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Green Energy Bust in Germany

September 22, 2013

Here is an interesting article by Will Boisvert (New York, USA) regarding Germany’s renewable energy initiatives. This sparked a back and forth debate with Osha Gray Davidson (Germany). Links to Mr. Davidson’s response and Mr. Boisvert’s subsequent further reply can be found in the articles on the Dissent Magazine Website.

Please also refer back to a discussion I posted regarding Global Solar Power Capacity Surpasses 100,000 MW:  Why is this significant?

Green Energy Bust in Germany
Will Boisvert
http://www.dissentmagazine.org/article/green-energy-bust-in-Germany

1371505709BoisvertEnergiewende

“………..The press and the green blogosphere celebrated passed benchmark after shattered milepost, including the day in May when, according to Treehugger.com’s headline, “Half of Germany Was Running on Solar Power.

But statistics on Germany’s electricity sector for the whole of 2012 are now in, and when you look beyond the cherry-picked hype, the results are dismal and disquieting. Despite massive construction of new capacity, electricity output from renewables, especially from wind and solar, grew at a sluggish rate. Germany is indeed avoiding blackouts—by opening new coal- and gas-fired plants. Renewable electricity is proving so unreliable and chaotic that it is starting to undermine the stability of the European grid and provoke international incidents. The spiraling cost of the renewables surge has sparked a backlash, including government proposals to slash subsidies and deployment rates. Worst of all, the Energiewende made no progress at all in clearing the German grid of fossil fuels or abating greenhouse emissions—nor is it likely to for at least a decade long

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Unfortunately, the nameplate capacity trumpeted in the media is a drastically misleading measure of the electricity added to the grid. While wind and solar nameplate capacity represented 84 percent of Germany’s average electric power generation of 70.4 GW, it ultimately generated only 11.9 percent of total electricity (up from 11.2 percent in 2011). There are simple reasons for that discrepancy: night, cloud, and calm. The output of wind and solar generators varies wildly with weather and the time of day; during most hours they produce a small fraction of their nameplate power—or nothing at all.

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That Germany has become the bellwether for energy policy in Europe and the world is one of the more demoralizing ironies of our day. The Energiewende is not the swift, bold advance that greens imagine but a slow, timid, and inadequate response to the crisis of climate change. It represents a failure of nerve, a failure of imagination, and a failure of arithmetic. It is visibly failing now, and if it succeeds in all its stated goals it will still fail. It is failing for a simple reason: the environmental movement, whose signal triumph is its influence over energy policy, has rejected nuclear power—the best source of clean energy we have.”

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2 Comments
  1. Hi,

    this article is very interesting indeed, so thanks for sharing. One of the main issues I have with this discussion, is that it elevates the discussion to a very formal and technical level, where profit margins, competitiveness and production rates are all important.

    But, since a species has different needs from a specimen, this discussion becomes very quickly political, rather than focussed on individual issues. Along the same lines it becomes very easy to calculate out any risk inherent in nuclear power and make forget, that Chernobyl left a contaminated path of radioactive fall-out all across Europe and needs to be surrounded for centuries, just like Fukoshima, by a no-go zone, which giving the proximity of nuclear plants to inhabited areas in Europe is very difficult to achieve.

    Statistics though helpful can so easily be misleading, Just like in Douglas Adams Hitchhiker through the Galaxy “Universe – Population zero!” since the universe is infinite and any number divided by infinity approximates zero.

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