Guest essay by Fred F. Mueller
On April 16th, 2014, a few quite remarkable statements were delivered during a discussion event at the premises of SMA Solar Technology AG, a leading German producer of photovoltaic panels and systems:
“The truth is that the Energy U-Turn (“Energiewende”, the German scheme aimed at pushing the “renewable” share of electricity production to 80 % by 2050) is about to fail”
“The truth is that under all aspects, we have underestimated the complexity of the “Energiewende”
“The noble aspiration of a decentralized energy supply, of self-sufficiency! This is of course utter madness”
“Anyway, most other countries in Europe think we are crazy”
Had this been one of the small albeit growing number of German “sceptics” casting doubt upon the XXL-sized politico-economical scam that has cost the German populace more than € 500 billion since its inception in 2000, it would not have gotten more than a footnote in the local press, crammed somewhere in between “horoscope” and “lost and found”. In fact, the media actually tried to keep a lid on the facts by giving them as little coverage as possible.
But the man at the speaker’s desk was Sigmar Gabriel, acting vice-chancellor of the German government, Secretary of Commerce with responsibility for the said „Energiewende” and chairman of the German social democrats (SPD), the second-largest political force in the country. Since December 2013, he is in charge of taming the runaway costs and growing security of supply risks that are unmasking the financial and technical nightmare of this ill-conceived project. In the past few months, he seems to have gotten some unpleasant insights causing him to admit the above-mentioned inconvenient truths when he was pushed too far by a number of aggressive lobbyists of the “renewable energy” sector. Gabriel, famous for his irascible temper that once already resulted in a heated verbal exchange with a top-dog TV journalist live on air, appears to have become quite candid when he vented his anger during the debate.
He must have realized his own political fate is in jeopardy because the task he has been assigned has conducted him into a situation that will inevitably result in failure. With respect to electric energy generation, Germany has painted itself into a corner. Since the introduction of the “Renewable Energy” law (EEG) in 2000 aimed at replacing coal and gas-fired as well as nuclear power generation by so-called renewable energy sources, the household price for electricity has jumped by more than 200 %. German customers now pay the second-highest electricity prices in Europe. At the same time, the task of stabilizing the grid against the massive erratic influx from solar and wind power plants that produce without regard for actual need has pushed the operators to their limits. Now already, with a combined share of just some 13 % of total electricity production, their unreliable input is massively imperiling the stability of the grid.
Conventional power plants – the most important units able to compensate these detrimental effects – are being pushed out of the market and shuttered at increasing rates. At the same time, Germany’s CO2 output has not diminished because coal-fired units have had to take over from closed nuclear plants. Costs are set to rise further on a ballistic path while security of supply is in free fall. At the same time, Gabriel is subjected to intense pressure from a number of factions of the “renewable” energy sector asking for ever greater slices of a cake that cannot be financed much longer. Together with inconvenient truths about feasibility limits given to him by his technical staff, this pressure seems to have risen to a level that pushed him to lecture his harassers when their clamors transgressed his tolerance limit.
This rare incident where a leading politician loses control of his words to such a degree shows that the “crash boom bang” path the German way of mishandling energy policies has indeed reached a threshold where said politicians feel cornered and unable to uphold their usual “muddling through” approach. Long-ignored financial and technical rules re-emerge and will force the German political class to abandon their “renewable” energy strategy centering on solar and wind power generation. Since the only low CO2 alternative – nuclear power – has been deviled by all political parties and the media beyond any chance of short-term oblivion, Germany will soon have to revert to coal for its power needs. And that in turn implies the country will have to abandon all aspirations to lower its CO2 emissions. German politicians might soon find out that demonizing CO2 is becoming a speedy path to ruining their career. And given the importance of the country within Europe and the pioneering role it claimed in the international crusade against climate change by limiting CO2 emissions, this might well herald the start of a paradigm shift of epochal dimensions in the whole climate change debate.
Original TV clips (in German):