“Electric Poverty” and Germany’s Green Energy Disaster

Germany is one of Europe’s most reliable economies and yet its bungled attempts at switching from reliable nuclear power to “Green Energy” has led to a complete disaster. And it’s something that we should be paying attention to because Barack Obama and his band of Goreites have taken us down the same road to ruin.

The environment ministers, first Norbert Röttgen and then Peter Altmaier, behaved as if Germany’s phase-out of nuclear energy was not going to cost anything, even as they handed out billions in subsidies to owners of homes with solar panels and wind-farm operators.

And the impact on German businesses has been staggering.

Energy costs now represent the biggest liability for Germany as a place to do business, especially in light of the marked increase in the number of blackouts and voltage fluctuations in the grid.

And when businesses avoid setting up shop up in Germany that means less jobs and less money and more of a burden on existing German businesses and citizens. That’s how the progressive Ball of Economic Disaster begins rolling downhill.

With the new rates, German citizens will be paying a total of more than €20 billion ($25.7 billion) next year to promote renewable energy. This is more than €175 for an average three-person household, a 50 percent increase over current figures.

And it won’t end with a mere 25 billion dollar bill. And even that is taking millions of Germans into poverty territory.

The VdK, Germany’s largest welfare organization, uses the term “electricity poverty” and is sharply critical of what it sees as a “glaring violation of basic social rights.” According to the VdK, it is unfair that citizens are being asked to bear much of the burden of costs and risks associated with the energy turnaround.

Like most of the left, the advocates of the welfare state don’t seem to understand that it’s the citizens who always bear the costs, one way or another, no matter how the expenses are juggled or repackaged.

Meanwhile, the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) and the Green Party are discussing whether energy providers should be compelled to offer special rates for low-income customers.

And the special rates will be made up at the expense of the already overburdened Germany middle class who will be hit with even higher bills.

Meanwhile the technology infrastructure has become a lunatic’s idea of a joke.

Billions are currently being spent on the unchecked expansion of solar energy — a technology that contributes the least to a reliable power supply in Germany, which isn’t exactly famous for abundant sunshine.

How bad of an idea was the massive commitment to solar energy? Let’s interrupt Der Spiegel for a moment with a look at relative sunshine rates in Germany and the US.

Sunshine averages in Germany are in the 1600 hour range per year. Contrast that with my own hometown, which is a mostly cold and dreary place, especially this time of year, still has nearly twice as much sunshine as the German average. Chicago, O’s hometown, 2500 hours a year. And Phoenix Arizona approaches the 4000 hour mark.

The other thing about sunshine and wind is that unlike splitting atoms, the weather is erratic and unpredictable. Here’s the fun that wind energy brought to the German economy.

Thanks to a flood of subsidies unleashed by Angela Merkel’s government, renewable capacity has risen still further (solar, for instance, by 43 per cent). This makes it so difficult to keep the grid balanced that it is permanently at risk of power failures. (When the power to one Hamburg aluminium factory failed recently, for only a fraction of a second, it shut down the plant, causing serious damage.) Energy-intensive industries are having to install their own generators, or are looking to leave Germany altogether.

But back to Der Spiegel now,

In fact, Germans are even expected to pay for connecting offshore wind farms that aren’t producing any electricity. To make investing in these projects more attractive, the federal government has issued new liability rules. If there are delays in connecting a wind farm to the grid — for example, owing to a lack of cables for use in deep waters — electricity consumers will now be footing the bill instead of the companies. The costs of such delays are already estimated at about €1 billion.

So on the one hand, Green Energy programs shove subsidies at companies to create the half-assed green energy infrastructure. And on the other hand when the whole thing costs consumers too much, there are calls to pass the costs back to the companies. The entire schizophrenic circus is about to be repeated in the United States.

A kaiser still ruled Germany when the Franken 1 power plant generated electricity for the first time, almost 100 years ago. The plant was in fact slated for closure, but because of the energy turnaround, Franken 1 has been allowed to remain in operation.

This coming winter, on days when the sun isn’t shining and there is no wind, Bavarians could very well count themselves lucky that the old plant is still connected to the grid. The plant can produce more than 850 megawatts of electricity on short notice, says plant manager Wolfgang Althaus, albeit at a high cost.

Franken is part of the so-called cold reserve of the German energy supply. As long as there isn’t enough storage capacity, virtually every solar plant and every wind turbine has to be backed up by a conventional power plant. Without this double structure, the power supply would collapse.

It would appear that the Kaiser had far more common sense than the Green Kaisers running Germany now.

  • FPF

    It's always very easy to spent other people's money. If the policy makers are required to back up the success of their policies with their own personal properties, such disastrous trend might be greatly reduced.

  • PAthena

    On the island of Crete, there is a plain called Lasithi. Water needs to be pumped up for irrigation. Years ago, this was done by windmills – now known as "wind power" – but now mechanical pumps, powered either by fuel or electricity (I do not know which) do the job. The pumps were cheaper and more efficient than windmills.
    Windmills are no longer used in Holland, I believe.

    • ebonystone

      In the Netherlands in past centuries, when pumping water out of newly-diked areas to create new polders, windmills were used to power the pumps. But mechanical pumps have been used since the mid-19thc — first steam powered, then electircal. As you say, they're cheaper and more efficient.

  • ebonystone

    Some years ago, when German greens were proposing more green energy, I saw an article by a group of German electrical engineers, pointing out the problems inherent in relying on highly-variable green energy sources. Since wind and solar are both highly variable, the power network has to be able to switch rapidly to other sources. As long as wind is providing only 1% or 2% of the load, the switching is manageable. But when increased to theoretically providing 10-15% of the load, the switching becomes impossibly complex, with brown-outs and black-outs inevitable.

  • cynthiacurran

    Unfortunely,the Japanese Earthquake got the left more anti-nuke and even scare the non-left

  • cynthiacurran

    Unfortunely,the Japanese Earthquake got the left more anti-nuke and even scare the non-left

  • cynthiacurran

    Unfortunely,the Japanese Earthquake got the left more anti-nuke and even scare the non-left

  • http://www.covalin.com/ wall plate

    Fine, this is a highly input of you. I did not know before about electric poverty and Germany green energy disaster but the allocation you did here simply makes me knowable about this issue. Thanks for this informative segment.