Rudolf Kipp at Science Skeptical reports on Director of the Fraunhofer Institute in Germany brings us this glittering example of how arrogant and detached from reality the scientific elite among us can be.
How the Fraunhofer Director saves energy in his vacation home in California
By Rudolf Kipp
Professor Eicke R. Weber, Director of the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems in Freiburg, Germany, recently expressed his opinion in a commentary appearing in the daily Badischen Zeitung. It bothers him that German companies simply are not acknowledging the huge potential of photovoltaics. They simply lack faith, he claims.
Completely unimpressed by the the wave of bankruptcies that has rippled through Germany due to low-priced competition from China, and despite all the generous subsidies pampering the industry, Weber is still convinced that photovoltaic systems will undergo a boom in the future.
Lack of faith as a reason for bankruptcies?
It’s not really clear if the Professor Weber really means solar companies in Germany are going bankrupt one after another because they lack the faith that he himself demands. That seems to be the least of the problems for German manufacturers. They all believe their products are better than those from China, and that the only way to a sustainable future is if more and more customers buy more and more of their solar modules.
Indeed faith can move mouintains, but it cannot pay a single bill from a supplier or employee wages. And because this is the reality, we are currently experiencing a die-off of an entire industry. The problem is not a lack of faith – it’s the lack of profitability.
Rising electricity prices are no problem for the professor
Another thing that agitates the professor from Freiburg is “the myth that German pensioners with their electricity bills are financing rich property owners who own buildings covered with solar panels and Chinese industrial bosses”. But it is indeed true that in Germany mainly land and homeowners are the ones profiting the most, along with Chinese solar panel manufacturers, while low income earners with no possibility to invest wind up footing the bill. Weber makes no attempt to refute this.
Instead, he simply recommends that low wage earners consume less power. And to ensure that they really do this, incentives need to be created. Here the professor, who resides in Germany, prefers a graduated price structure. He explains how this would work:
My electricity bill in my vacation home in California is structured as follows: 13 cents/kwh for base consumption, 29 cents/kwh for up to 200 percent of the base consumption and much more for households with large consumption.”
When you read this, it becomes clear why Professor Weber is not afraid of rising power costs. The man can obviously afford it. Clearly he has enough money to fly to his vacation home in California multiple times a year – emitting huge quantities of CO2 as he does so.
Moreover, the professor has the chutzpah to expect other people, who can only dream of having the professor’s lifestyle and who emit only a fraction of his CO2, to limit their energy consumption in order to rescue the planet. To reach this target, he considers it absolutely necessary to make energy so expensive that the “little man” is no longer able to afford it.
If at some time rising energy prices should lead to unrest, then I would recommend that Professor Weber remains at his California vacation home instead of staying in Germany. In earlier revolutions such arrogant elitists ended up facing angry mobs armed with pitchforks and torches.