Marita Noon: Germany’s Energy Transformation

Marita Noon

Link to: Germany’s “energy transformation:” unsustainable subsidies and an unstable system (I’d really appreciate it if you would click on this link to RedState.com and select the “recommend” option. If a column on RedState gets a lot of “Recommends,” it gets the editors’ attention and has a higher likelihood of being posted on the front page where the readership is much higher. After all, I work so hard to produce good content each week so people will read it and be informed, and act, on the issues. The option? Gruber is right about the people.)

Greetings!

This year’s climate change talks in Lima, Peru, ended yesterday with a watered down compromise and virtually no major news coverage—leading one to believe that they’ve become almost irrelevant. My column this week, Germany’s “energy transformation:” unsustainable subsidies and an unstable system (attached and pasted-in-below), uses the talks and Germany’s recent decision to ratchet up its commitment to carbon dioxide reductions as the launching place to discuss what the U.S. should be learning from Germany’s renewable energy experiment. After all, our legislators are currently wrestling with whether or not to extend subsidies for renewables.

Germany’s “energy transformation:” unsustainable subsidies and an unstable system features many quotes and observations from a report done by a Swiss group that closely analyzed Germany’s Energiewende and offered important lessons the U.S. and other countries should learn from—whether or not we will remains to be seen. But, as I say in my closing remarks, an educated constituency is important! My writing, and your sharing of it, is part of the education process.

Thanks for posting, passing on, and/or personally enjoying Germany’s “energy transformation:” unsustainable subsidies and an unstable system. Once again, I’ve attached both the full-length- and 900-word versions. If you post my work, please use whichever you feel is best for your audience.

Merry Christmas!

Marita Noon

Executive Director, Energy Makes America Great, inc.

PO Box 52103, Albuquerque, NM 87181

505.239.8998

 

Germany’s “energy transformation:” unsustainable subsidies and an unstable system

Perhaps when Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel was a child, she attend a party and was the only one who came without a present, or wearing inappropriate attire—and the embarrassment she felt haunts her to this day. That’s how psycho-dynamic psychology (Freud) might explain her December 3 decision spend more money on Germany’s failing energy experiment to avoid, as Reuters puts it: “the embarrassment of missing her government’s goal of a 40 percent reduction of emissions by 2020.”

As Europe’s biggest economy, Germany has also embraced the biggest carbon dioxide reductions through a program known as “Energiewende”—or, in English, also called energy change, shift, or transformation. Energiewende was launched in 2000 under Merkel’s predecessor who offered subsidies for any company that produced green energy.

While the European Union (E.U.) has committed to carbon dioxide cuts of 40 percent by 2030, Germany’s national goal aims to get there a decade sooner—which may have seemed achievable early in the program. After the 1990 reunification of Germany, the modernization of East Germany brought rapidly reduced emissions. However, the program’s overall result has raised costs and the emissions the expensive programs were designed to cut.

A few months ago, Bloomberg reported that due to increased coal consumption: “Germany’s emissions rose even as its production of intermittent wind and solar power climbed fivefold in the past decade”—hence Merkel’s potential embarrassment on the global stage where she’s put herself in the spotlight as a leader in reducing emissions.

On December 3, while 190 governments were meeting for two weeks of climate change talks in Lima, Peru (which, after 30 hours of overtime, produced a compromise deal that environmental groups see “went from weak to weaker to weakest”), Merkel’s cabinet agreed to a package that continues Germany’s optimistic—though unrealistic—goal and increases subsidies for measures designed to cut emissions. Regarding Germany’s “climate protection package”, Barbara Hendricks, Environment Minister, admitted: “if no additional steps were taken, Germany … would miss its targets by between five to eight percentage points.”

The results of the German agreement will require operators of coal-fueled power plants to reduce emissions by at least 22 million tons—the equivalent of closing eight of them. The Financial Times (FT) believes the plan will “lead to brownouts in German homes.”

With the goal of generating 80 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2050, Germany has aggressively pursued a green dream with unsustainable subsidies that have produced an unstable system described by FT, on November 25, as: “a lesson in doing too much too quickly on energy policy.”

So, what are the lessons? What should the U.S., and other countries, learn from Germany’s generous subsidy programs and rapid, large-scale deployment and integration of renewable energy into the power system? These are the questions U.S. legislators should be asking themselves as they argue over a tax extender package that includes a retroactive extension for the now-expired Production Tax Credit for wind energy.

Fortunately, the answers are easy to determine. Finadvice, a Switzerland based advisor to the utility and renewable industry, did an exhaustive study: “Development and Integration of Renewable Energy—Lessons Learned from Germany.” The introductory comments of the resulting report, includes the following statement: “The authors of this white paper would like to state that they fully support renewables as a part of the power portfolio. …a couple [of the authors] have direct equity interests in renewable projects.” The author’s viewpoint is an important consideration, especially in light of their findings. They wanted Germany’s experiment to work, yet they begin the Executive Summary with these words:

“Over the last decade, well-intentioned policymakers in Germany and other European countries created renewable energy policies with generous subsidies that have slowly revealed themselves to be unsustainable, resulting in profound, unintended consequences for all industry stakeholders. While these policies have created an impressive roll-out of renewable energy resources, they have also clearly generated disequilibrium in the power markets, resulting in significant increases in energy prices to most users, as well as value destruction for all stakeholders: consumers, renewable companies, electric utilities, financial institutions, and investors.”

After reading the entire 80-page white paper, I was struck with three distinct observations. The German experiment has been has raised energy costs to households and business, the subsidies are unsustainable, and, as a result, without intervention, the energy supply is unstable.

Cost

We, in the U.S., are constantly being told that renewable energy is close to cost parity with traditional power sources such as coal and natural gas. Yet, the study clearly points out the German experiment has resulted in “significant increases in energy prices to most users”—which will “ultimately be passed on to electricity consumers.” Germany’s cost increases, as much as fifty percent, are manmade not market-made—due to regulation rather than the trust costs. The high prices disproportionately hurt the poor giving birth to the new phrase: “energy poverty.”

The higher costs hurt—and not just in the pocket book. The authors cite an International Energy Agency report: “The European Union is expected to lose one-third of its global market share of energy intensive exports over the next two decades due to high energy prices.”

Subsidies and instability are big factors in Germany’s high prices.

Subsidies

To meet Germany’s green goals, feed-in tariffs (FIT) were introduced as a mechanism that allows for the “fostering of a technology that has not yet reached commercial viability.” FITs are “incentives to increase production of renewable energy.” About the FITs, the report states: “This subsidy is socialized and financed mainly by residential customers.” And: “Because of their generosity, FITs proved capable of quickly increasing the share of renewable power.”

Germany’s original FITs, “had no limit to the quantity of renewables to be built” and “lead to unsustainable growth of renewables.” As a result, Germany, and other E.U. countries have “had to modify, and eventually phase out, their program because of the very high costs of their renewable support mechanisms.”

Germany has also begun to introduce “self-generation fees” for households and businesses that generate their own electricity—typically through rooftop solar, “to ensure that the costs of maintaining the grid are paid for by all consumers, not just those without rooftop PVs.” These fees remove some of the cost-saving incentive for expensive solar installation.

Section four of the report, “Unintended Consequences of Germany’s Renewable Policies,” concludes: “Budgetary constraints, oversupply and distortion of power prices, transaction-specific operational performance, market economics (i.e. Germany proposing to cut all support for biogas), debt structures, and backlash of consumers paying higher prices were all factors contributing to regulatory intervention. Projecting past 2014, these factors are expected to continue over the next several years.”

Stability

Hopefully, by now, most people—especially my readers—understand that the intermittent and unreliable nature of wind and solar energy means that in order for us to have the lights go on every time we flip the switch (stability) every kilowatt of electric capacity must be backed up for times when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow. But, what most of us don’t think about, that the report spotlights, is that because the favored renewables benefit from “priority dispatch”—which means that if a renewable source is generating power, the utility company must buy and use it rather than the coal, natural gas or nuclear power it has available—the traditional power plants operate inefficiently and uneconomically. “Baseload thermal plants were designed to operate on a continuous base. …they were built to operate at their highest efficiencies when running 24 hours a day, seven days a week.” Now, due to renewables, these plants operate only a fraction of the time—though the cost to build and maintain them is constant. “The effect of fewer operational hours needs to be compensated by higher prices in these hours.”

Prior to the large integration of renewables, power plants earned the most when demand is high—in the middle of the day (which is also when the most solar power is generated). The result impacts cost recovery. “There are fewer hours in which the conventional power plants earn more than the marginal cost since they run fewer hours than originally planned and, in many cases, provide back-up power only.”

This translates into financial difficulties for the utilities that have resulted in lower stock prices and credit ratings. (Note: utility stocks often make up a large share of retirement portfolios.) Many plants are closed prematurely—which means the initial investment has not been recovered.

Because the reduced use prevents the power plants from covering their full costs—yet they must be available 24/7, power station operators in Germany are now seeking subsidies in the form of “capacity payments.” The report explains that a plant threatened to close because of “economic problems.” However, due to its importance in “maintaining system stability” the plant was “kept online per decree” and the operator’s fixed costs are compensated.

*****
Anyone who reads “Development and Integration of Renewable Energy” will conclude that there is far more to providing energy that is efficient, effective and economical than the renewable fairytale storytellers want consumers to believe. Putting a solar panel on your roof is more involved than just installation. The German experiment proves that butterflies, rainbows and pixy dust won’t power the world after all—coal, natural gas, and nuclear power are all important parts of the power portfolio.

Why, then, did Merkel continue Germany commitment to an energy and economic suicide? It is all part of the global shaming that takes place at the climate change meetings like the one that just concluded in Lima, Peru.

If only U.S. legislators would read “Development and Integration of Renewable Energy” before they vote for more subsidies for renewable energy, but, heck, they don’t even read the bill—which is why calls from educated constituents are so important. I am optimistic. Maybe we could learn from Germany’s experience what they haven’t yet learned themselves.

The author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). She hosts a weekly radio program: America’s Voice for Energy—which expands on the content of her weekly column.

Warmists & Alarmists … Refuted Again?

Fair Use Notice

According to an OPED by Joseph Bast in Forbes online, a group of climate scientists has refuted the latest pile of findings from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).  The IPCC chairman is the same chairman that released the same type of alarmist documents in past “findings.”  Get ready for it and the refutation from the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC):

 

English: Rajendra K. Pachauri, Chairman, Inter...

English: Rajendra K. Pachauri, Chairman, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A note before the OPED: There is an email component to a IPCC report from 2011, but the details on that will be posted tomorrow (4.3.14).

 This week, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is releasing its latest report, the “Working Group II Contribution to the Fifth Assessment Report.” Like its past reports, this one predicts apocalyptic consequences if mankind fails to give the UN the power to tax and regulate fossil fuels and subsidize and mandate the use of alternative fuels. But happily, an international group of scientists I have been privileged to work with has conducted an independent review of IPCC’s past and new reports, along with the climate science they deliberately exclude or misrepresent. Our group, called the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC), was founded in 2003 by a distinguished atmospheric physicist, S. Fred Singer, and has produced five hefty reports to date, the latest being released today (March 31). So how do the IPCC and NIPCC reports differ? The final draft of the IPCC’s Summary for Policymakers identifies eight “reasons for concern” which media reports say will remain the focus of the final report. The NIPCC reports address each point too, also summarizing their authors’ positions in Summaries for Policymakers. This provides a convenient way to compare and contrast the reports’ findings. Here’s what the reports say:

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Nobel Winner Rings The Bell On Parts Of Global Warming

Ivar Giaever

Image via Wikipedia

By Chuck Ring (GadaboutBlogalot ©2009 -2011

Quote Freely From The Article – Leave The Pseudonym Alone

He is not the first and he is not likely to be the last; but a Nobel Prize wining scientist has opted out of the “warmist” batch and resigned his membership from one of the batch’s organizations.  From FoxNews Scitech:

Dr. Ivar Giaever, a former professor with Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the 1973 winner of the Nobel Prize in physics, abruptly announced his resignation Tuesday, Sept. 13, from the premier physics society in disgust over its officially stated policy that “global warming is occurring.”

The official position of the American Physical Society (APS) supports the theory that man’s actions have inexorably led to the warming of the planet, through increased emissions of carbon dioxide.

No doubt we are all familiar with the old saw, “never say never.”  We have grown to accept the phrase as mostly good advice.  The same cannot be said for the word “incontrovertible.”  At least, not in the opinion of Giaever, when it applies to global warming and the man caused elements of the claim:

Giaever does not agree — and put it bluntly and succinctly in the subject line of his email, reprinted at Climate Depot, a website devoted to debunking the theory of man-made climate change.

“I resign from APS,” Giaever wrote.

Giaever was cooled to the statement on warming theory by a line claiming that “the evidence is incontrovertible.”

“In the APS it is ok to discuss whether the mass of the proton changes over time and how a multi-universe behaves, but the evidence of global warming is incontrovertible?” he wrote in an email to Kate Kirby, executive officer of the physics society.

That worrisome word (incontrovertible) has caused debate in the scientific community before.  And why shouldn’t it.  The very nature of science seems to always leave the door open to new discoveries and new opinions; but perhaps not so much in the microscopes, thermometers and computer models of the warmists:

“The word ‘incontrovertible’ … is rarely used in science because by its very nature, science questions prevailing ideas. The observational data indicate (sp) a global surface warming of 0.74 °C (+/- 0.18 °C) since the late 19th century.”

The link just below is crying out for the reader to read more and since it was placed there by FoxNews, I’ll leave it there for anyone who wants to check the article in its entirety.  Be sure to look for links to related articles below the link

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2011/09/14/nobel-prize-winning-physicist-resigns-from-top-physics-group-over-global/?test=latestnews#ixzz1Z5hewMDz

Things We Didn’t Know — I’m Sure There’s A Simple Explanation For Global COOLING

Satellite view of Asia.

Image via Wikipedia

By Chuck Ring (GadaboutBlogalot ©2009 -2011

Quote Freely From The Article – Leave The Pseudonym Alone

Here are the headlines from a Reuters article: Asia pollution blamed for halt in warming -study.  Of course the warmists will say, “Of course — we knew it “always.”  It just seems so simple.  I mean the way the mantra of the warmists dovetails with their “evidence” of fossil fuels being the main evidence for anthropogenic reasons for global warming and now this study — a perfect “mating” of the minds, don’t you think? The story goes:

Smoke belching from Asia’s rapidly growing economies is largely responsible for a halt in global warming in the decade after 1998 because of sulphur’s cooling effect, even though greenhouse gas emissions soared, a U.S. study said on Monday.

The paper raised the prospect of more rapid, pent-up climate change when emerging economies eventually crack down on pollution.

World temperatures did not rise from 1998 to 2008, while manmade emissions of carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuel grew by nearly a third, various data show.

The researchers from Boston and Harvard Universities and Finland’s University of Turku said pollution, and specifically sulphur emissions, from coal-fuelled growth in Asia was responsible for the cooling effect.

So, here I go with my ignorant mind:  I now understand there has been no global warming since 1998; at least according to this article. Is this what the warmists have said?  I don’t think so:

A U.N. panel of climate scientists said in 2007 that it was 90 percent certain that humankind was causing global warming..

There’s an elusive 10% … must be those stupid skeptics.  But wait!  There’s was before the above:

“It has been unclear why global surface temperatures did not rise between 1998 and 2008,” said the study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States.

A peak in temperatures in 1998 coincided with a strong El Nino (sic) weather event, a natural shift which brings warm waters to the surface of the Pacific Ocean every few years.

Subsequent years have still included nine of the top 10 hottest years on record, while the U.N. World Meteorological Organization said 2010 was tied for the record.

“A peak in temperatures in 1998 coincided with a strong El Niño weather event in the Pacific which brings warm water, yada yada …”  Yes, you have read right and El Niño is in no way anthropogenic if it is natural and not a natural result of something humans have mucked-up..

It looks, according to this new revelation, as though COAL is the culprit along with efforts to cut pollution:

Sulphur aerosols may remain in the atmosphere for several years, meaning their cooling effect will gradually abate once smokestack industries clean up.

The study echoed a similar explanation for reduced warming between the 1940s and 1970s, blamed on sulphur emissions before Western economies cleaned up largely to combat acid rain.

“The post 1970 period of warming, which constitutes a significant portion of the increase in global surface temperature since the mid 20th century, is driven by efforts to reduce air pollution,” it said.

Read the last quoted paragraph until you have it memorized.  I am flummoxed by this new information when coupled with the tubs of bull butter previously spread.

Here is the link to the complete article. Related links below.