Articles filed under Energy Policy from Germany
In total, the network operators hope to collect more than 20 billion euros to subsidise renewable energies. ..."The increase in this charge is manageable for many households, but there are also very poor, low-income households which could be negatively affected by this type of price rise," she said.
The draft bill endorsed by Chancellor Angela Merkel's Cabinet of Ministers would make power consumers pay as much as 0.25 euro cents a kilowatt-hour if wind farm owners can't sell their electricity because of delays in connecting turbines to the grid. The plan is aimed at raising investments after utilities threatened to halt projects.
Grid operators are reluctant to build power lines at sea because they have to pay compensation should they break down. So many wind farms could lack the means to transfer the power they are generating back to the mainland. The government is trying to pass on those costs to power consumers to reduce the risk for investors.
At issue is the German Renewable Energy Act, which requires power companies to buy wind and solar energy from producers at fixed prices, which are much higher than electricity produced by traditional methods such as coal- and natural gas-fired power plants. At the same time, power-hungry industries receive generous subsidies ...German consumers have to cough up the difference.
Germany's largest utilities RWE and EON AG (EOAN) are shunning cleaner-burning natural gas because it's more costly, while the collapsing cost of carbon permits means there's little penalty for burning coal. Wind and solar projects, central to Germany's plans to reduce nuclear energy and cut the release of heat- trapping gases, can't produce electricity around the clock.
Sudden fluctuations in Germany's power grid are causing major damage to a number of industrial companies. While many of them have responded by getting their own power generators and regulators to help minimize the risks, they warn that companies might be forced to leave if the government doesn't deal with the issues fast.
In an interview with German weekly newspaper Die Zeit, Altmaier said “with 35 percent of power from renewable sources, that still leaves 65 percent to be covered. It makes sense to replace old brown and black coal-fired plants which aren't good for the environment with modern and efficient coal and gas-fired power plants.”
German plans to cut carbon emissions with renewable energy are ambitious, but they are also risky.
Germany's revolutionary switch to renewable energies is stalling and the country's new environment minister has now admitted as much by casting doubt on the ambitious goals set last year. Media commentators say that he and the rest of Chancellor Merkel's government must do more.
Solar subsidies cost German consumers billions of dollars a year and are widely regarded as inefficient. Even environmentalists are concerned that Berlin's focus on solar comes at the detriment of other renewables. But the solar industry has a powerful lobby, and politicians have proven powerless to resist.
Almost a year after Germany decided to shift away from nuclear power and sharply raise production from renewable sources, critics doubt that the move will go ahead as scheduled. The government has so far failed to present a plan for filling the gap in its future energy capacity, as the switch has proven more difficult than initially thought.
The aspect of the energy policy that has drawn the greatest criticism, however, is the fact that it has been accompanied by higher electricity prices for companies and consumers alike. ...Germany's largest steelmaker, ThyssenKrupp, even blamed the policies for the sale of one of its steel mills. European Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger has even warned: "High electricity prices have already initiated deindustrialization in Germany."
Germany's energy revolution has hardly begun, but it's already running out of steam. There is a lack of political decisiveness and companies are complaining of a dearth of incentives to invest billions in necessary infrastructure. Progress or no progress, taxpayers continue footing the bill.
"We're seeing a major step backward regarding clean-energy jobs because of a lack of strategic industry policy coming from the federal government," Steffen Streu, a spokesman for the economy ministry in Brandenburg, said. "It was always said that each coal job given up will re-emerge in the renewable sector. That's not the case at the moment."
There is no sign yet of the green economic miracle that the federal government promised would accompany Germany's new energy strategy. On the contrary, many manufacturers of wind turbines and solar panels complain that business is bad and are cutting jobs. Some solar companies have already gone out of business. The environmental sector faces a number of problems, especially -- and ironically -- those stemming from high energy prices.
The costs of subsidizing solar electricity have exceeded the 100-billion-euro mark in Germany, but poor results are jeopardizing the country's transition to renewable energy. The government is struggling to come up with a new concept to promote the inefficient technology in the future.
The wind farm operator, German utility RWE, has to keep the sensitive equipment -- the drives, hubs and rotor blades -- in constant motion, and for now that requires diesel-powered generators. Because although the wind farm will soon be ready to generate electricity, it won't be able to start doing so because of a lack of infrastructure to transport the electricity to the mainland and feed it into the grid. The necessary connections and cabling won't be ready on time and the delay could last up to a year.
In eastern Germany, turbines in strong wind can produce more than all German coal and gas plants put together, while the need to switch off turbines in high winds causes a drop-off in electricity of 12GW - equal to two nuclear power plants. Outages are likely if there is too little demand or storage capacity to accommodate the jumps in supply.
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.