I got an email from the head of an Ontario wind-turbine protest-group seeking information about wind power development in Germany.
Ontario, it appears, is poised to industrialize its landscape – thinking this will somehow lead to nicer weather. The head of the protest group wrote that the Ontario windpark promoters and lobbyists “are continually referring to Germany and their Energiewende and how successful their implementation of renewables is in that country.”
First off, the claim that the Energiewende in Germany has been successful is an outright lie, and it shows that Ontarian leaders haven’t done their homework on wind power and renewables. The German politicians and activists who spread that myth forgot to mention that 1) German power rates have skyrocketed due to the feed-in act, 2) industries are now threatening to leave, citing costly and unreliable energy supply, and 3) protests against windparks in Germany are becoming increasingly fierce as nobody wants them in their backyard anymore. Moreover, the outputs are far from what was promised. More than ever plans for new windparks are being forced offshore. But there too the technical problems, and thus profitability problems, are great.
So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Germany is drastically scaling back its subsidies for renewable energies and windparks. Last year alone Germany saw a 55% plunge in solar investments, and over the last 2 years Germany’s solar manufacturing industry has been all but obliterated. So much for the green dream.
How has Germany been coping with its struggling Energiewende? Answer: they’ve been quietly bringing coal power plants back on line. Last year CO2 emissions climbed for the second year in a row. In a nutshell: Germany’s landscape has been littered with windparks and and solar panels, yet it’s burning more coal today than ever.
With all the failure you’d think Germany would be reconsidering its Energiewende. It turns out that the country is doing precisely that.
For example in the idyllic German state of Bavaria, Minister President Horst Seehofer has put into place a 10H rule for new proposed windparks in order to protect citizens and their property. The 10H rule requires wind turbines to keep a minimum distance from of 10 times the turbine’s height from residential areas. For example, a 200-meter tall turbine would need to have a distance of 2000 meters from the nearest home. The result: it disqualifies most plans for new wind parks.
Seehofer says that while he wants to see wind turbines in the state, citizens have to be protected from them.
But the powerful wind lobby is howling in reaction: “The consequence will be the end of the Energiewende,” said Günter Beermann, Chairman of the state association for wind energy.”
The online Main Post here also writes:
The head of the Greens in the state parliament had even harsher words. Ludwig Hartmann from Landsberg: ‘With the 10H distance rule wind energy in Bavaria is dead. […] If wind energy cannot find a home in Bavaria, then the Energiewende in Bavaria will not function.’ The environment expert is calling for sticking to the plan of expanding wind turbines in Bavaria to 1500. Currently there are 600. Minister president Seehofer has distanced himself from the expansion target. ‘I assume that the number will be considerably less with our new concept,’ he told the Süddeutsche Zeitung.”
The oxygen for the wind industry is getting fatally thin in Southern Germany. And even if Seehofer should fail to uphold his 10H rule, then chances will still remain bleak for the wind industry in Bavaria. This is due in large part to the considerable technical and economic shortcomings of onshore wind power. The Main Post writes:
Behind this there is the question of how much wind is there at a location and how profitably can a turbine operate. The rule of thumb: Wind turbines at the coast can produce about 100 percent, wind turbines offshore out in the open sea about 140 percent, wind turbines inland however only about 70 to 80 percent. Which wind turbines are to get subsidized in the future remains the decision of the federal government. Should the limit be set at 80%, then wind energy in Bavaria no longer has a chance. On that experts of the CSU and the opposition both agree.”
And in an interview with the Neue Energie magazine here, German federal parliamentarian Josef Göppel said:
If the pincer movement using the rule with minimum distance of ten times the turbine’s height and minimum performance of 75% gets used, then there will be no chance left for wind power in Southern Germany.”