With so much talk about energy and so much focus on the US, here’s a short overview of the situation in Germany. Being at the forefront of alternative energy and in fact the largest producer and user of it, does not mean Germany isn’t largely dependent on oil. About 12% of its overall needs comes from nuclear power and another 5% from renewable sources. The rest is imported.
Interestingly, in 1991 Germany passed the Renewable Energy Sources Act which allowed producers of renewable energy to sell it back to the grid at fixed rates. This includes individuals so that a household with solar panels (or even small wind generators) can sell excess energy back to energy companies at a fixed and above-market price. By reducing the risk in investing in new energy sources and technologies, Germany has become a, if not the, leader in renewable energy. A similar and more recent law was passed in 2004, the details of which I won’t get into If interested, you can read an official summary in English here.