Guest essay by Fred F. Mueller
On April 16th, 2014, a few quite remarkable statements were delivered during a discussion event at the premises of SMA Solar Technology AG, a leading German producer of photovoltaic panels and systems:
“The truth is that the Energy U-Turn (“Energiewende”, the German scheme aimed at pushing the “renewable” share of electricity production to 80 % by 2050) is about to fail”
“The truth is that under all aspects, we have underestimated the complexity of the “Energiewende”
“The noble aspiration of a decentralized energy supply, of self-sufficiency! This is of course utter madness”
“Anyway, most other countries in Europe think we are crazy”
Had this been one of the small albeit growing number of German “sceptics” casting doubt upon the XXL-sized politico-economical scam that has cost the German populace more than € 500 billion since its inception in 2000, it would not have gotten more than a footnote in the local press, crammed somewhere in between “horoscope” and “lost and found”. In fact, the media actually tried to keep a lid on the facts by giving them as little coverage as possible.
But the man at the speaker’s desk was Sigmar Gabriel, acting vice-chancellor of the German government, Secretary of Commerce with responsibility for the said „Energiewende” and chairman of the German social democrats (SPD), the second-largest political force in the country. Since December 2013, he is in charge of taming the runaway costs and growing security of supply risks that are unmasking the financial and technical nightmare of this ill-conceived project. In the past few months, he seems to have gotten some unpleasant insights causing him to admit the above-mentioned inconvenient truths when he was pushed too far by a number of aggressive lobbyists of the “renewable energy” sector. Gabriel, famous for his irascible temper that once already resulted in a heated verbal exchange with a top-dog TV journalist live on air, appears to have become quite candid when he vented his anger during the debate.
He must have realized his own political fate is in jeopardy because the task he has been assigned has conducted him into a situation that will inevitably result in failure. With respect to electric energy generation, Germany has painted itself into a corner. Since the introduction of the “Renewable Energy” law (EEG) in 2000 aimed at replacing coal and gas-fired as well as nuclear power generation by so-called renewable energy sources, the household price for electricity has jumped by more than 200 %. German customers now pay the second-highest electricity prices in Europe. At the same time, the task of stabilizing the grid against the massive erratic influx from solar and wind power plants that produce without regard for actual need has pushed the operators to their limits. Now already, with a combined share of just some 13 % of total electricity production, their unreliable input is massively imperiling the stability of the grid.
Conventional power plants – the most important units able to compensate these detrimental effects – are being pushed out of the market and shuttered at increasing rates. At the same time, Germany’s CO2 output has not diminished because coal-fired units have had to take over from closed nuclear plants. Costs are set to rise further on a ballistic path while security of supply is in free fall. At the same time, Gabriel is subjected to intense pressure from a number of factions of the “renewable” energy sector asking for ever greater slices of a cake that cannot be financed much longer. Together with inconvenient truths about feasibility limits given to him by his technical staff, this pressure seems to have risen to a level that pushed him to lecture his harassers when their clamors transgressed his tolerance limit.
This rare incident where a leading politician loses control of his words to such a degree shows that the “crash boom bang” path the German way of mishandling energy policies has indeed reached a threshold where said politicians feel cornered and unable to uphold their usual “muddling through” approach. Long-ignored financial and technical rules re-emerge and will force the German political class to abandon their “renewable” energy strategy centering on solar and wind power generation. Since the only low CO2 alternative – nuclear power – has been deviled by all political parties and the media beyond any chance of short-term oblivion, Germany will soon have to revert to coal for its power needs. And that in turn implies the country will have to abandon all aspirations to lower its CO2 emissions. German politicians might soon find out that demonizing CO2 is becoming a speedy path to ruining their career. And given the importance of the country within Europe and the pioneering role it claimed in the international crusade against climate change by limiting CO2 emissions, this might well herald the start of a paradigm shift of epochal dimensions in the whole climate change debate.
Then Fast forward to the beginning of December - it's turning ugly. If even Patrick Graichen, Director of Germany's Agora Energiewende thinktank uses words such as "filthy blunder" the sign is on the wall.
“Energiewende” Takes A Massive Blow…Top Green Energy Proponent Concedes: “Blunder With Ugly Consequences”!
By P Gosselin on 9. Dezember 2014
German national weekly DIE ZEIT writes in its latest hard copy edition that one of Europe’s leading green energy thinkers now concedes Germany’s much ballyhooed Energiewende (transition to renewable energies) has been a “filthy blunder”.
Die Zeit 4 Dec 2014
Page 4 of December 4, 2014, edition of DIE ZEIT. “Filthy Blunder”
When the green movement itself makes such an admission, then you know Germany’s once highly ballyhooed Energiewende is truly in deep trouble, if not a basket case.
“Germany will not even come close to reaching targets”
Moreover, DIE ZEIT, an influential publication among Germany’s green centre-left, writes, “Germany will not even come close to reaching its climate target despite the massive investment in wind and solar energies.”
The admission is a massive blow to Germany’s renewable energies movement, whose troubles have long been played down or denied by its proponents.
So what has finally compelled Germany’s top greens to make such an astonishing admission? The facts show that although the Energiewende has led to a rapid expansion of wind and solar energies, it has also led to the unexpected increase in coal-fired power. Renewable energies have had the unintended effect of revitalizing coal as a source of energy. A horror for climate protection activists.
The 180° U-turn begins with Patrick Graichen, Director of the Agora Energiewende thinktank, which according to DIE ZEIT, is “the most influential school of thought for energy policy in Germany“. Graichen himself was formerly responsible for energy at the Federal Ministry of Environment.
Making the air dirtier
The DIE ZEIT feature article explains how Germany’s original plan had been to expand wind and solar so that they would first replace the country’s unwanted nuclear power plants, and then later the filthy coal power plants. The idea was to use natural gas power plants to even out the huge irregularities that come with the weather-dependent solar and wind power. And as green and power grid technology developed further, even gas eventually would be throttled down to a bare minimum, and so Germany would be propelled from being the world’s worst villain to a most loved hero – in less than a 100-year span. That was the dream.
But now green energy dreamers are being rudely awakened, and the reality looks very different. More CO2 is being produced. Die ZEIT writes:
It’s a blunder with ugly consequences. The Energiewende, as it is now set up, is not making the air cleaner, but dirtier.”
The problem, DIE ZEIT explains, is that the coal is much cheaper than natural gas. As a a consequence power generators are opting to even out the green power supply fluctuations with coal power instead of gas. But because coal power plants cannot be driven up and down quickly to respond to fluctuations in supply, power producers no longer even bother throttling them down when too much power is fed in by wind in sun. The coal power plants just keep on humming and emitting anyway – even when the power is not needed. In the end it’s still cheaper than operating gas plants. Result: gas plants are being closed down, coal is coming back.
Grotesque market distortions – negative prices
The requirement to feed in green power and all the extra unneeded coal-fired electricity are now causing grotesque distortions on the electricity markets. To illustrate the perverse market conditions, DIE ZEIT describes the events of Sunday, May 11, 2014, when so much wind and solar power was fed into the grid that the power became worthless on the market and at times caused negative prices on the electricity exchanges, as DIE ZEIT illustrates:
The price on the market fell to nothing. A little later before noon, there was so much green power on the market that the German power companies were paying money to get rid of it. By early afternoon when solar power was flowing plentifully, the so-called negative power price rose to 60 euros per megawatt-hour.”
Negative prices due to an uncontrolled supply into the grid is no longer an isolated event that rarely occurs. DIE ZEIT continues:
And that is no isolated incident; it’s the future of German power production. In the first half of 2014 power prices were negative for 71 hours. But already in just a few years that number could be one thousand hours per year, according to the think tank Energy Brainpool. One quarter of the entire green energy production would be energy garbage.”
Skyrocketing electricity prices for consumers while the price on the exchanges go negative: This has got to be one of the 7 wonders of German energy management.
Outlaw Mike's advice? First STOP subsidizing 'renewable energies'. Windmills and solar panels can never offer more than local niche solutions. Only therein will they be able to hold their own without state subsidies.
The only truly long term solution for humanity is nuclear FUSION. DowneastBlog had an article on that back in 2006 already. If all the money that thanks to Green and Red insanity has evaporated in insane carbon offset Ponzi schemes had been used instead for fusion research we would be much farther down the road. As it stands now we cannot expect the first tangible results before 2025 - and that is by no means certain. I also think it was a mistake going for an international effort, thereby excluding the benefits of competition.
And in the runup to fusion? The first two decades simply continuing using fossil fuel. To that end it will be necessary to effectively counter the CO2 mass hysteria and propaganda.
Within that timeframe develop workable Thorium nuclear reactors. Thorium is available in relatively abundant qualities, it produces less nuclear waste, and is a dead end with regards to producing bomb material.
a.) 2014-2035: fossil fuel, U235-based nuclear reactors, phasing the latter out as they gradually reach their intended lifespan (fossil fuel reactors should continue to be used however, and let them die off as the subsequent methods of producing energy gain importance)
b.) 2030 ~ 2080? Thorium nuclear reactors
c.) 2060 (?) ~ .....end of history : Fusion reactors
Vwala, Outlaw Mike's plan for sustainable energy production in a nutshell!
Greenies can continue to champion solar panels for powering parking ticket dispensers though.