Spiegel: Germany’s Failed ‘Energiewende’ Dissuades Abbott And Australia From Pursuing Green Energies

Germany’s much ballyhooed Energiewende (transition to renewable energy) was supposed to show the whole world how switching over to green energy sources could reduce CO2 emissions, create hundreds of thousands of new jobs, provide cheap electricity to citizens, and heroically rescue the planet.


Australia’s Tony Abbott says the hell with market-distorted, expensive, unreliable, poor-to-rich capital redistribution machine green energies. Cites German failure as reason to abandon them. Photo credit: MystifyMe Concert Photography (Troy) – Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

Ten years later, the very opposite has happened: Germany’s CO2 emissions have been increasing, electricity prices have skyrocketed, the green jobs bubble has popped, and tens of thousands of jobs have disappeared. Worse: tens of billions are being redistributed from the poor to the rich.

Other countries around the world have noticed and are thus having serious second thoughts about industrializing their landscapes with green energy systems like wind, solar and biogas. Germany has proven that green energy does not work well after all.

Spiegel reports here how Australia’s conservative government led by Tony Abbott is now using Germany’s failure as one of the main arguments for getting out of green energies and getting back to affordable and reliable coal power.

Spiegel, perturbed by Abbot’s direction, writes of his doing away with the CO2 emissions trading scheme and his plans to abolish the CO2 tax. Australian industry has been burdened by a 15 euro per tonne CO2 tax while in Europe it is only 5 euros. Spiegel writes:

The prices for raw materials are crumbling, auto manufacturers Ford and Holden, a GM arm, have announced plans to close factories. Mining companies such as BHPBilliton are rethinking their expansion plans. ‘The Australians have their backs up against the wall,’ says Heribert Dieter, expert at the Science and Policy Foundation in Berlin.”

What’s especially embarrassing for German greens and the green media like Spiegel is that countries around the world are now citing Germany’s failure in marshaling through the Energiewende as a reason to abandon the green path. Germany is showing the world how not to produce energy.

In Germany the mad rush to green energies has led to skyrocketing electricity costs, crony capitalism, massive redistribution of wealth from the poor to the rich, and an unstable power supply. Moreover, energy-intensive companies are exempted from paying the green energy feed-in surcharges, and thus leaving the lowly consumers to foot the entire bill.

One German mid-size company I know in the local area covered its sprawling factory roof with thousands of square feet of solar panels and today sells the solar energy produced to power companies at an exorbitant price (approx. $0.50/kwh). Then, to power its factory, the company turns around and buys the very same power at a fraction of the price (roughly $0.20/kwh). What’s really perverse is that the same company is also exempt from paying the green energy feed-in surcharge, because it claimed excessive hardship from its “energy-intensive” manufacturing operations and associated energy costs. Twisted and distorted or what!

In summary: Germany’s energy market has been transformed into a grotesque market distortion and redistribution of wealth scheme from the poor to the rich. Abbott is absolutely right not to go down this socially and politically dubious path.

Spiegel sniffs that Abbott has simply brushed aside all the criticism from environmental organisations being fired his way. Spiegel writes “quotes translated from the German):

The premier does not let himself be misled, and reminds everyone that in Germany the costs for the Energiewende have exploded. The country that was once a model is now a dissuasive example. “We can’t afford to follow Germany’s example,” Ron Boswell, Senator of the state of Queensland is quoted as saying in ‘The Australian’. Because of its expansion of renewable energy sources, Germany has the highest energy prices in the world. “We would be better off learning from the United States,’ Boswell believes. There energy is about three times cheaper than in Australia.”


20 responses to “Spiegel: Germany’s Failed ‘Energiewende’ Dissuades Abbott And Australia From Pursuing Green Energies”

  1. Bernd Felsche

    I beg to differ. Energiewende evidently means a U-turn to the energy sources of old: Coal, wind, water, wood and a ritual worship of the sun.

    Go on. Look up “Wende” in the dictionary.

    Germans often fail to recognize the treasures of wisdom hidden within their own language.

    “Wende” was unashamedly recycled from the word used to describe/satirize the rather disjointed, ill-considered and as yet incomplete union of the Federal Republic with the former Democratic Republic after the government of latter threw in the towel.

  2. DirkH

    A commenter on a WUWT thread recently mentioned his electricity tariff in South Australia; it was about equal to the 0.26 EUR / kWh we pay in Germany, as I found out via an Aussie price comparator tool. So, Abbott has a good opportunity to rectify something there. Gillard has already inflicted a whole lot of damage.

    Der Spiegel doesn’t distinguish between the ALP and Abbott’s coalition; and characterizes “the policies” of Oz as a collection of bizarreness, where even the culling of camels for their Methane output is debated in relation to climate – they don’t mention that that was under Gillard.

    In other words, they do their very best to smear Abbott; prime German leftist reporting. A careful collection of misrepresentations.

    1. Lars P.

      Very true, Der Spiegel gives the impression in the article that this is what Abbott is doing. One needs always to careful examine all that this media says…

    2. Bernd Felsche

      Given that Tony Abbott hasn’t actually been able to do anything substantially legislative in his first 90 days in government (wrt carbon tax) because of blocking in the Senate by the Green-Labor alliance, he’s been remarkably successful in turning around some of the former government’s policies; which required only Ministerial decisions. In part, it illustrates how much control government has without the legislative process; or rather, how much latitude there is for administrative and ministerial edict.

      Senators-elect from the September election won’t take their seats in Parliament until July. Well, most of them anyway because the Electoral Commission lost almost 2000 ballot papers for Western Australian Senators and it’s almost certain that there’ll be another election held shortly in W.A. to rectify the problem. Estimated cost is AUD$13million.

      Although Tony Abbott left his options open prior to the election as to a double-dissolution of parliament if his legislation to repeal the carbon tax was obstructed in the Senate, that point will be moot in just over 4 months anyway.

      Unravelling the previous régime’s legislative package (over 1100 pages in a dozen Acts) is no mean feat. Although administrative and ministerial flexibility has pushed to the limit to minimise the impact of the legislation, it remains on the books. And there is legislation that goes back even further; Renewable Energy Targets (EEG), equivalent to Germany’s EEG, that are increasingly impacting on consumer electricity prices. The new government has been inaudible on nullifying RETs.

      Meanwhile, cheap PV solar is being dumped on the Australian market with “guaranteed” infeed rates of up to 41c/kWh still available in places; on top of the “certificates” issued by the federal government as credits for notional generation over 15 years, but sold by the buyer to the installer and used to subsidise the installation.

      The local price of electricity for domestic consumers here (Perth, W.A. metro. area) is 23.55c/kWh + 10% GST. So the infeed rates are unsustainable. But when the State government tried to cut them (exercising its option to do so), there were loud protests from the troughers causing the spineless government to back-pedal. Which leaves the electricity suppliers only two options; increase the price to consumers and/or increase the grid voltage leaving less “room” for PV infeed as they are voltage-limited (by legislation) and have to be power-factor correct. FWIW: the grid volatge, many years ago, was 254V (440V 3-phase) before they switched to 230V nominal around 1980.

    3. Graeme No.3


      South Australia’s tariffs are just a little lower than that figure, which is the top figure in a three tier daytime charge. It is intended to cut down usage on hot days in summer; the average household consumption would be 23-24EUR/kWh. During this summer Adelaide has had 13 days above 40℃, several almost as high and some hot nights (27- 30℃) and consumption has hit record levels.

      The State Government of the last 12 years has been keen on wind farms (S.A. is ~9% of national economy but has 52% of installed capacity) and solar PV (highest proportion of homes with it installed in Australia), and unable or unwilling to let any new coal or CCGT plants to be installed. We have 2 small, inefficient brown coal fired plants that work only in summer to help with the increased demand, but the rest has to be ‘imported’ from Victoria’s brown coal fired plants at considerable cost. So thanks to renewables we get costly electricity and very little reduction in emissions.

      By the way, that 13 days above 40℃ is a record, there were only 12 days like that in the previous record hottest summer (1897).

  3. G Mitchell

    “Twisted and distorted or what!”

    Wait, it gets better!

    I know of a hardcore denier who not too long ago installed solar panels on the roof of his own house just because it was subsidized and basically paid for by the tax-payer.

    Talk about crony capitalism!


    1. Ed Caryl

      Gee, two ad hom logical fallacies in one comment! See if you can find them.

  4. Pointman

    The downside of the whole first mover concept, is that if the new business sector turns out to be just a fashionable bubble, your business is now in serious trouble. Depending on how early you jumped in and how committed to it you became, the shareholders clear out the boardroom and then call in a decent turnaround specialist or the bankruptcy administrators. The only upside of such a disaster, is that other enterprises considering the same move, back off it. The lesson has been learnt from a rather graphic real world example.


  5. Stephen Richards

    Ed not difficult for us but for Mitchell ?

  6. Bruce of Newcastle

    Although Mr Abbott is committed to repealing the carbon tax and has commissioned a review of the Renewable Energy Target, so far there has been no actual progress because the opposition parties control our upper house of Parliament and are blocking the repeal. That will hopefully change in July when new Senators take their seats.

    But July will be too late.

    This week Alcoa announced closure of an aluminium plant after having to pay $137 million in carbon tax last year. Our national airline is in trouble – they paid $106 million in carbon tax last year. *All* our car manufacturers have now announced they are closing their Australian plants – energy costs impact upon them. Last year the big aluminium smelter in my town, at Kurri Kurri, closed. The steel plant in Port Kembla cut back severely and will probably close since it is now too small – their carbon cost last year was $32 million.

    If anyone is thinking of a carbon tax…don’t.

  7. John Shade

    A powerful post. Well done.

    1. John F. Hultquist

      I second this!

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