Sunday, July 26, 2009

Hey Scooter, Nice Peashooter

After a decade of subsidies, and every industry having to grease themselves up with endless political Astro Glide, someone in Germany finally noticed that you can’t run an industrial economy on something as poorly energetically inferior as wind power.

Germany's renewable energy companies are a tremendous success story. Roughly 15 percent of the country's electricity comes from solar, wind or biomass facilities, almost 250,000 jobs have been created and the net worth of the business is €35 billion per year.

But there's a catch: The climate hasn't in fact profited from these developments. As astonishing as it may sound, the new wind turbines and solar cells haven't prohibited the emission of even a single gram of CO2.
They also learned about something called a “market” – which is to say “people figuring out what price they can sell things to one another”, if you can imagine that. More specifically, the idea behind Carbon trading that I found hilarious a few minutes after I heard of the idea more than a decade ago: if you want people to emit less, and they succeed, wouldn’t the price of that asset fall?
Even more surprising, the European Union's own climate change policies, touted as the most progressive in the world, are to blame. The EU-wide emissions trading system determines the total amount of CO2 that can be emitted by power companies and industries. And this amount doesn't change -- no matter how many wind turbines are erected.

Experts have known about this situation for some time, but it still isn't widely known to the public. Even Germany's government officials mention it only under their breath. No one wants to discuss the political ramifications.
What gets even funnier is that all of this talk of the rising level of ‘green power’ production taking place, touted as a tool against foreign energy dependency, is leading to the reduction in demand and eventual shutting down of coal-fired power plants, displacing the only serious and non-nuclear source of energy available to Germans domestically, and making them more dependant on Russian natural gas for both base and peak loading.