Shambles…Energy Professor Declares Germany Energiewende “A Failure”, …”Population Left Disillusioned”!

Volkmar Pott's photo.

The editor-in-chief of the Iserlohner Kreisanzeiger und Zeitung daily Thomas Reunert dedicated an entire page on the topic of wind energy last Sunday, bearing the headline: “The Norwegians Are Giving Us The Finger!

It is an interview with a former professor from the University of Bielefeld, Dr. Kurt Gehlert, 75, an expert in mining. It focusses on the state of Germany’s Energiewende (transition to green energies), particularly wind power and the illusions of energy storage technology.

The sub-heading reads

Dr. Kurt Gehlert is certain that the Energiewende has already failed. Or we will drown and cover ourselves in wind turbines.”

Germans pushing the Energiewende are aiming to see 80% of Germany’s energy needs being met by green energies by 2050. Some are even calling for doing away with natural gas, in addition to coal and oil.

But the monster-sized insurmountable obstacles loom as German policymakers begin to scramble in a confused state of denial.

Germany’s alternative baseload-capable sources, such as hydro and biogas, are severely limited and account for only 11.5% of Germany’s total energy supply today. Moreover there still does not exist a viable technology for storing the irregular supply of wind and solar power. Gehlert says these technologies are nowhere near being capable of taking on the role of providing a reliable baseload.

The 75-year old professor points out that although there is a huge capacity of wind and solar energy already in place, often both are not available because they are weather-dependent. Gehlert tells the IKZ that the media like to give the public the impression that the technology is not far away, but the reality is that it is nowhere near in sight.

Energy storage concepts such as accumulators, power-to-gas, compressed air storage are plagued by low efficiencies and sky-high costs. He reminds readers that using electric car batteries as a storage media is also a pie-in-the-sky-vision. Gehlert tells IKZ:

It sounds like a good idea and so let us illustrate it using a rough calculation. In 2020 it is planned to have 1 million electric cars on the roads in Germany. If we tap into them and remove 50% of the average 25 kwh charge capacity, then we will extract enough power from them (12.5 x 1000000 =12.5 gigawatt-hours) to cover Germany’s needs each day for 25 minutes and 17 seconds; Germany’s total daily consumption is 712 gigawatt-hours. And then all the electric car owners will have only 50% of the range available for their next trip.”

Gehlert also tells the IKZ that pump-storage is also not a solution for Germany, calculating:

In Germany about 125 times more storage lakes than what exists today would need to be constructed by 2050. This area and topography simply does not exist at all.”

On the idea of using Norway’s, Switzerland’s or Austria’s mountainous regions to build the necessary pump-storage capacity, Gehlert tells the IKZ:

The Swiss are reacting allergically, and the Norwegians are giving us the finger.”

Go ruin your own landscape, and leave ours alone.

And even if it was possible to use pump-storage in foreign countries, Gehlert tells the IKZ that in order to bring the power from the above-mentioned mountainous countries to the big consumption centers in Germany’s industrial heartland, it would require the construction of about 70 high voltage power lines ranging from 300 to 1200 km in length!

Gehlert also scoffs at the idea of using wind-power-to-gas as a method for storing energy, which would be used to fire gas turbines to produce electricity in times of low-winds. And expanding the calculation to 50% constant electrical power from wind energy would require about 470,000 German wind turbines (Currently there are about 25,000). Gehlert elaborates:

The figure is difficult to fathom. Germany has an area of approximately 360,000 square kilometers. That means each of the 470,000 wind turbines would have 0.76 sq km.. The city of Iserlohn alone has an area of 125.5 square kilometers and so would have 165 wind turbines.”

The IKZ asks Gehlert to summarize:

The Energiewende under the given conditions in Germany is a failure […]. The policymakers state in a worried manner: Our predecessors have left behind a disillusioned population.”


27 responses to “Shambles…Energy Professor Declares Germany Energiewende “A Failure”, …”Population Left Disillusioned”!”

  1. Ryddegutt

    On of the main concerns in the population in Norway for the subsea cables are that they will import the energy prices from Europe to Norway. Almost 100% of the electricity used in Norway today comes from renewable hydroelectric power. The population have no access to natural gas for heating etc. The price for electricity in Norway is moderate, but then the artic climate also means that the population need more heating then the rest of Europe. By the way, there are lots of taxes on electricity in Norway.

    The Norwegian population will first be forced to pay for the cables and then they will be presented a higher energy bill for many years to come as a reward. And the population are already using 100% renewable electricity energy today.

    I am a Norwegian and I don’t like those cables at all. The government owns most of the hydroelectric power plants in Norway and they love those cables of course. And the media is always applauding higher energy prices because that’s “green”.

    1. Mikky

      Norway looks to be in very good shape, with its hydroelectric power and potential to export power to a green-dominated EU, willing to pay almost any price for carbon-free energy. Not sure why you don’t like these cables.

      1. Ryddegutt

        Why should we want to double our heating cost in a country with arctic climate?

        1. Mikky

          OK, I guess that if the Norwegian electricity generators can sell electricity to the rest of Europe for double the local price, they might want to force up the local price, but it must be good overall for Norway to increase its exports.

          1. Ryddegutt

            Or we could keep low energy cost to support the industry and other business where 99.9% of the workforce are employed.

            Norway has a big problem with cost involved in any production. Today we can’t actually use most of the money from the oilexport inside Norway due to inflation risk.

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    2. ThomasJ

      Ryddegutt: You have to consider the newly agreement with Sweden on the extended “el-certifikaten” (~ “electrical certificate”) and the forthcoming closer integration with the Swedish madness of our non-existent ‘energy politics’. It’s meant to be all intergrated in the EU-market and we will see very much higher (el-)energyprices/-costs.

      Sweden is, by the way, building windmills/-parks like crazy, devastating our uniquely beautiful nature – and all this without any actual reason beside. of course, the heavy subsidies the wind-mafia scores… Germany was very often recalled as a muster for the green talibans here, up until ~ one year ago, when info over the disasters became known and, suddenly!!, thte greens here stopped talking about the German “perfectum”/not.

      Boy, do the prospects look bad.. 🙁


      1. Ryddegutt

        I totally agree. The “el-sertifikat” for Norway, witch already have 100% renewable electric power, is insane.

  2. Robert Doyle

    Mr. Gosselin,

    I have been closely following your Energiewende posts They are excellent! I thought they would become viral. Alas, I’ve come to believe readers on the Internet scan and not read. Perhaps, it is the size of the portable device itself that causes this result. I have a request. Would it be possible to add a separate, compiled folder on the left, which would be named “Energiewende”? It would contain all of the great posts you have done. I believe you have the beginning of an Amazon “Kindle” book!

    Best Regards,

  3. Loodt Pretorius

    Hi Pierre, I do like this article as it was written by a professor of mining, they tend to know what they are talking about.

    It is obvious that if you don’t want to use the bounty – coal – that mother nature left on your heimat for you to explore you have to come up with another plan. Sadly, the only other option that is workable, practical, and doable is nuclear power generation.

    Once you have had enough long and prolonged power cuts due to craziness of the existing schemes that option will be brought back into play.

    In the meantime, just watch the passing parade and be witness to biggest destruction of wealth ever done on the face of the planet.

    1. DirkH

      There’s also Russian gas via Nordstream, and coal and LNG import via ships.
      Germany will always be import-dependent, and there’s nothing bad about that, because it gives the world an opportunity to sell us stuff in return for the cars and machineries we export – and trade creates a necessity for peace.

  4. sod

    The price for private electricty customers FELL this year.

    And this has happened, even though the huge power companies diny to give the full benefit of falling market prices to their private customers.

    1. DirkH

      sod says:
      6. May 2015 at 5:13 PM
      “The price for private electricty customers FELL this year.”

      Brought to you by a very cloudy August 2014 which completely wrecked annual cumulative solar output.

      Take home message for economic novices: The LESS you produce of a subsidized good the WEALTHIER you are.

      1. DirkH

        Future energy strategy recommendation: Run factories only from July to September.

        It’s more Green this way. Also, cars are evil anyway.

      2. sod

        “Brought to you by a very cloudy August 2014 which completely wrecked annual cumulative solar output.”

        solar august 2014: 3.9 TWh
        (page 69)

        solar august 2013: 4.1 TWh
        (page 87)

        hint: the difference was actually much bigger in July, but got compensated by May. What is your point?

        1. AndyG55

          What is important is the amount that can be RELIED upon.

          Energy in most countries is way to important to be up to the vagaries of the wind. Industry need RELIABLE, CONSISTENT, DEPENDABLE electricity, something that wind and solar can never , ever supply.
          For example, in April, wind in UK was dependable at only 3.6% of nameplate at the 95% dependency point.

          This is totally unacceptable for any developed country, or for that matter for any under-developed country.

          Wind and solar are TOYS, nothing more.

    2. Bernd Felsche

      I suspect that the big operators will go into the next financial year declaring their conventional generating capacity insolvent. The administrators will then declare those operations as commercially unviable requiring the government to either provide subsidies or to nationalise the facilities to keep them running; mostly on the cheapest fuel available; lignite (brown coal).

      Taxpayers and electricity consumers will be paying for decreasingly-efficient electricity generation because the unreliable renewables cannot power Germany. And the network agency doesn’t permit their shutdowns because they have the responsibility for the continuity of supply.

      The German government have painted the country into a corner; with very expensive paint that takes 20 years to dry.

    3. sod

      “Oh! Suddenly one single year is a trend.”

      the fall of market price is a trend indeed and has been for several years:

      It gest even worse, when you look at the effect on the EEG subsidy (which INCREASES if the üprice is falling) :


      ” The LESS you produce of a subsidized good the WEALTHIER you are.”

      good. we just learned, that in the region solar power no (thanks to storage, for example by the TESLA battery) is CHEAPER than power from the utility at all times.

      So let us stop the subsidy for coal and Co and change to cheap power!

      1. DirkH

        “So let us stop the subsidy for coal and Co and change to cheap power!”

        Well sod, just lying doesn’t make it so. Consumers in Germany are forced to pay a surcharge of 6.5 cents / kWh exclusively for the subsidation of solar and wind and biomass. You know it, I know it, all the people from other countries can easily look up the German FIT on wikipedia, so – as the information is freely available, who do you think you can fool? Why are you doing this? If you had had credibility in the first place you would have damaged it now. It’s not very smart, sod. What’s wrong with you?

      2. DirkH

        And again, sod, you have maneuvred yourself into a logically impossible situation.
        “So let us stop the subsidy for coal and Co and change to cheap power! ”

        Hey go ahead and buy all the solar panels and wind turbines with your own money that you can! Take out a crediti to do so! You have my blessing! Then, you will according to your logic make a fortune even without subsidies! Become the breakaway civilisation of the 21. century by using your advanced understanding of economics, not using fossil fuels at all!

        Unfortunately, you and I know that it doesn’t work, and that that is the reason you come begging for more and more subsidies all the time, and you’re disappointed by the current SPD-CDU government for not filling up the punchbowl to the brim… you greedy little scoundrel.

  5. Loodt Pretorius

    Don’t despair gentleman and mein herren, just now you will be able to buy floating nuclear power stations from Russia, If ever I have seen an obvious and practical solution, the floating nuclear power stations is it.

    You have enough rivers in Germany to anchor more than a dozen or so of these floating nuclear power stations close to where the demand is for power. All is not lost. Prost.

  6. Posa

    In the NY Times today, columnist Tom Friedman published a bizarre article calling for Germany to expand a new military role based on Green Leadership.

    I posted a riposte citing turmoil over Green Energy in Germany. The Times refused to publish the comment.

    This is becoming more and more typical of green/ liberal outlets these days.

    1. Colorado Wellington

      Bizarre, but not by Friedman’s standards:

      Our One-Party Democracy
      By Thomas L. Friedman
      September 8, 2009

      One-party autocracy certainly has its drawbacks. But when it is led by a reasonably enlightened group of people, as China is today, it can also have great advantages. That one party can just impose the politically difficult but critically important policies needed to move a society forward in the 21st century.

      He’s been having these visions for a while. He likes the Chinese Communists. He would love Schellnhuber’s Reich.
      As a first step, Schellnhuber should adopt a shorter, 2-syllable name.

  7. Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #179 | Watts Up With That?
  8. Brian H

    Better and more literal and more colloquial translation of that Norway headline: “Norwegians giving us the bird”!

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