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BERLIN, Oct 15 (Reuters) - Hermann Scheer, a member of parliament who was a driving force in making Germany a world leader in renewable energy, has died at the age of 66, his Social Democratic Party said on Friday.
Scheer was the main architect of Germany's pioneering Renewable Energy Act, which set up a system of incentives paid for by utilities to encourage hundreds of thousands of home owners and investors to build solar and wind power systems.
Thanks to the legislation, Germany gets 16 percent of its power from green sources, triple the level of 15 years ago, and wants to raise that to 30 percent by 2020. The law, passed by the SPD-Greens government in 2000, has been adopted in more than 50 countries.
In Germany, it has led to the creation of more than 350,000 jobs. About half of the world's grid-based solar electricity is produced in Germany, which now has about 18 gigawatts of solar power capacity or the equivalent of 18 large coal-fired power plants.
Germany is also one of the world's leaders in wind energy.
Scheer, named as one of Time magazine's five "heroes for the green century" in 2002, won the Alternative Nobel Prize in 1999 for his commitment to renewable energy. Britain's Guardian newspaper included him on its 2008 list of "50 people who could save the planet".
Scheer advised governments and parliaments in Europe, Africa, Asia and Latin America, and his books such as "The Solar Strategy", "A Solar Manifesto" and "The Solar Economy" have been published in English and other languages.
He was the founder and president of the European Association for Renewable Energies (EUROSOLAR) and chairman of the World Council for Renewable Energy (WCRE) since 2001. The two non-governmental organisations helped set up legal frameworks for renewable energy in other countries. (Reporting by Erik Kirschbaum; editing by Andrew Dobbie)