Articles filed under Energy Policy from Germany
Germany's decision to phase out of nuclear power after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan has also made it a significant buyer of U.S. coal, mostly because the commodity is so inexpensive. "Before the financial crisis, Europe was happy to favor the environment, but when the economy started not doing well, they weren't quite ready to accept the high power price."
A vision for a greener future for the world seems very distant if you descend into the heart of one of Germany's largest coal mines. While researchers and officials are in Berlin preparing the next report from the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the country's fossil fuel industry is as busy as ever.
Less than three years after Berlin embraced its new energy policy, a shifting global energy landscape is causing a rethink of the Energiewende inside and outside Germany. Foreign leaders, and plenty of pundits, blame the Energiewende for Europe's inability to answer Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Utilities, meanwhile, are bleeding money, slashing investments, and shutting down power plants.
The Greens' biggest triumph came with Germany's adoption of its Energiewende, the transition to renewable energy. The policy is a long-term bonanza for Gazprom. It means that Germany will buy more and more Russian gas because it cannot depend on electricity from unreliable wind and solar to power its industries and keep the lights on.
Electricity prices in Germany are already among the highest in the world. The price of industrial electricity has risen about 37 percent since 2005, according to the Federation of German Industries. The price in the United States has fallen by 4 percent over about the same time. The rise in energy prices has already cost Germany $52 billion in net exports and could prove even more damaging if steps are not taken to keep prices in check.
Germany is an example of how not to do green energy. Instead the solution is to research and develop better green energy technology. A study by some of the world’s top climate economists including three Nobel Laureates for the Copenhagen Consensus Center shows that subsidising existing renewables does so little good that for every euro spent, 97 cents are wasted. However, every euro spent on green innovation could avoid €11 in long-term damages from global warming.
Germans pay the highest electricity prices in Europe. Residential electricity prices, including taxes, are 60% higher in Berlin than in London, and are 40% above the euro-zone average. Germany’s energy minister, Sigmar Gabriel, recently estimated that the push to renewables is costing Germans €24 billion euros per year in higher bills. Were this to continue, Germany risked facing a “dramatic deindustrialization,” he said.
But in 2011, in the wake of the disaster at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi plant, the German government reversed course and put the nuclear plants back on the chopping block. That will leave a hole in the country's energy supply that renewables can't quickly fill, meaning fossil fuels will continue to be part of the German energy mix for a while longer. Since coal is the most greenhouse-gas-intensive fuel, coal's comeback could set back Germany's efforts to combat climate change.
Currently, public support for Energiewende is still high but the rising cost has become a growing concern, and last month the new energy minister, Sigmar Gabriel, vowed to cut subsidies for wind, solar and other renewables ...Unless the new government manages to reconcile national priorities with the dynamics of its federal system, the mood could quickly turn against Germany's green revolution.
Whoever thought power from the wind and sun is free? Germany has discovered that it is, in fact, very expensive indeed, and the nation is legislating a dramatic reversal in its support for renewable energy.
This subsidy is costly. The difference between the market price for electricity and the higher fixed price for renewables is passed on to consumers, whose bills have been rising for years. An average household now pays an extra €260 ($355) a year to subsidise renewables: the total cost of renewable subsidies in 2013 was €16 billion. Costs are also going up for companies, making them less competitive than rivals from America, where energy prices are falling thanks to the fracking boom.
The EU's reputation as a model of environmental responsibility may soon be history. The European Commission wants to forgo ambitious climate protection goals and pave the way for fracking -- jeopardizing Germany's touted energy revolution in the process.
The forced closure of RWE's Biblis nuclear power plant after the Fukushima accident was unlawful, the German Supreme Administrative Court has ruled. The utility is now likely to sue for considerable damages.
However, consumers also will have to pay 18% more for subsidies paid to renewable power producers in 2014 through the green levy, which is estimated to pay out some Eur21.5 billion ($29.3 billion) to eligible operators of renewable installations next year.
Germany’s wind and solar power production came to an almost complete standstill in early December. More than 23,000 wind turbines stood still. One million photovoltaic systems stopped work nearly completely. For a whole week coal, nuclear and gas power plants had to generate an estimated 95 percent of Germany’s electricity supply.
It is only one sentence in the coalition agreement, but it could mean the end of Germany’s green energy shift (Energiewende). The Christian Democrats (CDU) and Social Democrats (SPD) want to force the renewable industry to pay for conventional back-up energy generation.Translation provided by Philipp Mueller
The offices of German state-controlled lender HSH Nordbank, which had financed the wind park, were also searched, Retemeyer said. German wind turbine supplier Enercon said it had been visited but was not a target of the investigation. HSH Nordbank provided 225 million euros ($304.3 million) in financing for the 96 megawatt (MW) wind farm.
A love affair with renewables brings high prices, potential blackouts and worries about 'deindustrialization.'
The nationwide Energiewende, or energy revolution, aims to turn the country from nuclear over to renewable sources, like solar and wind. This policy, which has required the expansion of infrastructure and the construction of new wind farms, has resulted in steeply rising costs with, thus far, questionable environmental advantages.
Before the Obama Administration marches America to renewable-energy nirvana, it may want to inspect what success looks like in Europe. The Continent is much closer than the U.S. to realizing its dream of replacing carbon energy sources with wind and solar, and the dream is starting to look like a nightmare.