Library filed under Energy Policy from Germany
Green energy used to be Germany's great hope for its economic future. But now the German solar industry is in trouble amid huge losses, job cuts and the threat of bankruptcies. Chinese firms are gaining an ever greater share of the German market -- and are benefiting from German subsidies for renewable energy.
"Germany, in a very rash decision, decided to experiment on ourselves," he said. "The politics are overruling the technical arguments." ...To be prudent, the plan calls for the creation of 23 gigawatts of gas- and coal-powered plants by 2020. Why? Because renewable plants don't produce nearly to capacity if the air is calm or the sky is cloudy, and there is currently limited capacity to store or transport electricity, energy experts say.
"It is important that we remain competitive in comparison with other countries. If not, a company of global stature like Bayer can think about moving its production to countries where energy costs are lower," he said.
Offshore wind parks are often hailed as the future of renewable energy in Germany. But they actually lag far behind their terrestrial counterparts. ...Meanwhile dissent is growing amongst citizen groups who dislike the presence of turbines on their doorsteps.
Germany plans to shut down its last nuclear power plant in 2022. It's an ambitious timetable. But even more ambitious is its plan to replace that energy with renewable sources, such as wind and solar power. If the plan works, within 40 years Germany will get 80 percent of its power from "renewables." But there are major challenges.
Mr Vogt says he is sceptical about the timing of the renewables phase-in. "The public accepts projects only when it can see the sense in them," he says. "We need politics to help us with that. We need to tell people the switch to renewables will not come without costs."
The study by the WBGU is utopian because it requires a high degree of idealism, altruism and sacrifice by both individuals and society that goes beyond the normal dimensions of the reality of life. It is impossible to realize democratically. Why should people around the world voluntarily give up their demands for material welfare and security? Consequently, the WBGU admits frankly, that the decarbonization of the society can only be achieved by the limitation of democracy – both nationally and internationally.
Shutting down reactors earlier than planned would require greater efforts to increase the share of renewables, build new power lines and reduce overall energy consumption to ensure Germany would meet its climate protection targets. It also may involve building new coal- or natural gas-fired power stations to provide base-load capacity.
According to Frondel, things haven't worked out as Germany's politicians and environmentalists said they would. Rather than bringing economic benefits in terms of lower cost energy and green energy jobs, Frondel found that implementing wind and solar power raised household energy rates by 7.5 percent. While greenhouse gas emissions were abated, the cost was astonishingly high.
The German government plans to replace nuclear reactors with thousands of wind turbines and thousands of kilometers of high-voltage "monster masts" in a move that will deface vast swathes of territory. Germans, though desperate to phase out atomic energy, are gearing up to protest against the green revolution.
Both the environmentalist Greens and Social Democrats (SPD), who enacted legislation under ex-chancellor Gerhard Schroeder that created the basis for a boom in solar investment, said they were open to paring back assistance the industry receives. "In view of recent developments, a measured reduction in allowances for photovoltaics is definitely possible."
Europe's energy consumers must pay 20 cents per kWh generated, plus an additional 5 cents per kWh for transmission costs. They must pay this regardless of whether they need the electricity at the moment, and despite the fact that a kWh of wind electricity is worth less than 3 cents on the Leipzig Power Exchange, due to the intermittent and highly variable nature of wind.
The levy on nuclear-plant operators is meant to support renewable energy. "It's probably detrimental for offshore," Hodges said. "Keeping that much nuclear power online means electricity prices will be stable and maybe even with some downside potential. That suggests less investment" in wind energy.
When industries look for government subsidies for money-losing propositions, a common business model these days, one of the most important strategic elements is to make sure you have a well-oiled public relations machine to keep the facts from getting in the way. Voters don't like to back money-losers, which means keeping them steadily misinformed or at least confused. Renewable energy industries - wind, solar, biomass, human treadmills - have a particularly tough job.
As the workforce at the only wind-turbine factory in Britain was laid off at the end of April, Rene Umlauft, boss of the renewable-energy division of Siemens, the industrial giant, was enjoying a run of turbine sales. He had sold more than 120 in Britain, Turkey and at home in Germany.
There are much cheaper ways to reduce carbon dioxide emissions than subsidizing renewable energies. CO2 abatement costs of PV are estimated to be as high as $1,050 per ton, while those of wind power are estimated at $80 per ton. By contrast, the current price of emissions certificates on the European emissions trading scheme is only 13.4 (Euro) per ton. ...Moreover, the prevailing coexistence of the EEG and emissions trading under the European Trading Scheme (ETS) means that the increased use of renewable energy technologies generally attains no additional emission reductions beyond those achieved by ETS alone.
The six offshore wind turbines that REpower Systems began erecting near Germany's coast in 2004 make their older cousins look like pinwheels. Each one has three 61.5-meter blades, which in a good breeze make one revolution every 5 seconds, producing 5 megawatts of electric power. Inspired by Germany's bold vision for capturing offshore wind energy, these majestic machines are designed to withstand anything the famously unforgiving North Sea can dish out. And yet, these turbines have never felt the spray of salt water.
The German government and energy companies have made a big fanfare about their plans to build offshore wind parks in the North Sea. However the financial crisis is forcing several projects to be put on hold, with smaller companies in particular feeling the pinch. ...While the big energy firms have deep pockets for the development of renewal energy, the smaller companies are feeling the pinch.
Germany has yet to follow Denmark's zeal in erecting offshore wind farms
The idea was that, in the intervening years, electricity produced with renewable energy technologies would grow to the point that the shift away from nuclear would hardly be noticed. That, though, is looking increasingly unlikely. Despite a decade of massive investment and generous programs established to promote wind, solar and biomass power generation, green energy sources make up just 14 percent of the country's energy supply. Even if that were to double in the near future, the lion's share of Germany's energy consumption would have to come from elsewhere. Without nuclear power, "elsewhere" in Germany necessarily means coal-fired power plants.