The article first published in americanthinker.com on 05/16/2019.
Those who follow this blog know that for at least three years I have been saying without fail that German energy policy, known as the Energiewende (energy transition), is a disaster doomed to fail sooner or later. Not so the German mainstream press, which much like the American one, is firmly in the hands of leftists that have been religiously singing the praises of the Energiewende as a model for all humanity to follow. First and foremost, among them has been the popular weekly, Der Spiegel, that has also profiled itself as viciously anti-American to the point of making up fake news to paint America as evil incarnate (Claas Relotius). What was my surprise then when on a flight from Washington to Vienna last weekend, the flight attendant handed me a copy of Der Spiegel with the title story proclaiming loudly that the Energiewende has been “Botched in Germany” (Murks in Germany). As if to make sure that the message is not lost on anyone, the title picture showcased broken wind turbines and hanging power lines on a dark Berlin skyline.
Had Spiegel finally come to its senses? No chance of that, of course. The magazine continued to argue that the Energiewende was a “great idea” that was destroyed by German “narrow-mindedness,” whatever that meant. What nether Der Spiegel nor the vast coterie of German officialdom, starting with Chancellor Merkel, can afford to admit is that the Energiewende was from its very beginning the “dumbest energy policy in the world” as the Wall Street Journal editorial board recently called it, and should never have been tried, let alone at the scale at which it was in Germany.
What Merkel & Cie cannot admit is that the whole idea of building a reliable electric supply on unreliable renewable solar and wind sources is impossible, because there are times when the wind does not blow and the sun does not shine. The Germans even coined a word for it, they call it Dunkelflaute. And if you are German and had also outlawed clean nuclear power after Fukushima on the asinine assumption that you could get hit with a 9 by Richter earthquake and a giant tsunami, there is nothing you can do about it short of coal-fired plants to guarantee base-load i.e. reliable electricity to the highly-industrialized nation.
And so, here are some of the facts that forced Spiegel to write this story, because they can no longer remain hidden. Nearly 20 years after the beginning of the Energiewende and colossal expenditures to subsidize renewable energy (160 billion Euro in the last 5 years alone) very little has been achieved. And what has been achieved, says the story, is in “crass contradiction with the meager results” and “far distant from the self-announced targets.” Of the needed 7700 km new power lines, only 950 km exist and only 30 km were added in 2017. The vast majority of those (60.5%) are still in the planning stage and 16.1% are yet to be planned. And it looks like, things will almost certainly get worse. Spiegel admits that the 1.2 million photovoltaic installations and 30,000 wind turbines currently present were erected with the help of “gigantic sums of state money” and without them the future looks bleak. Already, the curtailment of subsidies is wreaking havoc with new installations. In 2018, the number of new turbines at 743 is 1000 turbines below the year before and many renewable companies are shedding jobs or filing for bankruptcy. Half of the 30,000 wind mills were installed before 2004 and are rapidly approaching the end of their useful life and subsidies both. Most of them will be closed down. And that is before we even look at the three other key anchors of the Energiewende that are yet to be touched: housing, industry and traffic.
Moreover, the German people, who are now paying the highest electricity rates in Europe, (nearly three-times those of the US, twice those of France) and are forced by the state to subsidize industry, are starting to resist. There is hardly a new project started “that is not fought over or objected to.” Earlier it took less than 40 months for a project to go online, now it is at least 60 months.
There is one final thing that Der Spiegel does not want to tell us. All of these huge expenditures of effort and treasury would not make an iota of difference in the world’s CO2 emissions as long as the greatest polluters, China and India, are allowed to continue spewing CO2 unimpeded. In other words, the Energiewende was in vain!
By Alex Alexiev