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Germany’s Horrendous Energy Mistakes Are Costing Its Citizens Dearly

image credit: Germany’s Energy Mistakes
Benjamin Roussey's picture
Freelance Writer Arizona

Benjamin Roussey is from Sacramento, CA but now lives in Arizona. His bachelor’s degree is from CSUS (1999) where he was on a baseball pitching scholarship and he completed 4 years in the US...

  • Member since 2016
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  • Jan 23, 2019

Energiewende, Germany’s energy transformation program, has made the country a world leader in renewable energy. Germany strategically planned a transition to a low-carbon and nuclear-free economy, and Energiewende was their grand solution to that.

This ambitious transformation allowed the country to expand its renewable energy capacity at a large scale. This enabled the Germans to cut down on coal and other traditional power sources and phase out nuclear power almost entirely.

Wrong Move Germany

But this fanciful mishandling of the country’s energy security has come at a great cost. Now the German consumers are being forced to pay hefty ‘green surcharges’ in addition to their monthly power bills.

This has made electricity a lot more expensive than before and consumers are not happy. The higher electricity prices are also causing German businesses to suffer financially.

In addition, wind and solar power are intermittent resources; they can only generate power for the grid when the wind is blowing or the sun is shining. If the day is especially windy or sunny, it could actually create oversupply and strain the power grid of Germany and its neighboring countries.

A Step in the Wrong Direction

Germany was one of the first countries to realize the consequences of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and over-utilization of non-renewable energy resources but so what? Lots of countries know about this but incorporating kneejerk reactions is ridiculous. That’s why they adopted a country-wide energy transformation program called Energiewende around 8 years ago.

Germany’s journey to a cleaner and greener future hasn’t been really successful as already insinuated.

Over the last decade, their greenhouse gas emissions and emissions from the transportation sector haven’t gone down at all. (The US, on the other hand, has been successful at reducing their carbon emissions in both real and nominal forms while increasing jobs and becoming an energy powerhouse.)

According to the Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel, Germany needs to admit that their efforts toward building a greener world have been unsuccessful and need to be reviewed. The German Chancellor was attending a climate meeting in Berlin last June when she admitted that Germany needs to re-work its energy approach.

According to Bloomberg News, Germany spent around $28.4 billion (25 billion euros) in subsidies on its renewable energy sector. And it is expected to spend more than $580 billion (500 billion euros) by 2025 in order to renovate its entire energy system.

Obviously, this requires a major expansion of Germany's power grid if the complete conversion to renewable energy is to work in the long run and this would not be possible at all if they did not rely on America for military protection.

Where was Obama on that? Trump was right to call out the Europeans for spending enough on their military but we are still in Germany. How come our soldiers have not been moved to Poland or been brought back home?

Wind Energy Plans Gone Haywire

The good news for this sector is that the wind farms in the country generate a significant amount of power since they are located in the northern part of Germany.

But the bad news is that most of the German factories are located in the south. A total of 5,000 miles of transmission lines are being constructed to remedy that. And guess who’s paying for that? Obviously – the people of Germany.

If that wasn’t enough of a bummer, here’s more. A lot of the times, the wind farms in Germany produce more energy than their grid can handle, thanks to the strong winds. This causes major overloading of power lines, leading to a lot of trouble for the utility consumers.

According to the Statistical Office of the European Union, Germany has one of the highest electricity prices for household consumers. Only Daryl Hannah and Matt Damon other rich elitists think that is something to smile about.

Most German economists now agree that the grid expansion plans of the country should have been modified a long time ago. However, it seems that it is now near-impossible to reverse the nation’s energy mess-up quickly.

They should have never abandoned fossil fuels now they have to buy natural gas from the Russians which is hilarious. But they should be buying natural gas from us in the next few years which is just fine. Germany is not as smart as Texas – Germany has not been smart at all. Kind of like California and New York!

Nathan Wilson's picture
Nathan Wilson on Jan 25, 2019

Energiewende is not quite what you make it out to be Benjamin.

A more accurate (and equally cynical) view is that Energiewende is a plan to appease Germany renewable energy enthusiasts without harming German industry, especially the coal industry.  Most of the extra cost of the system is born by households, which helps protect industry. 

Most of the new renewable energy is being offset by nuclear plant closures.  The remaining new energy is being offset by exports to neighboring countries.  The German power plant companies have built innovative new coal-fired power plants which follow load as well as American gas fired plants; this makes them a perfect fit for a renewable-rich grid in Germany and neighboring countries (to the extend they can spread their coal+renewables vision).  It also makes their electricity just a dirty as ever (emitting huge amounts of CO2, particulates, sulfur, mercury, etc).

The nuclear plant closures, of course, do nothing to benefit the environment.  The accidents they fear are exceptionally rare, and not very dangerous anyway.

I make no complaint at all that they choose to pay extra for renewable energy; that's their choice.  But their choice of coal instead of nuclear for their dispatchable component is environmentally reprehensible.

Nathan Wilson's picture
Nathan Wilson on Jan 25, 2019

It is also interesting to know that Germany has only somewhat more wind-power penetration than Texas (at 19% for Germany versus 15% for Texas: LBNL data for 2017).

Texas has been smarter about it though.  Texas has actually completed their transmission expansion:  they put their wind farms out west where few people have to look at them, and they built the transmission to bring the power to Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio where it is needed.   

Texas is going very slow with solar (it is only a few percent the size of the wind industry there).  Texas is much sunnier and windier than Germany, but windpower is still much cheaper in Texas, due to the higher capacity factors.

Most importantly for clean air, Texas has a lot of fossil gas on their grid and they aren't rushing to prematurely close their nuclear plants.  Coal-fired electricity is already down to about 25%, and this will likely continue to drop faster than in Germany, in spite of Germany's greater spending on clean energy.

Benjamin Roussey's picture
Benjamin Roussey on Jan 25, 2019

Outstanding feedback Nathan. The point is Germany's energy policy is comical and their socialist president has already admitted that. She finally admitted that point. 

Benjamin Roussey's picture
Benjamin Roussey on Jan 25, 2019

If coal is burned cleanly there is nothing wrong with that. I am glad there is new innovations in regards to nuclear. Texas is outstanding and the envy of the world - certainly people who are honest and not infected with political correctness. 

Germany has lots of issues and their behavior is reprehensible. The refuse to spend enough money to satisfy NATO's requirements which is defending them against Russia but then they choose to do large gas deals with Russia and not America when America - us - are defending them. That is preposterous.

I wish Trump would pull troops out of Germany and put them in Poland or bring them home. NATO is flawed and America should pull out of NATO but that is another topic.

Germany again is all jacked up. Hopefully they start buying alot more of our natural gas because of American ingenuity America is an energy giant. Does New York and California want to get in on this action or continue to be bankrupt violent disgraceful states?????????????????????????????????????????????????

Benjamin Roussey's picture
Thank Benjamin for the Post!
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