A central building block of Germany's energy policy is to move away from coal and nuclear, towards wind. Fifteen-percent of German electricity now comes from wind, but costs are exploding. Under the EEG, the Act on Renewable Energies, consumers pay for the expansion of the facilities.
But what the wind lobby sells as a contribution to the rescue from climate change is, above all, one thing: A billion EURO business!
On Monday evening (9:45 pm), the ARD documentary "The Battle for Wind Turbines" showed how brutally the industry is spreading its message at the expense of man and nature.
Installations where no wind is blowing
Consumers have long been aware that their annual electricity prices are increasing. Eight billion euros alone have been apportioned to subsidize the German expansion of wind power.
What many do not know is that wind power plants are being placed in areas where no wind blows and in regions where the transmission networks are limited and unable to take the added energy. Nevertheless, the projects are built.
In their research the ARD journalists found clear evidence that in many municipalities, wind turbines were sited in areas belonging to local politicians. And they can vote in the local parliaments about whether the turbines are being built.
A mayor from southern Germany said: "It is a nice amount [of money]. Of course I did not object to it." He is paid EUR 10 000 per year to lease the land on which the turbine(s) sit.
These are not individual cases. The ARD team presented several municipalities, in which officials were captive and now receiving cash.
Prof. Michael Frey from the Kiel University of Applied Sciences criticized the local law expert: There are problems with such self-service, but in the country no one fights back.
How people suffer
26,000 wind turbines are now sited in Germany - and there are always more. Wherever you go, the politicians are the only ones who make the profit.
The property of the Reschke-Luin family in East Friesland is surrounded by wind turbines. At night, the lamps are flashing, the rotors are constantly buzzing. "We often can not sleep," they said.
They can not count on the support of nature conservationists. The BUND, who likes to be a lawyer for nature, is closely connected to the wind farm.
Harry Neumann, former regional chairman in Rhineland-Palatinate, left the organization over anger at BUND's policy. "It has lost its roots and is booming with lobbyists," he said.
Internal e-mails from BUND showed how the association is making lobbying work for the wind industry. So far the BUND is silent on bird species which are chopped and destroyed by the rotating blades. Even the BUND chairman admits that many members are active in the field of wind energy. This means that the association has no problem. At the same time, BUND and the Wind lobby are together calling for the expansion of wind energy in newspaper announcements.
Many residents feel disturbed by wind turbines and protests against the plants are growing.
Low-income earners pay lobbying policy
The losers of energy are the people who have little money. Nina Albig, a single mother, has two jobs, her electricity bill has doubled since 2008 to 90 euros.
"I'm desperate and do not know where the money will come from," she said.
Politicians have also recognized that the EEG is being put to the test. Subsidies are to be cut, more competition is to be made possible. A good idea but not for the wind lobby.
At a large energy protest in Berlin the Green Party Chairman shouted at Anton Hofreiter about the number of turbines. "We need wind turbines in order to save our planet," he cried. There was not a smaller number.
What the Green politician probably did not know was that many of the protest participants were employees of energy companies who are fighting for subsidies - and they brought their workers to Berlin by bus, of course, and paid for everything.
Bundestag delegates know how hard the industry is fighting. The SPD member Marcus Held reported that the lobby in his constituency influenced the party - so there is pressure on their deputies. CDU economist Michael Fuchs agreed: "The lobby is brutal and tries to influence parliamentarians."
And it was a success: when the Bundestag amended the EEG law in July, it was also decided to expand wind power further. CDU man Fuchs: "The lobby has caused more expansion than we had planned."
The consumers are asked to pay for all of this.
Translation from German to English completed using Google Translate