Renewable Energy in Germany by Citizen Action

Often, renewable energy generation seems to be a pipe dream. Far away, expensive and only available to governments and extremely wealthy individuals.


However, this is a myth. Just a quick search online will yield a vast trove of results for consumer appliances powered by solar energy and wind energy, and even more tutorials on how to install renewable energy sources.

This is not an uncommon phenomenon, but when talking about mass scale industrial renewable energy generation – there are few projects to be seen available for the common layman.


There are many types of renewal energy generation for the consumer, including:

Solar energy, using PV or photo-voltaic cells which convert sunlight into electrical energy. Solar cells currently operate at about 15%-25% maximum efficiency, meaning that only up to 25% of the sunlight that falls on a photo-voltaic cell is converted to energy. The 25% figure, is achieved only in lab tests, in real life actual usage, it usually falls to 20% maximum. As expected, PV cells can only be deployed in areas with sunlight, and the stronger the sunlight, the better. On top of that, solar energy farms need a massive area to capture sunlight to produce a reasonable amount of electricity to justify its cost.

Another form of solar energy is based off mirrors and a steam turbine. Multiple mirrors focus the sun’s rays on a boiler tank painted in black. This heat collected by the multiple mirrors focussing the sun’s rays on it causes the water to vaporize into steam, which then turns the turbines connected to the boiler tank and generates electrical energy.

Wind energy, usually through wind turbines, which use the kinetic energy of moving air to turn fan blades, which then turn a generator, generating an electrical current.

Hydroelectric energy, this form uses the gravitational potential of elevated water that was lifted from the oceans by sunlight. It is not strictly speaking renewable since all reservoirs eventually fill up and require very expensive excavation to become useful again. At this time, most of the available locations for hydroelectric dams are already used in the developed world.

And the not-so-well known source wave energy. Wave energy generators operate using a combination of hydraulic systems and floats to harness the kinetic energy of underwater currents.

The waves force a series of floats to bob up and down. These floats are connected via a hydraulic system to generate more force upon the floats being pushed up, and then the hydraulic system turns gears connected to series or one turbine, dependent of the configuration of the station.

Due to the complex nature, as well as the relatively new development stage it is in, and selective sites in which this kind of station can be deployed, it is uncommon to see consumers using these for renewable energy generation.

In Germany, there are 3 main sources of energy. Traditional and more polluting coal fired plants, older nuclear powered plants, and lastly, renewable energy, which consist mainly of solar and wind power.

The German government decided along with the German public to close down the nuclear power plants following the Chernobyl power plant disaster – and then following that in modern times, the Fukushima power plant disaster.

They decided that they could not replace all the nuclear power plants with coal fired plants either, as it would only cause more issues with climate change. In the 2000’s, climate change came to the forefront of global attention, and with solar and wind technology catching up, Germany took the leap with the Energiewende in 2011.

Energiewende means energy transition, while others have used it to mean a green energy revolution. The term represents a change in the policy of managing energy through supply and demand commonly found in most markets, to a centralized to distribution model from smaller units. Such units include houses which produce and also supply energy back to the power grid.

The German Energiewende did not just come about in 2011. It is rooted in the anti-nuclear movement of the 1970’s.



In addition, Energiewende also encompasses the emphasis on efficiency in the production and distribution of power, as the faster and closer proximity to the supply and consumption sites of energy as well as increased energy saving measures boosts efficiency.

The policy was published in September 2011, about 6 months after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, only emphasizing how much the change to renewable energy was needed. It was finally passed and made into official policy in 2011.

Apart from green energy generation, the document also contains some very ambitious and important aspects. These include a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 80-95% by 2050, an increase in renewable energy generation to 60% of consumption nationally, as well as an increase in electric energy efficiency by 2050.

They key tenet of the Energiewende however has been citizen action and cooperation to feed into the energy grid. This action has led to the creation of energy cooperatives and citizen investors pooling their money and land to fund and construct renewable energy sources.

As a result, Germany’s share of renewable energy generation and usage has increased from around 5% in 1999 to 22.9% in 2012, reaching close to the OECD average of 18% usage of renewable energy.


Of course, these cooperatives not only fund and construct renewable energy sources such as wind turbines(as wind is the most common renewable energy resource in Germany) but they also take profits in a scheme where excess power is sold back to the grid. As a result, profits and power has been decentralized, creating a competitive market in which there are few large energy companies that have a large share in the renewable energy market.

This is only possible due to citizen action and cooperation leading to legislation reflected in the Energiewende policy which allows for a sustainable and realistic approach to the transition from fossil fuel generated energy to renewable energy.


Lendogram 1st Birthday!

This week is an important week for us at Lendogram as we officially turn ONE and I wanted to thank you all for being part of this community with us.


We’ve come a long way towards reaching our goal to make sharing easier than buying!

Over the last year, we’ve added some useful and time saving features to the Lendogram platform but the most exciting is the introduction of Groups: you can now create your own private group!

Think Your Own Library of Things with Friends lovethis

And it’s so easy to get started:

  1. Create your own group
  2. Invite your friends, family or co-workers
  3. Start sharing!

I hope Lendogram has created a bit more time and love in your life, sharing with your friends instead of spending time buying stuff we don’t really need all the time.

I love hearing y0ur stories and how you use Lendogram… Share with us a picture or your experiences on our Facebook page, Twitter or Instagram or respond to just in the comments below. 


Lendogram Team

Celebrate Earth, One Share at Time

As winter gives way to spring, and eventually summer, let’s reflect on how nature affects us all, and conversely, how we affect it.

The snow is melting, and the sun is getting stronger, and it’s time to enjoy the outdoors, maybe go camping – but what about all the equipment to setup camp? Should we buy  it all?


Let’s just take a look at the life cycle of a tent.

A tent is a simple structure made up of fabric and tent poles. In the old days, tents would probably be propped up by rope made from vegetable fibres such as hemp, and cloth made from felt, or wool or animal skin. All of this would be probably available from an area of 100 sq. km around where the tent would be setup. The downside is that it took more time, labour and energy to produce such materials due to the lack of industrial manufacturing facilities and technology.

The modern tent is an entirely different animal. The tent poles are made of metal, and if it’s a better quality tent, the poles will be made of aluminium. The fabric of the tent, can comprise of more than 10 different type of material, from polyester to high grade kevlar thread.

To simplify the process for making the tent poles:

  1. Metal needs to be mined out of the ground. During this process, if mining is done irresponsibly, run-off from toxic metals and chemicals used to extract the metal ore can pollute groundwater and affect local communities. Over time, this run-off will eventually seep into the water table, the underground reservoir of water, which farmers as well as surrounding communities also access for drinking and to water their crops.
  2. The metal ore then needs to be smelted. Done properly, air pollution is reduced to a minimum and metal is extracted efficiently from the ore. If the smelter is using polluting fuels to heat the smelter, air pollution occurs, as well as vast emissions of greenhouse gases. Most modern smelters and plants these days use induction heating, which sounds high tech but is surprisingly easy and simple to implement with magnets and electric currents.
  3. After the metal is processed, it is then sent to a factory to be manufactured and made into tent poles, shipped with the tent, and then sold to you.

As for the fabric of the tent – most plastics and plastic based threads such as polyester, the most common material found in tent fabrics, are petroleum based products. The petroleum industry isn’t evil per-se, but it does have a bad track record of polluting the earth when it comes to drilling and pumping oil out of the ground, as well as transporting it.

The fact stands that for a simple thing like a tent, so much carbon emissions are produced in its production alone, not to mention the transportation, as well as the sales and advertising materials needed to market it to everyone.

When used for just one or two summers and then kept on the top shelf of the storage room, it’s value is wasted, and there are double carbon outputs when you throw it away after a few years maybe because a chipmunk chewed a hole in it to get to your food.

Most tents are kept for 10 years and are used 3-4 times during this time – and then thrown away. On average, you could use a tent for over 100 times before it’s beyond repairs.

Think about that for a moment – all that effort, all that labour and Earth’s resources going to waste.

You can spread that cost of carbon emissions through sharing!

And you will create goodwill amongst your friends and colleagues through the very same act of sharing, and they could share their stuff with you too!

Today this is possible and very convenient, just by using apps like Lendogram!  Your friends borrow your stuff, you borrow theirs. You save the earth, and so do they, and everyone saves money!

Of course, if you’re not an outdoors person, this can apply to other things too! Lendogram isn’t just about tents! Dresses, jewellery, video games, toys, books, and even air mattresses for your house guest, you can share all these and more with your friends and family!

Save the earth – one share at a time!
Lendogram ❤️


Earth Day 2016

With April 22nd drawing near, let us talk a little about Earth Day!

Did you know that the first Earth Day was celebrated in 1970, almost fifty years ago? Back then, it was a day proposed to honour peace and the Earth itself and it was celebrated on March 21st, the first day of spring in the northern hemisphere.

However, the April 22nd Earth Day as we know it was originally a forum on the environment founded by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson. In fact, it was only after 1990 that Earth Day became an international event, increasing its previous coverage from just the United States.

The landmark Paris Agreement is due to be signed on Earth Day by more than 120 countries, including both the United States and China.

Just a short summary of the Paris Agreement: it is a global agreement to voluntarily drive down carbon pollution with the aims of maintaining or reducing global temperatures. It also aims to increase the capability of countries to adapt to climate change without threatening food production. What makes this a big deal is that these two countries are literally the world’s largest polluters, accounting for up to 40% of global carbon emissions. When we include other nations like India, Russia and Indonesia, we can account for more than half the world’s emissions of greenhouse gas. That is indeed extremely significant.

With this agreement signed and ratified, the U.S. and China have both demonstrated a willingness to move forward to a low carbon future.

The theme for Earth Day 2016 is “Trees for the Earth”, a call to start planting up to 7.8 million trees by 2020.


Trees help combat climate change by absorbing greenhouse gases, along with providing communities with food, energy and income.

Also, planting a tree is one of the most simple things we can do to save the Earth, no?

The world certainly agrees. Now, let’s take a look at some of the global efforts in contributing to Earth Day 2016.


In line with the main movement, Earth Day Canada has started a new campaign, #Rooting4Trees, which hopes to plant up to 25,000 trees.

They’re doing this by launching a new crowdfunding website and collecting pledges to support tree-planting projects across the country, as well as encouraging individuals to get their own hands dirty and plant their own trees, or to connect with local organisations to host community events.

What a good way to both demonstrate their commitment as well as celebrate Earth Day Canada’s own 25th anniversary at the same time!


Across the Pacific, Earth Day Tokyo 2016’s theme is “Be the Shift!”, with a focus on personal responsibility and a movement towards both a sustainable and peaceful society amidst the chaos of the world today.

With events such as an outdoor concert in a park, study sessions, as well as a candlelight memorial, Earth Day Tokyo hopes to raise awareness of environment degradation combined with a unique focus on world peace.


Meanwhile in South America, ENO (Environment Online) Brazil is conducting a tree-planting day as part of the ENO Treelympics, which is a global campaign that encourages –you guessed it- the planting of trees.

This campaign, mainly for students aged 6-18, encourages them to find suitable areas for planting native trees, with the aid of schools and municipalities. With the motto being CitiusPlusFortius, which roughly translates to faster, greater, stronger, it’s safe to say that they’re going all out.


Across the Atlantic, in Rome, Earth Day Italy has collaborated with Schools of Rome and Retake Rome to create the Io CiTengo Prize. Translated to “I care about”, the award focuses on the love of one’s city, as well as imagining the future of the Earth.

The award also aims to draw attention to the themes of urban décor, care for your city, and green and common spaces.

Apparently, to win, you submit anything that demonstrates that love for your city is also love for your planet, environment, and fellow man. Anything from essays to artwork to projects are being accepted. How cool is that!

Hong Kong

Going east, the Hong Kong University’s Faculty of Science and Department of Earth Sciences has organised a talk and hands-on workshops for students.

With topics such as “buildings and urban ecology”, as well as “earth materials and their uses”, such a course would no doubt give these students a greater appreciation for the symbiotic nature humans and the earth have, as well as help them with their Earth Sciences class!

Abu Dhabi

Next, in Abu Dhabi, Kalidya Palace Rayhaan is organising its third annual “Battle of the Bottles” boat race, in which participants exercise their creativity and innovation to make boats out of recyclable materials such as plastic bottles.

Apart from that, a pageant would also be held where the best costumes made from recyclable and natural materials will be voted for by a panel of judges.

With such novel and stimulating activities, these participants would no doubt have a good time as well as walk away with more knowledge on how to save the Earth through recycling!


Lastly, down south in Australia, a small group of performers have put together a play to as their own contribution to Earth Day.

Dubbed “Mirror Pond”, it is a show that aims to raise awareness of the potential dangers caused by mining for unconventional gas, through the story of a young girl on a journey through the magical Land of Shalom. With the aid of two fairies, she regains the courage to return to her own land which is on the brink of environmental catastrophe.

With such a captivating storyline, as well as comedy provided by the two mischievous fair folk, it is safe to say that adults and children alike would both be entertained, in addition to being more enlightened about how mining irresponsibly for gas can destroy the environment.

So much love for our planet ❤️ 🌍

Tell us how are you planning to celebrate Earth Day in your community?

The Wealthy Poor

Ironic isn’t it? How can one be wealthy, yet poor?

Before you think that this is just another post on how society lacks values and morals while it’s so materially rich, read on.

We now are at an age of tremendous material wealth. If you don’t believe this statement, go out to your local mall. Go to the supermarket. look at the vast rows of food, clothes, makeup, consumer electronics and other products. Now, pick something up. Anything will do.

Ask yourself – was this grown or created within 5 miles of this supermarket?

Was it made by someone I know? Could I have made it by myself?

Most of these answers will probably be a resounding, hollow, no.

The question that begs us to answer it – How did we arrive here?

Through many years of mass industrialization, monoculture agriculture, globalization (not always a bad thing) and technological increases, we have made what kings and emperors ate in the medieval ages an everyday occurrence for most of us living in the developed world.

But why are we clad in the finery of kings and emperors, why do we eat like them, yet feel so poor? Was it because we made this system? Was it because we voted for it, rather, in our modern system of democracy, not with our votes at the ballot box, but with our wallets?

With our wallets, with our appetites, and with the things we consume.


Let’s take a look at free choice, consumption patterns, and who is actually responsible for all of this.

By the end of the 20th century, the world had largely recovered from the damage caused by the Second World War. With a lack of crises, threats, or in fact any major global trend or narrative, people started to pursue their own happiness. As a result, many people ended up pursuing creature comforts and the nebulous “good life” at the expense of true pleasure or their own self-defined satisfaction.

With mass production on the rise ever since the dawn of the 19th century (Industrial Revolution), products were now easily available to the common man.

What’s more, with the advent of online shops set up by both independent retailers and brand-name store chains trying to stay relevant, a world of products is now quite literally a few clicks away.

Just like that, the instant gratification offered by purchasing expensive or trendy items is now more than ever easier to obtain.

Ever heard of the term “fast fashion”? Well, it was created in response to the consumer demand for instant gratification. It’s a trend that utilizes quick and affordable manufacturing to cater to a large market at relatively lower prices.

The drawback, of course, is that it has contributed to pollution and poor working conditions in developing countries, in addition to placing an emphasis on very brief trends over classic and enduring styles.

However, the pursuit of happiness is not all there is to this story. As the individual affects the environment, the environment affects the individual. And the environment, especially for the millennials and beyond, looks especially daunting.

How does one even think of buying a house for themselves when property prices have been steadily on the rise, appreciating by 17% as compared to three years ago? Is it even possible to pay off one’s college debt when your tuition fees have increased by up to 25% as compared to ten years ago?

It is no wonder, then, that with the twin shadows of debt and an inability to secure individual housing looming over them, that the millennials have turned to chasing material comforts that are easier to secure, such as that shiny new phone or this new stylish shirt.

This, combined with the twin desires for a better standard of living and a sense of belonging run rampant in the form of consumerism. When a generation cannot find the stability that is their own home, or financial independence, they turn to superficial wealth.

Such consumerism manifests in keeping up with fashion trends and a constant pressure to keep an eye out for the next hip thing. In short, we have no one to blame but ourselves.

But don’t let that get you down! The good news is that as we have created this beast, so we are the ones best suited to slay it.

No, I’m not asking all of you to become ascetics or hermits overnight.

However, what we can do is very simple.

First of all, the most basic step forward is to simply value quality over quantity. What’s the point of getting five clutch bags at ten dollars each when you could just invest in a single bag that’s both respectable and long-lasting. Over time, getting fewer things of higher quality saves money, especially when compared to the mind-set of “I’ll just buy it because it’s cheap!”

Secondly, is to ask questions about labour practices used to create what you are buying. Did your jeans come from a company that uses child labour or provides safe working conditions for its workers? Did the makers of your fancy shoes dump toxic waste straight into some village’s drinking water supply? Ethics is the way forward, and some concern for your fellow man would do well in creating a better world for all of us.

Thirdly and last of all, we should invest in ourselves more. We’re not talking about investing in mere material objects.

No, it’s about experiences and more meaningful relationships. Build up a well of life experiences and memories and make your friendships more meaningful. Don’t spend all your energy on buying new things or making new friends. Invest in stronger relationships with friends you already have and take care and mend your clothes. Grab a coffee with a friend for $5 and have an intimate conversation, we promise it will result in greater happiness that will last much longer than the $5 shirt you may buy at the store.

Perhaps those treasured recollections and that compassion you have fostered for your fellow man, as well as the care you have for yourself in not consuming more than you need, may be the wealth we need the most of all.