Germany’s Green Energy Policy Is A ‘Disaster,’ Says Man Who Helped Design It


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Andrew Follett Energy and Science Reporter
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A professor who helped develop Germany’s global warming plan is now calling the scheme to increase green energy use a “disaster.”

Germany’s “Energiewende” plan was originally intended to boost the amount of wind and solar power the country uses to fight global warming. However, the country’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions haven’t significantly decreased and may have actually gone up due to the inherent unreliability of wind and solar power.

“[E]ven if we triple wind energy capacity, power generation will remain near zero when the wind stops blowing,” Dr. Fritz Vahrenholt, a professor who was once the head of green energy for the Germany utility RWE, said in an interview with a Swiss newspaper. “The situation is similar for solar energy, especially at night. Solar energy only works full time 8% of the year.”

Vahrenholt went up to call green energy policies a “disaster” in the interview, the transcript of which will soon be released in its entirety.

Vahrenholt stated that paying for wind and solar power was inherently expensive, costing the country over $1.1 trillion so far, and often required paying power companies to generate electricity to prevent damage to the power grid.

“When too much power is fed in, grid operators order wind parks to shut down — yet they continue to be paid even when they do not produce,” Vahrenholt said. “That is now costing one billion euros a year, and that is indeed absurd!”

Energiewende already forced wind farms to pay $548 million last year to switch off in order to prevent damage to the electric grid, according to a survey of power companies by the German newspaper Wirtschaftswoche.

Vahrenholt noted that Germany’s high power prices were hurting the country’s competitiveness as well as unpredictable electricity prices scared off investors.

“One does not invest in a country when he/she is not sure how energy prices will develop,” Vahrenholt continued. “In addition to the price, supply stability also plays an important role. It decreases with every new wind turbine.”

All of Germany’s subsidies and support for green energy have sharply increased power prices, with the average German paying 39 cents per kilowatt-hour for electricity. The average American only spends 10.4 cents per kilowatt-hour by comparison.

Germany’s power grid almost collapsed in January due to poor performance from wind turbines and solar panels, according to data from a major trade union. Wind and solar power plants under-performed that month because of cloudy weather with little or no wind, setting the stage for massive blackouts. The country’s power grid was strained to the absolute limit and could have gone offline entirely, triggering a national blackout, if just one power plant had gone offline.

Germany was forced to recommission coal power plants to simply keep the lights on. The country’s green energy plans calls for the shut down of 30 such power plants by 2019.

As a result of green energy’s rampant unreliability, Germany plans to cap the total amount of wind energy at 40 to 45 percent of national capacity, according to a report published by the German newspaper Berliner Zeitung. Germany will get rid of 6,000 megawatts of wind power capacity by 2019.

Due to the inherent unreliable performance of wind power and political opposition to nuclear power plants, Germany has been forced to return to coal to generate electricity. Coal now provides 44 percent of  Germany’s power,  This shift caused Germany’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions to actually rise by 28 million tons each year following the policy shift.

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