What can we learn from Germany? Don’t look if you like BigWind!

It was mentioned, yesterday, that although I prefer to focus on BigWind issues within the borders of the USA, it is important to learn from the mistakes/successes of others. If you only listen to the mainstream media, you could be led to believe that the USA is behind the world, in regards to “renewable” energy. Our legislators SHOULD be learning from the mistakes of other countries. We should be thankful that we are behind Europe – in this race….

Germany is in the middle of one of the most audacious and ambitious experiments a major industrial economy has ever attempted: To swear off nuclear power and run Europe’s largest economy essentially on wind and solar power.

There’s just one problem — it’s not really working.

The energy transformation, known as “Energiewende,” was meant to give Germany an energy sector that would be cleaner and more competitive, fueling an export-driven economy and helping to slash greenhouse-gas emissions. On that count, the policy has floundered: German emissions are rising, not falling, because the country is burning increasing amounts of dirty coal. And electricity costs, already high, have kept rising, making life difficult for small and medium-sized businesses that compete against rivals with cheaper energy….

But it hasn’t come cheaply. Renewable energy has been pushed so relentlessly, in a country not blessed with renewable resources, that the bill is getting enormous. This year, German consumers will spend about 23 billion euros propping up solar and wind power, up from 13 billion euros just two years ago. That comes through a government-mandated surcharge on electricity bills for residential consumers and small and medium-sized businesses. While the government once said the surcharge would never exceed 35 euros per megawatt hour, this year it will top 60 euros per megawatt hour. Big, energy-intensive firms are exempt from the renewables surcharge, which is the reason that European Union competition officials are looking into the question of unfair state aid for those firms. Meanwhile, regular households and small and medium sized businesses have little choice but to pay the higher bills.

That, in turn, appears to have taken its toll on an economy that lives and dies by exports. IHS, the energy consultancy, said in arecent report that German energy policies have cost the German economy 52 billion euros since 2008 because of the impact higher electricity prices have had on smaller firms. Sigmar Gabriel, Germany’s energy minister, and the man in charge of making the Energiewende happen, raised eyebrows earlier this year when he warned of the risk of “de-industrialization” if Germany continues on its current path.

So what can Germany do? In the near term, the country is trying to rein in the runaway cost of renewable energy byscaling back subsidies and focusing on the most cost-effective forms of renewable energy. That means forgetting grandiose dreams of offshore wind farms in the Baltic powering industry in the Ruhr….

One of the biggest props to German hopes, though, is the one least likely to materialize: wholesale reform of the European emissions-trading scheme, which slaps a price tag on emissions of carbon dioxide, and which is meant to make dirty energy (like coal) less attractive than cleaner energy (like gas and wind). Since its inception, the European carbon market has been plagued by over supply: simply put, polluting pays. And that means that, for now, dirty coal is becoming more important in Germany, and makes more economic sense than natural gas.

“From a climate change point of view, Germany is perceived as the ‘green man’ of Europe, but it’s actually the ‘dirty man’ of Europe,” Helm said.

via Germany’s Green Elephant.