The allure of an environmentally benign, abundant, and cost-effective energy source has led an increasing number of industrialized countries to back public financing of renewable energies. Germany’s experience with renewable energy promotion is often cited as a model to be replicated elsewhere, being based on a combination of far-reaching energy and environmental laws that stretch back nearly two decades. This paper critically reviews the current centerpiece of this effort, the Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG), focusing on its costs and the associated implications for job creation and climate protection. We argue that German renewable energy policy, and in particular the adopted feed-in tariff scheme, has failed to harness the market incentives needed to ensure a viable and cost-effective introduction of renewable energies into the country’s energy portfolio. To the contrary, the government’s support mechanisms have in many respects subverted these incentives, resulting in massive expenditures that show little long-term promise for stimulating the economy, protecting the environment, or increasing energy security. In the case of photovoltaics, Germany’s subsidization regime has reached a level that by far exceeds average wages, with per-worker subsidies as high as 175,000 € (US $ 240,000)
E.ON Netz GmbH manages 7600 megawatts of wind generation in Germany, representing 41% of the installed capacity for wind in the country. According to this report, wind operated at 18% capacity on average, with the lowest generation of 8 megawatts occurring in May 2005.
Rube Goldberg would admire the utter purity of the pretensions of wind technology in
pursuit of a safer modern world, claiming to be saving the environment while wreaking
havoc upon it. But even he might be astonished by the spin of wind industry spokesmen.
Consider the comments made by the American Wind Industry Association.s Christina
Real de Azua in the wake of the virtual nonperformance of California.s more than 13,000
wind turbines in mitigating the electricity crisis precipitated by last July.s .heat storm..
.You really don.t count on wind energy as capacity,. she said. .It is different from other
technologies because it can.t be dispatched.. (84) The press reported her comments
solemnly without question, without even a risible chortle. Because they perceive time to
be running out on fossil fuels, and the lure of non-polluting wind power is so seductive,
otherwise sensible people are promoting it at any cost, without investigating potential
negative consequences-- and with no apparent knowledge of even recent environmental
history or grid operations.
Eventually, the pedal of wishful thinking and political demagoguery will meet the
renitent metal of reality in the form of the Second Law of Thermodynamics (85) and
public resistance, as it has in Denmark and Germany. Ironically, support for industrial
wind energy because of a desire for reductions in fossil-fueled power and their polluting
emissions leads ineluctably to nuclear power, particularly under pressure of relentlessly
increasing demand for reliable electricity. Environmentalists who demand dependable
power generation at minimum environmental risk should take care about what they wish
for, more aware that, with Rube Goldberg machines, the desired outcome is unlikely to
be achieved. Subsidies given to industrial wind technology divert resources that could
otherwise support effective measures, while uninformed rhetoric on its behalf distracts
from the discourse.and political action-- necessary for achieving more enlightened
Extracts from the attached promotional piece. The full report may be purchased from ABS.
This report published by the British Ornithologists’ Union provides an important look at bird migration behavior over water and the potential for collision with offshore wind energy turbines. The authors recommend "abandonment of wind farms in zones with dense migration, turning off turbines on nights predicted to have adverse weather and high migration intensity, and actions to make wind turbines more recognizable to birds, including modification of the illumination to intermittent rather than continuous light, as the most appropriate mitigation measures." An excerpt of the Executive Summary appears below. The full report can be downloaded from this webpage.
International Experience With Implementing Wind
Energy examines the relative costs, advantages and disadvantages
of wind generation. In addition, the report
explores infrastructure issues, public attitudes toward
wind development, and the various policy instruments
used to support the development of wind energy in
countries that are leaders in implementing wind energy.
Concept for a step-by-step extension of the transmission grid in Germany
for the connection and integration of wind turbines onshore and
offshore taking into account the production and
power station developments and the
necessary regulating and reserve power.
A reasonably priced and reliable electricity supply is an important location factor for the
development of an economy. Against this background, it is necessary to investigate the
demands placed on the entire system for the generation and transmission of electrical energy,
which in future must again be optimised for the integration of the inevitably increasing
amount of electricity generated from wind energy. The economic effects resulting from this
must also be determined. Maintaining the current level of reliability of supply must be
included here as an important boundary condition....
If you really want to cut energy consumption, reduce pollution, improve public health and protect our environment, it’s time to contact your elected officials, educate them about the lessons of Denmark, Germany and elsewhere, and tell them you want tougher energy efficiency measures instead of wind power plants.
Otherwise, in the next few years, you’ll be looking at wind turbines in some of your favorite places, with the knowledge that they’re doing little more than funneling your tax dollars to a few lucky corporations and landowners, and away from better solutions.
Lessons Learned: E.ON Netz GmbH, the largest grid operator in Germany, reports in its Wind Report 2005, that "Wind energy cannot replace conventional power stations to any significant extent...The more wind power capacity [on] the grid, the lower the percentage of traditional generation it can replace."
E.ON Netz manages the transmission grid in Schleswig-Holstein and Lower Saxony, about a third of Germany, hosting 6,250 MW of Germany's 14,250 MW installed wind-generating capacity at the end of 2003. This report focuses on the operational challenges and costs associated with the intensive use of wind power due to wind's variability and unpredictability.