We have to talk about Germany

The bottom line for people in Canberra who are too busy to read to the end is that German emissions have not gone down since 2009.

Australia has a lot to learn from the German experience with renewable energy. Their program is called the Energiewende, the German dream of a green energy transformation.

The roots of the dream are in the anti-nuclear protests of the 1970s although the British policy analyst Rupert Darwall in Green Tyranny traced it further back to the long tradition of environmental fundamentalism in Germany.

In the 1980s the German Greens became a political power. Activists started to use the term Energiewende and climate change entered the discourse.

In 1991 came feed-in tariffs followed by a comprehensive Renewable Energy Act in 2000 and a commitment to phase out nuclear energy by 2022.

In 2007 the European Union set ambitious environmental/energy targets. It was all 20s. The target date was 2020, the aim for the percentage of renewable energy share was 20, likewise greenhouse gas reduction and increased energy efficiency.

Angela Merkel emerged as the political leader of the movement and Germany became the flagship in the European green energy fleet. There was enthusiasm in many other places, Spain, Denmark, Britain, South Australia but Germany was the great role model.

In 2011 they embarked on a new round of Energiewende action. They upped the ante for greenhouse gas reductions to 40% by 2020, 55% by 2030 and up to 95% by 2050. The target for renewables in final energy consumption was set for 60% by2050 and the target for green gross power use was 80% in 2050.

Then surprisingly the annual monitoring report on progress with the transformation did not appear in 2016 and 2017. During that time the formation of a government was delayed amidst growing concern about the cost and effectiveness of the transition.

The leadership of the trade union movement became agitated. They bought into the dream of green jobs in the early days but 130,000 solar panel jobs went to China and the process is being repeated with wind turbines. Over 8000 jobs in the industry were slated for redundancy last year.

The cost of green jobs turned out to be enormous. The humorous Dutch commentator van Ulzen reported that the jobs on offshore wind platforms cost 50 times more than normal jobs elsewhere. He contemplated the number of teachers, road maintenance workers and nurses that they could have got for the money. His whimsical reflections and the machine translation from Dutch gives him some interesting turns of phrase.

With the €20 billion green subsidy losses per year, Germany could have paid 500,000 teachers, agents or hands on the bed. If necessary in green uniform.

This year the 6th Energiewende Monitoring Report appeared with an admission of failure on all three sides of the so-called “energy policy target triangle”- supply security, affordability and emission reduction. The report did not concede defeat, it recommended that the transformation should have a higher political priority.

In reality the failure is comprehensive. As to reliability, the grid staggers on the brink of collapse if any congruence of unfavourable conditions occurs. On affordability Germany tops the cost of energy league table with Denmark and South Australia.

The killer blow is the failure of emission reduction – the very rationale for the whole Energiewende adventure. Even the rose-tinted glasses worn by the PR team at Green Energy Wire do not obscure the facts in the chart they reproduced in the 2018 edition of A Reporter’s Guide to the Energiewende. It shows that the downward trend in emissions from 1991 hit the wall in 2009 with no progress in the best part of a decade to 2017.

So much for the Energiewende. Is anyone in Canberra watching?

This entry was posted in Global warming and climate change policy, Rafe. Bookmark the permalink.

29 Responses to We have to talk about Germany

  1. Shy Ted

    They’re all watching but like socialism, they’ve been doing it wrong and Canberra knows how to get it right.

  2. Elle

    Good work Rafe.

    I second that. An interesting read. Thank you, Rafe

    Is anyone in Canberra watching?

    Clearly not. Who does their research? Blind Freddie it would seem.

  3. Bruce of Newcastle

    Germans like to try to conquer the world occasionally. The Romans were wise to this, and periodically sent in the legions to disabuse them of their glorious manifest destiny.

    We haven’t had a German brainfart for a while, not since mid last century anyway. So we’re due.

    The legions metaphorically need to be sent in once again.

  4. Muddy

    To learn, one would need to possess both a capacity and a willingness.

  5. min

    In Germany in May we noticed that in groups of turbines that many were not working . It seems that costly maintenance had not been done ,the turbines are now 15 plus years old and starting to fall to pieces. Blades are not recyclable and the concrete , 20 metres deep I believe has interfered with aquifers. They also closed down a pumped hydro system because too costly to run. They are building new coal fired power stations and using lignite .

  6. Gan Do

    I have developed a new green mini generator driven by friction applied to a series of rollers. Each generation set is to be buried in urban roadways at each street corner under the bike paths. In discussion with the Australian Greens they have assured me that when the Labor party is elected they will pressure Bill Shorten to ban all motor vehicles thus ensuring sufficient bicycle power to run each Australian city. The future is secure!

  7. Jonesy

    Green power from Germany’s north is so marvelous…except when it causes problems in Poland and the Czech republic. Millions have beens spent by Germany’s neighbours by installing phase shifting transformers on the interconnectors to keep Germany’s green power in Germany.

  8. None

    We should have new to the joint at the end of the war instead of rebuilding it. Germany busy f****** up Europe for the third time in a century.

  9. Tel

    It was dependency on outsiders for food and fuel that helped defeat Germany in two world wars (they are easily blockaded), and I’m guessing they still ponder on that from time to time.

    That pipe dream of self sufficiency must be kind of tempting… especially when you consider that the other option would be to stringently refrain from starting any wars, but that’s like telling people in power that there’s something they aren’t allowed to do.

  10. Entropy

    Sure, Tel. But all that investment in alt energy seems to be increasing their dependency on power from other countries as backup, or more truthfully, their main source of power.

  11. H B Bear

    You just know that Hitler would have been a big windmill fan.

  12. It really won’t matter how all of this fails elsewhere around the world, Australian politicians, public servants, academics, media and other hangers-on have always had a view that they can do better. They think it just hasn’t been done properly and Australia can show the way.

    It’s just like all those who keep suggesting that Socialism hasn’t worked because it hasn’t been done properly. Socialism has been applied properly and fully, and the results you see is that of Socialism working at its finest.

  13. RobK

    Those green jobs in Australia are a flight of the imagination also. A little in installation and a few in maintenance. Whilst it costs more in labour per MWh the yeild of MWh per MW installed is so low, costs will be high and demand low. Nameplate capacity factors of 10-30% dont include extra line losses, conditioning, storage losses etc. We’d be better off without it, by a long way. No cross subsidies. Get the economy going again.

  14. Roger

    So much for the Energiewende. Is anyone in Canberra watching?

    Judging from last night’s interview on 7:30, Morrison is oblivious.

    Leigh Sales evidently understands we can’t meet our Paris emissions targets without ditching coal and subsidising unreliables, which is exactly what the states are doing, thereby setting us up for price increases. Morrison resorts to rhetoric about applying a ‘big stick’ to power companies. That stick, wielded by the Commonwealth, will be powerless to control the price increases necessary to cover the platinum plating of the grid necessary for it to cope with unreliables. We’ll have increases of over $1000 a year before long, and less reliable supply to boot, and that with households already under financial pressure .

    Morrison’s intent to sidestep, rather than deal with, the issue that saw Turnbull kicked out, means his tenure as PM won’t be long. Mind you, neither will Electricity Bill’s be either. It’s the electricity, stupid!

  15. Ellen of Tasmania

    The report did not concede defeat, it recommended that the transformation should have a higher political priority.

    Gee – novel idea, Mr. Report. Never heard that from tax-eaters before.

  16. don coyote

    So much for the Energiewende. Is anyone in Canberra watching?

    “Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing ever happened.”
    ― Winston S. Churchill

  17. Mark M

    We have to talk about due diligence and accountability …

    7 July 2011: Germany will use fossil fuels to plug nuclear gap
    https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn20665-germany-will-use-fossil-fuels-to-plug-nuclear-gap/

    13 July 2011: Germany to fund new coal plants with climate change cash
    “The German government wants to encourage the construction of new coal and gas power plants with millions of euros from a fund for promoting clean energy and combating climate change.”
    https://www.thelocal.de/20110713/36277

  18. Norman Church

    Only a fool could have believed that increasing reliance on intermittent power sources would lower prices. The reverse outcome was always obvious from an engineering viewpoint and there were clear warnings from the experiences of countries such as Germany in implementing Green energy policies.

    More fundamentally, higher energy prices do no represent a flaw in the system. An increase in energy prices is precisely the outcome that was intended to be achieved in order to drive conditions necessary for the emergence of this miraculous new technology that I an constantly told is just around the corner. Can’t say that I am holding my breath.

    The fact that demand for energy is largely inelastic for many consumers is also apparently neither here nor there.

    In truth, our energy is policy is simply an odious surrender to Green rent-seekers and nutty virtual signallers of the Doctors’ wives, Canberra Press Gallery and the ABC/Fairfax variety.

  19. wozzup

    In politics the point is never really to get results. The point is to APPEAR virtuous. If you SEEM virtuous, then the job is done. Green politics is still politics. In fact Green politics is ALL politics. Which is also let’s not forget, about spending other people’s money – to by your virtue.

  20. Forest Stylist

    Unlike Australia ,biomass burning in Germany generates about the same power as solar and about half of what wind does. Many of the fuels would not qualify as renewables if burnt in Australia .

  21. Dr Fred Lenin

    The lack of maintenance on the German windmills is hardly surprising ,carpetbagging thieves will never put money into a wasted effort like that as long as the subsidies are going into the Cayman Islands accounts ,once they get their greedy mitts on other peoples money they never let go . Wonder how much of our taxes ended up in the Cayman Account of the late prime monster? Lying there alongside the Goldman Sachs stolen funds ,and of course soros (“ schwartz) and al gore maybe obummer and the theiving Clinton’s . God there are some shit people in the world today, aren’t there ?

  22. NuThink

    @wozzup In politics the point is never really to get results. The point is to APPEAR virtuous.

    But most importantly it is to keep oneself (and friends and cronies) permanently on the public teat.

  23. NuThink

    It is possible to derive 100% of your electricity from so called renewables, as long as you only want part time electricity. Not sure how you renew energy but our betters tell us that they it is possible so it must be so, as they would not tell us porkies.

  24. tombell

    This government is committed to Paris. Ask Frydenberg. Half the “Liberal” party room is committed to Paris (the other half to bullying… apparently). The bob each way approach of Morrison will only last so long. Beyond parody.

  25. Pyrmonter

    Pause for a minute when invoking ‘South Australia’ as a by-word for renewable enthusiasm, and recall that that state is ‘blessed’ with the best locations in the country for wind power. Then consider the effect of the national RET.

    While some local left politicians have gladly been along for the renewables ride, the driver was the RET and NEM, not local policy.

  26. Howard Hill

    Dr Fred Lenin
    #2814829, posted on September 12, 2018 at 10:45 am

    Dr Fred Lenin gets it!

  27. NuThink

    @Norman Church. Only a fool could have believed that increasing reliance on intermittent power sources would lower prices. The reverse outcome was always obvious from an engineering viewpoint and there were clear warnings from the experiences of countries such as Germany in implementing Green energy policies.

    It is similar to an employer who increases the number of employees yet thinks the wages bill goes down. That is how the greens think anyway.

  28. Craig

    Fuck no Rafe, why would these ####’s in Canberra be watching anything except their own job security and gold plated pension schemes?

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