schwäbisch Hall in southwestern Germany, conducts his team’s array of gas, heat, and electricity sources to meet the energy needs of at least several hundred thousand Swabians in the region, as well as about more than 90,000 customers elsewhere in Germany.
And every day — in fact, every hour — that energy mix is constantly in flux.
Meanwhile, Desertec, which was envisioned as supplying 15 percent of all of Europe’s electricity by 2050, hasn’t contributed a single kilowatt to Europe’s power supply five years after its inception — and from the sound of more bad news recently — it may never.
The project’s biggest investors are now threatening to pull out, discouraged with the lack of progress and competing solutions to save it.
Even just four years ago, just about everybody involved in the Energiewende thought that big-ticket projects like enormous offshore wind farms planned for Germany’s northern seas and Desertec, the mega-project to import solar energy across the Mediterranean from sprawling concentrated solar power arrays in the Middle East and Northern Africa, would be integral to Germany going renewable.