Numbers don't lie: Germany's Energiewende has had zero impact on emissions – at best

Guest essay by Alberto Z. Comendador

As the US weighs whether it should withdraw from the Paris agreement, a critical question is how effective have climate change policies been so far. A failure of the policies adopted until now doesn’t necessarily mean that future policies will likewise fail, but it will provide further evidence that decarbonizing is, well, difficult. And expensive.

One routinely hears comments that the US is the country most affected by climate contrarians / denialists, and that in other parts of the world (most notably Europe) this debate doesn’t exist, there is consensus about the need to act, etc. To quote a German citizen:

‘The 97% of climate scientists who agree on the basics include many conservative scientists. That there is a problem is not a partisan issue. How to solve it, that is politics. The Paris climate agreement was signed by nearly 200 countries and thus many conservative governments. They accept that climate change is a real problem. European conservative parties may be less active, but do not deny there is a problem.

In Europe only Trumpian racist parties deny there is a problem. That the climate “debate” is mostly an American problem shows that the problem is not conservative versus liberal, that it is not a lack of scientific evidence, it is not a problem of the communication of science. The problem is the corrupting influence of money in US politics and media.’

I take him at his word.

Germany is the country with the strongest consensus around the need to ‘do something’ about climate change. No other nation has started an ambitious a plan as Energiewende. The program started in 2000 and set an objective for 2050 – though bizarrely, as is common with these ‘plans’ and ‘roadmaps’, the objective is stated in absolute greenhouse gas emissions rather than the emission intensity of the economy. It’s easy to see the problem:

a) If emissions by 2050 are higher than the plan stated, advocates will claim that this happened because economic growth was stronger than expected. In other words: advocates could claim climate policies succeeded in making emissions lower than they would otherwise have been. Of course advocates of emission cuts never clarified how much economic growth they expected in the first place, so this claim is completely unfalsifiable.

b) If emissions by 2050 are the same or lower than the plan stated, advocates will claim success for the plan – even though the decline in emissions may in fact be due to economic crises and/or population decline.

Not to sound repetitive, but the only measure of progress that makes sense is the emissions intensity of GDP. In particular, how much this intensity declines per year. In this article I will show a positive number, i.e. how many more dollars of GDP per ton of CO2 emissions we get every year, as that seems more intuitive to me. I call it the decarbonization rate. I use CO2 emissions from combustion, as emissions of methane, ozone, N2O, and CO2 from land use are highly uncertain.

Anyway, let’s get back to Energiewende. We’re now 1/3 through the plan, so if it’s having any effect one should see:

a) That the decarbonization rate in Germany is higher than in the previous period

b) That this rate is higher than in other countries, which presumably don’t care so much about climate action. Compared with the US the difference should be massive.

Here we can see US decarbonization since 1966, as emissions data starts only in 1965. We can see the same for Germany since 1971, as that’s when the country’s GDP data starts – at least in the World Bank’s website.


Ooops: now only is Germany’s rate about the same as the US’s, it’s also lower than it was before!

In fact, to be more precise, the 2000-2015 average is 2.06% for Germany and 2.26% for the US. Over 1971-1999, Germany’s average is 3.13%. But this figure is inflated by the very high increases of 1989-1992, when the formerly communist economy of East Germany shut down most of the CO2-intensive industries (with little effect on GDP). Excluding those four years, Germany’s pre-Energiewende average is still 2.58%, or a bit higher than since 2000 – though one must mention the figures for the 70s are ‘helped’ by high oil prices.

I guess the best one could say is that Germany’s decarbonization rate is about the same as before.

Just to be clear: a higher rate of decarbonization is the minimum one could ask of a climate policy. It’s necessary, but not sufficient, because it’s still possible for that policy to cost so much as to make the reduction in emissions not worth it. One shouldn’t automatically consider a higher rate of decarbonization better than a lower one. In other words, one has to consider cost-effectiveness – as with every other thing we spend money on.

In Germany’s case there is no point debating the cost-effectiveness of climate policies, because their effectiveness is at best zero.

Advocates of emission cuts are entitled to their own opinions, not to their own facts. If someone wants to make the case that climate policies have in fact been successful, whether in Germany or worldwide, he has to find fault with the numbers supplied by the World Bank and BP. If the data on fossil fuel combustion were significantly wrong, that would be big news. If the data on German (or global) GDP growth were significantly wrong, that would be huge news.

So proving that climate policies have worked is simple: prove the numbers wrong.

You could win a Nobel Prize.


Emissions data from BP can be found here. The 2016 version should be published in a month or so.

GDP growth data from the World Bank can be found here.

The calculations and plot used in the article can be seen here.

Further reading

Shameless plug here: this is the fourth article in a series (not sure if it will continue). The first showed that there is little difference in the rate of decarbonization in Europe compared to the US., and little improvement over time either side of the Atlantic (except during periods of oil crises) That article left out Germany, as I thought (mistakenly) that the data would be a mess due to the reunification.

The second illustrated that:

a) The rate of decarbonization, worldwide, has actually declined since the Kyoto agreement in 1997.

b) Even if climate policies managed to increase this rate by 1% (essentially doubling it, as the historical average is only 1.1%), the difference in century-end temperatures would be only 0.38ºC

The third article likewise assumed that climate policies increased the rate of decarbonization by 1%, but applied this to historical data since 1979. In other words: if we had implemented effective decarbonization policies back then, what would be the difference in current temperatures? The answer is between 0.05º and 0.1ºC, depending on how much of the reduction in emissions corresponds to a reduction in CO2 concentrations.

204 thoughts on “Numbers don't lie: Germany's Energiewende has had zero impact on emissions – at best

  1. Alberto Z. Comendador:
    Thankyou for your clear analysis.
    I like your parameter of ‘decarbonization rate’ and I will adopt its use.

      • Not “my bad” but My mistake. Americans have difficulty with English too.

      • (Grey, I’m pretty sure it’s from sports, particularly basketball, wherein there is a need to quickly communicate that one recognizes they committed a minor error or oversight . . it’s not (necessarily) that the speaker doesn’t understand the proper English version, so much as it indicates awareness of the “no big deal” nature of a mistake, and a cooperative/cordial attitude. I think Alberto’s usage was excellent . . Your bad ; )

    • “Numbers don’t lie”
      but depending on how you use them they can. Always be suspicious when you see rates before you see the numbers. Especially if you never see the numbers…
      Based on your referenced tables, Germany is some 70% of what CO2 emissions that it had in the early seventies; the US is more than 20% over, and only some 10% less than what it was 10 years ago.
      I would say that is big difference.

      • ReallySkeptical:
        You have missed the point again.
        In this case both economies have grown while emissions growth has be constrained to a lesser rate.
        That is a great success.

      • Germany is some 70% of what CO2
        “But this figure is inflated by the very high increases of 1989-1992, when the formerly communist economy of East Germany shut down most of the CO2-intensive industries (with little effect on GDP). “

      • RS,
        The numbers don’t lie, but how you misrepresent them can make people wonder if you’re a liar…
        1-You’re reading the chart wrong. It shows the rising and falling of the emission intensity of GDP, not gross emission rates. So the higher the plotted line goes, the more decarbonization is happening in a growing economy, the lower it goes, the less decarbonization is happening.
        The US’s rate of decarbonization is MUCH higher today than it was in 1970 (much more decarbonization today) and the German rate is slightly lower (less decarbonization). So far, their Energiewende has produced no change. We don’t have an Energiewende, but we do show change.
        2- He provided links to the numbers.

      • RC: I think the problem is that in modern times GDP and emissions are no longer linked like in the past.
        Ap: Not reading his chart; reading the tables.

      • The real problem, of course, is that there is no proof–none–that CO2 actually raises the temperature of the earth; nor is there proof–real, actual, observational proof–that a little rise in the average temperature (whatever that might actually be) would be harmful. All of the Energiewende is gargling at windmills and trying to think the weather cooler–no effect at all except to cripple the economy. Who has shown that all the measures of adopting and using “renewable” fuels have actually, really, truly, verifiably reduced the earth’s temperature by as much as a millionth of a degree F? What a waste of time, money, energy, and lives all of this is! What an odd and ironic phenomenon is this German nonsense–and Germany used to be known for its contributions to science!

  2. However Germany’s original plan did not take into account switching off nearly half its nuclear reactors overnight in 2011.
    Also, to date progress on emissions has been mostly in the electricity sector, with transport and heating lagging behind.
    Then they reorganised the energienwende to make it affordable and to restrict some classes of renewables until the north south grid is complete around 2025.
    So the original shape of the plan has been dented a bit, but overall it looks on track,
    so – are they continuing with it? Yes.
    Is it on target for 2020? yes
    And 2030 and 2050? yes
    (and with 4 of the 8 remaining reactors offline in recent weeks, looks like they’ll have no problem doing without those either)

    • “On plan” for massive electricity price increases..
      and regular “load shedding”.
      The future of Germany is assured. 😉

      • “So your comment is irrelevant”
        That’s griff for you….
        … always IRRELEVANT !!

    • @ griff
      “Is it on target for 2020? yes
      And 2030 and 2050? yes”
      That is flat out wrong.
      It is neither on target for 2020 nor for 2030. Even proponents and government admitted that the 2020 target (40% reduction compared to 1990) will be missed. They are at approx 28% currently which means they should achieve nearly 4% / year in the remaining 3 years whereas the average achievement in the past 17 years 0.7% / year. Another issue is that until 2020 Germany will lose more clean nuclear power and will have to replace it by coal & gas since the RE ratio is already relatively high and subsidies for as well as investment in RE are decreasing.
      What went wrong for the Energiewende proponents? They calculated with a higher electrification rate in the transport sector which did not come (mainly because nobody invested in load stations and people drove further to their work than estimated). Then they calculated with a higher energy saving in the housing sector. But they weren’t able to provide a standard or a guideline what to do and not do. Additionally much less people wanted to build such expensive new homes as they imagined simply because interest rates are already near zero and the government offer of 0.2 or 0.5 percent less for a climate neutral building does not rock if that means to invest additional 50,000 €.
      It might get slightly better for 2030 since electrification of transport might start in the coming years. But do not forget that every 7th household already has problems to pay the energy bill. Once they move from fossil fuels to electric cars they will have to raise energy costs by another 20% to substitute the high tax returns from fossil fuels. Imagine what the poor people without cars in cities might hink of that.
      Energiewende is dead, yet, they just don’t tell you. They call it different future sustainanbility goals.

    • Griff, such a mischief from your side. I live in Germany and I have been born here and I know exactly which plans can be fulfilled and which are not. For example, in the area of electro-mobility, people simply do not buy electric cars. In the country of the inventors of the car engines such as Otto or Diesel this is not surprising. Furthermore, in the unstable weather of Germany, any solar or wind power solution of energy generation needs backup power plants with fossil energies such as coal and gas, or petroleum. Solutions on the storage side are conceived, but at this time and in the state of the art in the manageable future technically feasible, but to the necessary extent uneconomical. And any uneconomic system will not be viable in the long run, no matter how you get stomped.

      • Hans-Georg,
        Can you explain why the nuclear plants are being taken offline, if the big concern is CO2 emissions?
        Are people in Germany aware of how badly overstated the dangers of low-level radiation are?
        Has anybody there heard of radiation hormesis?
        Besides for that, won’t the process of replacing fossil fuel based energy, with wind and solar, become increasingly difficult as the percentage of these sources in the power grid increases?
        My understanding is that it becomes increasingly difficult to maintain a stabilized grid when intermittent sources become a larger percentage of the total power input.
        Please no, I’m asking these questions seriously, I’m not trying to be rude or impudent.
        Thanks in advance.

      • Menicholas, I’m not German but can read it decently well, and my feelings from the comments on German newspapers is that people in general are much less sold on energiewende than we are lead to believe, there’s very frequently a lot of criticism about it, and the governement has taken that into account by making the subsidies regularly less generous in recent years, EEG 2017 is a new step for that.
        However they are completely sold on nuclear being horribly dangerous. They are indeed massively convinced than closing their modern, and very well maintened nuclear plant is the only way to avoid an impending disaster.
        Meanwhile, up to this stage their engineers have made wonders keeping the grid stable despite the high level of renewables. And also allowing their coal plant to follow load in an impressive way. We see everyday the whole fleet going down to what looks like lower than the minimum production level of a coal plant, and then going back to full power a few hours later. Must have a really high maintenance cost, but as to now, they manage to do it still. Also frequently and on average the level of renewable is not necessarily that high actually.
        The main problem is the peaks during which the percentage can become very high, and we are going into May where it won’t be easy at all. The highest solar production of the year, with a significantly higher capacity of wind than last year, including a significant part of offshore wind that will more reliably produce even with clear weather when the solar production is also high. We could see renewables produce more than both is consumed and can be exported, which will be *interesting* to observe. Already during the last weekend, they have had almost 24 continuous hours of negative prices.

      • Germany has proportional representation. That means that a parrty like the Greens can with say 10% of the vote get 10% of the seats, as all German governments are coalitions of compromise. De nuking was the price of having greens onside at one point.

      • Compromise is never good. Neither side gets what they want, and what they get is typically bad for everyone.

      • Menicholas: The nuclear power plants in Germany have been and are being closed because the green party (which by the way now stands at 7 percent of the votes in Germany, when Bundestag elections were next Sunday) wanted it as an ancient, very green demand, and the Christian Democrat Merkel did not want a mess with the Greens. She hoped for a black / green alliance. Shortly after the accident in Fukushima the Ethics Council of Germany was convened and ordered from above that all nuclear power plants should be closed by 2020, since a similar accident in Germany could not be excluded (Germany is also an island and lies in the subtropical Pacific). However, the excellently technically maintained and secure German nuclear power plants were sacrificed on the altar of politics. If it was after the greens (thank god, it is now not quite so strong for them) so in Germany any nuclear research, no matter whether nuclear fission technology or fusion technology where forbidden.

      • The German dilemma is the result of green fear mongering!
        They stir up the fear of nuclear energy and waste storage, and they exaggerate the danger of CAGW.
        On the other hand, they are telling fairy tales about the possibility of energy supply with “renewables”!
        Unfortunately the “Greens” have a strong adherence among journalists in the media, so that their (Neo Marxian) ideology of the “Great Transformation” (Decarbonisation) is spread under the cover coat of environmental protection!
        Climate and environmental protection have become a sort of substitute religion for many!
        So Germanys power supply for the next 50 years is not determined by an expert commitee, but an ethics council of laymen (mostly church representatives)
        The conclusion (this time not only in Denmark) is:
        “Though this be madness, yet there is method in’t!”
        To wake up from green dreams, some Germans need the nightmare of a 2 day blackout!

    • If I am reading the daily Griff rationalizations correctly, then Germany’s wind power plan doesn’t work because 1) no Nuclear power and 2) they tried to make it affordable, 3) the plan is nevertheless “on track” and best of all, 4) they promise it will all work in another 30+ years.
      That’s your story and you’re stickin’ to it, right?
      Griff, you do realize that it has been suggested that you are engaged in a ruse and that you are, in fact, a skeptic agent, filling these pages with all the latest Green newspeak, in order to highlight the complete irrationality of enviro- climate politics…

    • i doubt the plan considered companies building their own coal fired power stations (below the size where planning consent was needed) due to the the increasing cost of unreliable grid power. stupid actions usually have unexpected consequences .

      • Just as here in the states lots of businesses and home owners are putting in natural gas powered “emergency” generators.

      • at least that is better than the diesel powered emergency generators we have here in the uk.

        • Drill and frack, baby, drill and frack! Gas will solve that diesel problem. Or just live in the dark and freeze, that is the Final Solution the ecotards are driving you toward.

    • Griff,
      for a ten year old you are quite smart, BUT !!! turn off the “outside source” ( Energy from Poland, Denmark, France etc ,) and Germany would be in the dark !

    • reducing CO2 is easy. raise the price. this will freeze the poor, cutting the problems with poverty. with global warming the poor don’t need heat anyways. at best a needless luxury. then as manufacturers move to china to cut costs, you can shut down all the remaining power plants and cut CO2 to zero.

  3. Germany gamed the system initially, by counting the emissions from what was East Germany, with inefficient, soviet-era heavy industries, producing a lot of CO2 & real pollutants.
    Their “decarbonisation” plans came off the rails, as their very powerful Green lobby, had their nuclear power stations turned off, post-Fukushima & they needed to replace the lost power. Lignite (Brown Coal) was used!

      • Another variable in the energy equation is the movement of industry to other countries. I have never seen an accounting of German industry that has moved to China, India the USA or other countries. They exported the carbon emissions, so they count for someone else, but the CAGW is global – so what was gained. Recent and proposed movements of industries to the USA are based on affordable energy – sounds like lose-lose to me for Germany.

      • China stopped buying coal from North Korea…maybe they have a new market opening between the “Boy whom would be King of Earth” to supply them. LOL.

        • Probably from Moktar Rihatti in Indonesia, courtesy of his friend William Jefferson.

  4. I do not see anyone getting a Nobel Peace Prize for proving that the Energiewende has not been a raging success any time soon. More likely to be dubbed a ‘Trumpian racist denialist skeptic’.! (Did I miss any derogatory labels?)

    • ‘Trumpian racist denialist skeptic’.! (Did I miss any derogatory labels?)’
      Hah – words are cheap and filters are stuffed with blocked phrases.
      Anyway I appreciate Trump’s open hearted tweets – better
      – Trump said, “I think our side’s been proven very strongly and everybody’s talking about it and frankly, it should be discussed.”
      – than everything is debated in backroom ‘speak easies’ and know one knows till 30 years after that documents are disclosed – as long as those documents weren’t shredded until.

    • CIS, thankfully I don’t know what that means but I see it thrown around a lot lately

      • Hans-Georg,
        Can you explain why the nuclear plants are being taken offline, if the big concern is CO2 emissions?
        Are people in Germany aware of how badly overstated the dangers of low-level radiation are?
        Has anybody there heard of radiation hormesis?
        Besides for that, won’t the process of replacing fossil fuel based energy, with wind and solar, become increasingly difficult as the percentage of these sources in the power grid increases?
        My understanding is that it becomes increasingly difficult to maintain a stabilized grid when intermittent sources become a larger percentage of the total power input.
        Please no, I’m asking these questions seriously, I’m not trying to be rude or impudent.
        Thanks in advance.

      • Cis is shorthand for cis-gendered, as opposed to trans, or transgendered.
        The implication is that there is something wrong with being normal.

      • Menicholas
        For years Germany was the border between the Soviet Bloc and the West. The cold war was fought there. Well funded anti-nuclear anti-American anti-capitalist propaganda campaigns were the net result.
        The Cold war has gone, but the campaigns and the groups have not: they now are funded by …well ‘knock me dahn wiv a fevver, Trevver’, Gazprom!
        Russia builds domestic nukes and exports gas.
        Energiewende doesn’t work, so as predicted gas consumption is steady and or increasing as coal gets shut down.
        So long as nuclear power is an unacceptable option, politically. And fracking of course. Cant have Europe with access to its own gas can we?
        Guess what is at the top of Greens list of bogey men. Nuclear power and fracking. They are unconcerned about coal.,
        The European Green movement was hijacked many years ago to become a political propaganda arm of first, the KGB, and then post USSR collapse, the highest bidder in Russia.
        Merkel is an East German communist. She knows how the game is played.

    • Good comment, Asp. (not peace, though) In this age of the internet you get a +1, or more — I’m not sure how that works.
      I’m of the age of getting little gold stars stuck to the top of things!
      Further, about Alberto’s statement: “You could win a Nobel Prize.
      I’m old enough to remember when that was thought to be a high honor.
      Now it has been corrupted by similar sounding silly awards.
      For example, this one is fine, and deserved:
      . . . “Nobel Prize in Physics awarded to British trio”
      These 2 are just useless pandering:
      . . . “Obama Wins Nobel Peace Prize”
      . . . ” awarded to the (IPCC) and Al Gore
      [In the central part of the Great State of Washington — we are finally having a nice spring day!]

  5. Let’s get clear here. One of the goals of Energiewende is to shut down Germany’s nuclear power plants. We may question the wisdom of that decision, but it’s not irrational and it’s their decision to make. A quick Google search tells me that they’ve switched about 10% of their power generation from non-carbon emitting nuclear to other sources in the past six years. Doing that without substantially increasing carbon output seems something of an accomplishment.

    • Don K:
      It is never an “accomplishment” when money that could have been spent on something useful was wasted on something pointless.
      The appropriate phrase is ‘an act of stupidity’ NOT “an accomplishment”.

    • You forget that someone is footing the bill, and that is consumers,some of whom are going to freeze to death when they can’t afford to heat their homes. Or they starve, since it is a food/heat choice for some.
      Either that, or they cut and burn “protected” forest which just puts the environment under stress.
      The only up side is it is going to blow up in the faces of the current crop of politicians.

    • This accomplishment costs 40 billion Euro / year currently and since the grid costs now are rising as well it will cost definitely even more in the future.
      Please have a look at the nice landscape in Germany’s North. Windmills are growing faster than trees there. Up there and in the East there are 2 villages that are 100% energy independent. They just use wind, solar and biomass and claim to produce the kWh at costs of about half the retail costs. If you look in the details you find that the investment was about 1.2 million Euro / household of which the households just had to pay 1,500 Euro. The rest was paid by the government and the EU. But the media are propagating that as a success. I wrote to our local government and asked for a million EURO, too to produce cheap sustainable energy. So far, I did not get an answer. Maybe i will get two million and have to sell it for a quarter of the retail price. That’s how the economy is supposed to work, at least in the former SU, China and nowadays in Germany.

      • Let’s clarify that ” The rest was paid by the Government and the EU” shall we, it was actually TAX PAYERS.
        The Government & the EU do not have any money.

    • Don K.,
      I disagree with your contention that it is not irrational for them to shut down those nuclear plants.
      It is completely irrational, and doubly so when one looks at it from the perspective of people who believe that CO2 is the Boogeyman.
      Do the people in Germany think that there’s going to be a tsunami?
      The problems at Fukushima were caused by a veritable comedy of errors. One would have to be trying hard to repeat that disaster..

      • You’re more likely to win a multimillion dollar lottery than see a catastrophic nuclear meltdown in your lifetime.

    • There isn’t one. That was just a political sidebar. It’s sheer happenstance that Fukishima opened the door for them at this time.

  6. They panicked, over-reacted and got it wrong.
    Just like the UK Gov’t did in 2001 with diesel cars and now admit as much. Yes, diesel gives better fuel economy but unfortunately will always produce soot and greater fuel efficiency means higher burn temps inside the engine means more NOx
    Of course, those ingenious Germans who make a lot of Europe’s diesel engines got round the soot problem by (just incredible) feeding the engine’s exhaust back into the air intake. So, it makes the engines clean, but also makes them an expensive servicing and maintenance nightmare and, the big kicker, destroys their fuel economy.
    Meanwhile, said Gov’t can never get their heads around Jevon’s Paradox. They keep pushing efficiency blindly unknowing that that increases overall consumption.
    The Dead Hand of bureaucracy will result in a lot of dead people at some point. I’m not saying soon but – there is nothing else that can happen.

    • Peta. Gasoline engines also use Exhaust Gas Recycling and have since the 1970s in order to reduce NO2 emissions. NO2 is a real — quite visible — problem in places like Southern California with its notorious Summer inversion layer issues in the coastal basins. The problem the Germans had was that if you use EGR on the scale needed to pass emissions tests, it plays hell with performance. So they cleverly turned the EGR on during emissions testing and off when the cars were in the road. Great engineering solution perhaps, but quite illegal.
      I’m told that not all diesels use EGR is their primary pollution control. Much the same results can apparently be achieved by injecting a bit of urea into the exhaust stream upstream of the catalytic converter. But that adds complexity and means that the vehicle operator has to keep fluid in the urea tank..

    • Peta in Cumbria: The diesel problem is largely homemade. In the delusion, also in the case of the actually economical diesel to reduce the CO2 emissions, these engines were optimized to this circumstance. The O is just the most reactive atom, and now it has been broken out of CO2 and attached to N. From this, NOx was used to the same extent as for the all-old diesel engines, although in the meantime they needed much less fuel. So far we see what the CO2 panic can do. And it is much worse if the exhaust gases, especially NOx, were measured in real-life conditions and not with exhaustion software and in the laboratory, there would still be far higher NOx values for all manufacturers of diesel cars, but also for gasoline coaches. Stylistic blossoms of CO2 delusion.

  7. Just chew on the word ‘decarbonization’
    my spell checker this moment learned it.
    / sarc on
    anybody interested in decarbonizing children , elders, politicians, cute little polar bears.
    / sarc off
    still decarbonizing environment is high priority
    – OMG !

  8. I agree that decarbonization, per se, is a crummy metric. Decarbonization per GDP is also bogus because the GDP includes financial services. link The GDP can look great but somehow people aren’t better off. link
    We import much of our consumer goods from China. In that regard, we are exporting our carbon consumption to China. What we need is a way to count that in with our own decarbonization data. It could be that we aren’t really decarbonizing at all.

    • We are not exporting anything to China. They are choosing to manufacture goods and sell them for export. In doing so, they emit. We do not.

      • “We” are the world, so what they emit, we emit. No gain on a world wide basis.

      • And THIS! He just nailed the moral chicanery and fraud behind the entire “green” movement, as it relates to manufacturing! Same thing happens on the California/Mexico border.
        How it works – enviros complain about emissions and industrial mess, no one fights back. Industry in question is shamed and banned, or at least operations are restricted so intensely that it has to shut down.
        However, the industry in question is still in demand, may even be essential. Manufacturers, having anticipated this, simply move operations across the border where there are no environmental regs, few if any safety regs, and where employees can be hired for a fraction of what they would have cost back in the states. Also, any government “oversight” in the future can usually be managed by a few envelopes full of small bills.
        Result – Manufacturers profits go UP. Total net pollution goes UP. Trade deficit goes UP. Left wing smugness, based on the feeling that they “Did something”, goes UP. Costs to consumers who need the product goes UP.
        Jobs in the US go DOWN. Revenue to the US Government in the form of taxes goes DOWN. Amount of actual influence and control the US has over the amount of harmful pollution produced goes DOWN.
        This is the system the left has created, the system the left cheers for.

      • wws: Not just the left. In the US, the political right embraced “free trade” just as strongly as the left who assured us that all sorts of great new high-tech jobs would replace the manufacturing jobs being shipped off shore. In fact back in the 1980s and 1990s just about the only two voices that I recall speaking loudly and clearly against unrestricted free trade were H Ross Perot (moderate right) and Bernie Sanders (far left).

        • As I recall Mr Limbow was no too keen on it either. Their were voices against it, and they all got demonized equally by left and right, just with different descriptive words.
          And what we got was not any form of free trade.

      • Free trade is and has always been a net good.
        The reason why manufacturing jobs are leaving is because of taxes and government regulations.
        They would have left even without free trade.
        The only thing NAFTA did was to take plants that were heading to Asia, and put them in Mexico instead.

    • It’s true that a country’s numbers can look good (or bad) simply because CO2-intensive industries are moving elsewhere. In other post I showed the data for the UK and it had a high decarbonization rate, but that may simply be because it’s de-industrializing while Germany mostly isn’t.
      So the most reliable metric would be the global figure (see the ‘further reading’ section).

    • we should start by decarbonizing food. agricultural products should be all carbon free as well as gluten free to avoid health problems later in life.

      • Ferd: you forgot that they have to have less sugar and lower starch, no salt, no additives for shelf life so we can drive to the store every day, be organically produced and non-GMO. All of this has extended life expectancy by many years during the last century – bad! The world needs fewer folks – especially old ones who don’t buy the green blob’s propaganda. We need more snowflakes and refugees who can’t read and write. They are a lot easier to control than us old grey beards.

  9. I have directed two low-info twerps from NoTricks to come and argue against this.
    I doubt they will have the courage to appear.. but if they do, please treat them with the hilarity they deserve.

  10. Has the decarbonisation policy provided lots of free money for protest organisations and their political friends?
    Then it’s worked…..

  11. There is a potential problem with the data.
    People in my old hometown in England used to defy clean air laws by burning cheap coal in fireplaces, to avoid expensive electricity bills.
    High prices drive civil disobedience and dishonesty.
    I wonder how much of this grey market is captured by official statistics?

    • Nailed it there Eric.
      All the laws in the universe are not worth the paper they are written on if everyone just ignores them.

    • It’s true that coal mined/sold within a country can escape statistics. China’s emission numbers are unreliable precisely for this reason – most of their emissions are from coal, and most of their coal is mined in China itself.
      That said, in developed countries the bulk of coal use takes place in power plants, not in people’s homes. In Spain, for instance, outside a couple coal-mining provinces I don’t think anyone actually uses coal at home – and even in these provinces it’s rare. So for Germany and the US I believe the data will be accurate.

    • Log burners, the new “must have”.
      Skip rats now pulling every bit of wood, painted, creosoted, varnished etc and selling it as kindling for wood burning households.
      So Green,So Progressive,

    • You have a point that a significant part of heating in Germany was electric, and now it has turned to whatever they can burn. It didn’t make a lot of difference in terms of carbon emission, because Germany’s electricity has always been very carbon intensive. But for people who don’t have the money to install an efficient gas heating, whatever they can burn will frequently be destructive, illegally chopped wood.

  12. Peta in Cumbria,
    Just like the UK Gov’t did in 2001 with diesel cars and now admit as much. Yes, diesel gives better fuel economy but unfortunately will always produce soot and greater fuel efficiency means higher burn temps inside the engine means more NOx.
    yes, diesel trucks and tractors free people from
    – Tenant miserably or body-ownship by landlords.
    – that a lot of Europeans changed for freedom in the Americas.
    To step back from Diesel trucks / tractors only leads to oxen force; slavery.
    Free speech, freedom of mind, freedom of religion doesn’t apply to Islam as long as Islam isn’t just an intimate private religion but per ‘sharia’ is a worldly, political power.
    But that’s another discussion.

  13. “Not to sound repetitive, but the only measure of progress that makes sense is the emissions intensity of GDP. In particular, how much this intensity declines per year.”
    Understand the point, but this is what allows China to pretend to be reducing while going from 10 billion tons to 15 billion. They are reducing intensity but increasing GDP by more, so total emissions rise.
    You need both. If its to be real, you need to see real tonnage reductions, and if you are to keep standard of living, it has to be by reductions to intensity.

    • Of course, this is the point – that the only way to make enough reductions is to lower GDP. It is not in fact possible to lower intensity enough to make real reductions. This is why no-one will do it.

  14. Number don’t lie, but the people who collect, crunch, and present the numbers often do.

    • how does the old saw go? Oh yeah: “Figures may not lie, but nobody ever said liars couldn’t figure, 😉 😉

  15. You numpties just don’t get it! You’re not supposed to count all the “nice” carbon being used by the Greens to produce all the bird mincers, solar panels, etc. etc. to counter all the “nasty” carbon produced by all the horrible industrialists?
    [/sarc added as requested. .mod]

  16. Building a visible-from-space neon sign with the German equivalent of “We’re Virtuous!” would have been just as effective, at a fraction of the cost (both financial and human).

  17. If shooting yourself in the foot was an Olympic sport, Germany would own the podium (with Britain and Australia as close runners-up).
    It would seem that left-wing governments always contain the seeds of their own destruction. The typical left-wing urge to go virtue-signalling on a vast scale always ends up with a really annoyed populace. They don’t necessarily appreciate the full reasons for their annoyance, but they will eventually lash out and destroy the smug elites who have caused their problems. This happened in France in 1789, and to a lesser extent in the US when Donald Trump was elected. Look for a similar reaction in Germany in the near future.

    • Roger, I agree with your podium. There was a time when I also expected a similar reaction in Germany as with Trump. I still do but not in the near future. I think it is more likely that the Germans take it to extremes before the whole system crashes. One reason is that the conservatives are no longer different from the left. As a conservative voter you just stay where you are (Merkel) and swallow the leftwing politics or you vote for the extreme right which most people probably refuse to do. There is no alternative in between. Finally I think a coalition between left, extreme left and greens is more likely than a rightwing revolution.

      • The problem comes from the fact that most people expect the government to take care of them, and when push comes to shove, they will always vote for whichever political party promises them the most free stuff.

      • It’s the socialist version of the Grasshopper and the Ant. Tax the ants to feed the grasshoppers.

  18. Warmistas do no measure their success by merely lowering the concentration or emission rate of CO2 but rather by the cost, inconvenience and suffering that they are able to inflict on others in the pursuit of demonstating their Clear Moral Superiority over all other People on earth andsignalling to all their great Virtue before Gaia..

  19. It was never intended to reduce any emissions, it has always been about reducing the available amount of energy/electricity/fuel. Drag everyone down into poverty and the Dream Of Socialism is acheived.

    • And raising the cost of such on those who don’t control the market. Usually leads to war.

      • Oh, the war which will engulf Europe in the not to distant future will be entirely religious, muslims have no problem with burning coal and petroleum.

    • It was never intended to reduce any emissions, it has always been about pandering to Green aspiration with virtue signalling cosmetic solutions that achieve nothing but a placebo for the weak green mind.

    • 2hotel9, I’ve seen you here before and each time I am reminded of the USMC. hotel 2/9, as Hotel Co, 2nd Bn, 9th Mar. Is that you John Wayne?

      • Nope. That was a radio call sign I used in Army. Started using it as online usename when I finally gave in and became a part of the Borg. 😉

  20. Do the German numbers include the emissions by the Polish coal plants that provide some of their electricity?

  21. Shutting down their ‘dangerous’ Nukes in favor of cheap French Nuclear electricity ‘safely’ across the Rhine and replacing dirty coal plants with ‘clean’ Russian Natural gas… now there’s a way to ‘hang’ Europe’s largest economy from the gibbet of its chief rivals..!?
    Pity Kyoto wasn’t around instead of Munich in 1938!

  22. Sorry, but this is a ridiculous exercise in proving the age old adage, “There are lies, damned lies, and statistics.”
    A so-called “decarbonization rate as a function of GDP” is irrelevant to the effects of carbon generation worldwide … the climate, to the extent that it is affected by CO2 (certainly subject to vigorous debate) couldn’t care less that the GDP of the entire world is, let alone the GDP of any individual isolated small states within the worldwide economy.
    Indeed, this chart showing the massive uptick the so-called “decarbonization rate of GDP” in Germany during the first several years of reunification is proof that this approach is fully bogus. One could probably perform a hundred peer-reviewed studies or PhD dissertation on the short term yet massive effects of reunification on the combined German economy, lifestyle, as well as other other socio-political effects, but clearly that range of data cannot be used to prove any point about the effectiveness of decarbonization. Any decent scientist or statistician would have to throw that data out of any model used.
    I am a full blown critic and skeptic of AGW and the whole warmists’ schtick, but fighting bad, miseading fake science with more of the same from the other perspective only discredits the skeptics’ argument.
    Germany is clearly trying to do more to remove carbon from its economy than is the USA, and likely all things considered are successful in doing so. That it makes no difference to anything is what matters.

    • This is pure eyewash. Germany is never able to implement the plans for energies with the current technical possibilities. In the case of wind energy, it is also not desirable, for reasons of nature protection and human protection, to flutter everything with windmills.

    • No. Energiewende is not needed, yes, we can agree on that, but even in its own terms it is not successful.
      It has failed to reduce emissions from electricity generation. Or anywhere else.

      • Meanwhile, here in the bad old US of A, we have cut over CO2 emissions, while growing GDP.
        And we did it while not even trying and while saving money and making power cheaper!
        The contrast could not be more stark.
        Get on board with fracking, or build more nuclear, or stop trying to pretend you can have a vibrant industrial economy and eliminate CO2 emissions at the same time.
        Perhaps someday these things will be possible, but that day is not yet.
        Besides we need more CO2, and we need a warmer Earth not a colder one. You would think the people that have large agricultural sectors and that live in a place that’s​ freezing cold half the time would know these things.
        You would think.

  23. I don’t really care what Germans decide to prioritize in their economy. As far as I’m aware there has been consensus support for Energiewende – at least among the main political parties. Every country should be free to follow its own political and economic path according to the wishes of the population. The problem arises when the principles underlying the German Energiewende get incorporated into formal EU-wide policy mandates. There is no way the Germans are going to go down the path they’ve chosen on their own because that would make it even more absurd and meaningless, and so a policy that currently has democratic legitimacy in Germany is going to have to be rolled out across the EU whether or not it enjoys the same legitimacy in the member states. The Germans are wealthy enough to fritter away some of their wealth in order to appear virtuous, and “good luck to them,” I say, but what about the Southern and Eastern EU member states who already have an excess of economic woes, and don’t need another dead weight on their shoulders?

    • If, at least, it was the free will of the population, which was not influenced by anyone. But the propaganda machines run even better than they have ever done in the USA. Germany also has a much longer “tradition” in agitation and brainwashing to put it mildly. We have and have had specialists in our history. In this way, the opinion of some journalists is expressed daily and not the meaning or ideas of the people. What remains is brainwashing as in a Chinese re-education camp at times of MAO.

      • Exactly, Hans-Georg. Just try not reading any newspaper and not watching news on TV for 1 or 2 years which I did from 2014 on. If you then watch TV news again you will immediately notice how low the information content really is and how big the agenda part of the story is. They don’t even recognize what they are doing and think everything else than their agenda is fake news. And they really believe in it.

  24. The transparent lies that are contained in that quoted German citizen are one problem that Germans have, amongst others (toxic radical Muslims, high electric rates, shutting down nuclear plants that have operated safely for decades because a foolishly equipped Japanese reactor succumbed to a natural disaster of unprecedented proportions, one that could never occur in Germany). That bogus 97% claim sure gets around. At it’s most accurate, it merely states that 97% think CO2 emissions have SOME effect on global temperatures, not climate. Every single “denier”
    pointed out by the global warming alarmists believe CO2 has SOME effect. Germans are stupid all over the place. No wonder Hitler had it so easy rising to power.

    • The German population is not stupid, it was sold for years only for stupid. And still is. This is also due to the victorious allies, who after 1945 put the control of our media in the hands of a few persons and families who were obviously free from Nazi influences. What the Allied had not considered, however, that each after the war had sufficient capital for the publication of a newspaper was not free from Nazi influence. On the contrary, in the time of Hitler, he swam only invisibly under the surface, but nevertheless busted the required capital out of this system.

  25. Decarbonizing a nation is killing it’s economy and eventuelly it#s population.
    As we know the entire Co2 alarmist mantra is total BS
    Every money invested in this hoax is wasted.

  26. Meanwhile the World looks to elsewhere… Giant HORNETS…are threatening to all Humankind…it is necessary that the human beings, instead of destroy among them, destroy to those dangerous insects of huge exponential growing…seriously beginning already, at present.

  27. The issue is that there is a difference between German policy and what people claim is the policy.
    The German energy transition to date has not been about replacing carbon-intensive power with low-carbon power. In fact, it has been about replacing near-zero-carbon nuclear power with renewables.
    So when people point at the greenhouse gas emissions and suggest that the energy transition has failed, they are mistaken about the real point of the transition to date.
    There is a strong political interest that has prevented Germany transitioning from carbon-intensive power to renewables. The German government is doing everything it can to keep the coal power industry alive.

    • That happens when lowly engineers mess with lofty political ideals. We should let politicians run the grid, they know best.

  28. A failure of the policies adopted until now doesn’t necessarily mean that future policies will likewise fail
    when talking about government it is a guarantee. learning from your mistakes only works if you see them as mistakes. in government it is forbidden to admit a mistake.

  29. So in Europe, where media is more controlled by Governments, they are more on board with the Climate Change caused by Carbon Dioxide being detrimental to Earths environment and not a beneficial Fertilizer that has caused the exponentially increasing Bio-Mass of Flora and Fauna that are in reality Sinks. They therefore want a Reduction of Carbon Dioxide in the environment – that is like putting the Earth on a Diet – so that it cannot gain Bio-Mass weight. Therefore, by depriving Flora of Carbon Dioxide it will stunt their growth once they get rid of Carbon Dioxide from the environment and Flora will start to die. That Fauna eat Flora and rely upon Flora to provide Oxygen, they’re advocating the suicide of all life on Earth. Okay, I’m going to some real extremes with that. Since 99.95% of Carbon Dioxide is from the exchange between the Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide and the Oceanic waters, flora and fauna respiration, soil respiration and volcanic activities…and what we humans contribute is minute to that at 0.05%. The Earth is not only sustainable without what Humans contribute, it will naturally increase the Carbon Dioxide without our burning of Fossil Fuels, cement manufacturing, industry and deforestation activities. The whole ideologies of “Forcing” is to destroy Capitalism and send humanity back to the Stone Age. It has nothing to do with the Earth Warming or Climate Change. It’s more likely to bring on the next Glacial Period with the Solar Minimum starting. But they don’t seem to care about the facts that Global Warming is keeping that held at bay.

  30. Putin suggests Germans replace nuclear with firewood
    01 December 2010
    Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin has told German businessmen that they may have to rely on Russian firewood for heating if they do not want to construct new nuclear power plants or bring in Russian gas supplies. At a business conference organized in Berlin by the German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung, Putin recognised that “the German public does not like the nuclear power industry for some reason.” He continued: “But I cannot understand what fuel you will take for heating. You do not want gas, you do not develop the nuclear power industry, so you will heat with firewood?” Putin then noted, “You will have to go to Siberia to buy the firewood there,” as Europeans “do not even have firewood.”

  31. Switching to a less efficient form of energy production could NEVER cause an increase in GDP. It’s like switching your GI tract with one that is 25% as efficient as your old one. You’ll be eating four times as much food just to get the energy that you had before. The extra resources spent on gathering the energy means less resources going to other activities. In other words, instead of buying that new television or going out to eat twice a week, families will be spending that money on electricity instead. Less efficiency means more waste, less GDP.

  32. Wait for the next nuklear to burst. I hope its not in Germany. Wait for the renewables to work, it will be in Germany. And that’s because in Germany there are the smartest Ingenieurs worldwide. Its only a matter of time.

  33. If they’d skipped the solar and wind and concentrated on more nuclear plants, the Energiewende might’ve been headed on the road to success.

    • As many of the greens have stated, their goal is the de-industrialization of the west.
      So they are already headed for success.

      • German greens are a bit different… well worth researching their approach to see how.
        You will note Germany is still one of the world’s largest economies and industrial/engineering powers

    • If we skip wind and solar its no “Energiewende”. Btw. wind turbines are the most productive renewable in Germany. We are just expanding the power grid so that the electricity can be routed from the wind power stations in the North Sea to southern Germany where it is needed.

      • “wind turbines are the most productive renewable in Germany” And yet Germany has to buy electric from countries who produce electricity by burning coal and operating nuclear power plants. Got it. Renewables are a failure.

  34. Who makes the decision to put posts from this “publication” on the RealClearPolitics Energy page? What’s the purpose of posting junk articles like this, especially from esteemed researchers such as A. Z.Comendador – I’m real sure that’s his real name.
    So let me clue you in. The age of fossil fuels is over. Coal is dead and there’s nothing President Racist-Bigot is going to do about. Oil is next – the price crash continued today with no end in site.
    The age of renewable energy is here. The solar and wind juggernaut will not be stopped. I have a 4.14kW solar array – trust me, I know how it works, I know the truth. Your lies about what’s happening in Germany and around the world are worthless, and won’t help the fossil-fuel cronies who fund this garbage.
    So get on board, get out of the way, or get run over.
    So that’s What’s Up with That!!!!

    • So, you run your whole house with that 4.14kW panel? What do you do at night? How many batteries do you use and what is their life expectancy?
      Coal is not only dead, it’s coming back.
      Oil won’t be dead for hundreds of years.
      Price crash? Do you always project 3 month trends out forever?
      What solar and wind juggernaut, remove the subsidies and it dies instantly.
      PS: I love the way you just declare facts you don’t like to be lies. Let me guess, you’re in the 3rd grade.

      • MarkW displays his ignorance of PV solar. One does not need batteries if they use a grid tie inverter.

      • And where does that grid tie power come from????
        Get off the grid, then come back. (assuming you have enough power run your computer.) [I ran my 14kW propane generator for 4 hours yesterday while the grid was down. How many solar panels did Joseph have? Oh yeah – probably less than a quarter of what I need – and only necessary parts of my farm are powered.]

      • The power for the grid tie comes from the panels. Joe had 4.14kW of panels, (read his post.) You can get more if you need more.

        • So, he got his electric from the “grid”, not from one panel. Okey dokey, then.

    • “I have a 4.14kW solar array – trust me, I know how it works, I know the truth. Your lies …”
      So Hall, do you want to tell us how well it works? That’s how you tell the truth.

  35. As others have noted, it is a mugs game trying to decipher any of this honestly, other than to say it ain’t so honest and has had minimal impact on reducing emissions or increasing GDP as a result of striving to transform to a low carbon economy. Many obvious mistakes were made, including implementing roof top solar in a low solar radiant geography, which runs at some of the lowest efficiencies of installed name plate vs. actual Kw/hr production. With huge costs to replicate back up spinning demand for solar/wind inefficient density.
    If the Germans had kept their nuclear energy assets operational for their intended lifespan, then they probably would have led the world in this premature misguided effort that will have little impact on lowering temperatures by 2050. And we don’t even really know that cooler temperatures are actually beneficial for the environment or the economy. Especially the agricultural economy that relies on warmer is better than cooler.
    The off loading of many CO2 processed items that the Germans import don’t accrue to their carbon balance sheet either, so it doesn’t count. This is the first fraud in the accounting. And one that all other low carbon nations fail to account for as well. So the whole point is already lost when the exercise itself is fraudulent. In fact, this is a total fraud for all other nations importing product that was produced in China. Sort of like Canada wanting to claim the moral high ground on lowering emissions at home while exporting their coal by the boat load to China. And then importing all that junk back into the country while not accounting for any CO2 consumed in the manufacturing and shipping of such. Talk about fiction.
    The only upside to this current failed experiment is that we will have some experience and knowledge with non fossil fuel power generation in about 33 years (2050) from now when oil and gas technology will be very expensive due to higher costs extracting from more inaccessible locations and costlier non traditional oil supplies. Maybe I am wrong about this, because if the whole world gets fracked, then maybe there is whole lot more fossil fuels that don’t peak until well after 2050. But we do run short on carbon based fuels in our grand children’s lifetimes, so planning to transition to something else is not completely in vain.

  36. I don’t have a Twitter account, but I do read the site. It seems Paul Krugman has gone on a series of really profound tweets:
    ‘Climate change is the rain; climate policy the umbrella. What do we know?
    1. Climate change could be really, truly, civilization-ending bad
    2. Mitigation policy is NOT hugely costly. We have lots of evidence and experience: pollution control done well not at odds with growth
    And the usual record is that market-based stuff — cap&trade or taxes — ends up much cheaper than expected. Check history of acid rain
    Oh, and renewable technology has made action even cheaper than optimists imagined. So uncertainty is NOT a reason to do nothing’
    There you have it: scrubbers in power plant smokestacks were relatively cheap to deploy, therefore switching off fossil fuels will also be cheap. Genius.
    May someone send him a link to this article?
    PS: not to beat a dead horse, but has anyone noticed that proponents of CO2 emission cuts never talk about the costs/results of the actual CO2 emission policies? It’s always CFCs, scrubbers or some other totally unrelated stuff. Have they been under a rock the last 20 years?

    • We were able to put scrubbers on power plants, therefore we can also get the CO2 out as well.
      Krugman is and has always been a shill for who ever is paying him the most.

  37. A good article but I would add an important fact. The emissions per GDP are averages and should be takes as such. However I note that Germany, the world’s leader is decarbonization has seen it’s cost of electricity skyrocket and it is not completed its climb. The price of electricity has either tripled or quadrupled (I have read both). Thus it is a certainty that poor homes have experienced their power being cut off for lack of ability to pay. How many are dark and cold? And maybe without water if they have a well?
    These are also the cost of environmentalism.

    • The price of electricity has either tripled or quadrupled
      It’s a bit more complex than that although you’re not entirely wrong. My understanding is that that in order to keep their industry competitive, Germany (and Denmark) have kept electric rates to manufacturers down and made up the difference by raising rates for residential users. Add in the bribes to Wind and Solar generators and you end up with rates even higher than Hawaii where fossil fuels for power generation have to be imported from the mainland 4000km distant.
      Maybe one of the German readers can clarify or provide further details.

      • That’s substantially the case – largest industrial concerns are exempt from the renewable element of electricity cost.
        but note that Germans use far less electricity than US households and are much more likely to have solar panels and/or a share in a renewable energy production scheme – the largest part of German renewables is owned by individuals and communities.

  38. Ah… WUWT misses the mark once again. The initial goal of the energiewende was to close all nuclear plants without increasing CO2 emissions. As this article shows that has been a resounding success. Another beautiful example of the lies WUWT peddles.

    • Tripling energy prices is a “resounding success” ??…I’m sure the poor would not agree…

      • This is the big difference between USA and Germany. Even the poor have enough for life, housing, energy and heating. Everyone has the right to social assistance. You may call it socialism I call it human.

    • Yup, increase the costs so that the poor can no longer afford electricity is a good way to keep your emissions down.
      Too bad for those who are dying in the dark.

    • 1) neither this article nor my comments mentioned energy prices. Deflecting is super childish.
      2) electricity prices in Germany are 30% or so higher than in my country (the Netherlands) which has hardly any renewables. ‘Triple’ is just another fake news statistic you just throw in there in lieu of actual analysis.

      • Your country, the Netherlands, imports nuclear-generated electricity from France. It used to import that electricity from coal-fired\nuclear-powered Germany.

      • Reg, France now imports more from Germany than it exports to it – and that’s as much renewable as coal power

    • benben, Germany has only closed 8 of its 17 reactors. They are burning brown lignite coal to replace the phase out of the nuclear, and while building out renewables, they still need base load power as well as spinning reserve to come online instantly if the wind quits blowing, or sun is shaded.
      “Following the March 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, Germany has permanently shut down eight of its 17 reactors and pledged to close the rest by the end of 2022.”

      • They’ve closed another since 2011 Ron and the rest go in phases by the end of 2022. This year for various reasons 4 of the 8 remaining have been offline at same time, with no impact…
        also, they always did burn lignite… now they are burning it in the new plant they built since 2008 (they won’t build any more coal plant now). It is renewables that made up the slack from the nuclear plant.
        Increasingly they have grid scale batteries to replace spinning reserve and are grouping hydro/wind/solar/fuel cells etc into virtual power stations, so there’s always something producing power.

    • For example, Vermont closed its nuclear plant and now they have to pay for an “extension cord” to Quebec to obtain hydro electric power.

    • yes… so Ron Williams, what you’re saying is that Germany closed a number of it’s nuclear plants while keeping its CO2 emissions neutral (as per the data in this article). Which was the exact aim of the energiewende. I’ll guess I’ll have to take that as a ‘Ben, you are right, but for some reason I can’t just outright say that, so I’ll do it in some circumspect way’. Thanks Ron, I appreciate it anyway 😉
      @Barbara, how is that relevant to Germany? Other side of the ocean?

      • The same thing has happened in the U.S. Close a nuclear power plant and and obtain “green” power else where.
        Presidential Permits | Department Of Energy
        Re: Vermont electricity tie to Quebec.
        Details here:
        PP-400 TDI-New England 12/05/16
        Click on: PP-400 TDI-New England > PP-400 TDI-New England.pdf.
        There is internet information that emissions have increased in Vermont since the 2014 closure of their nuclear power plant.

        • More people burning wood to heat homes and businesses, coal too. Also free standing electric generators using various types of fuel. Simply put, people are not going to live without electricity. Unless government uses armed force to compel us.

      • Barbara, I wouldn’t doubt your ‘internet information’. But as this WUWT article clearly shows, the germans managed to close a lot of their nuclear plants without increasing their CO2 emissions. Which is exactly what I said, which is exactly what happened. *sigh*

    • So, you are now claiming the nuclear plants in France are renewables? Okey dokey, griffie.

      • You mean the nuclear plants in France? You are jumping on the griffie bandwagon of fantasy, too? Again, okey dokey.

  39. Griff writes, “but note that Germans use far less electricity than US households and are much more likely to have solar panels and/or a share in a renewable energy production scheme – the largest part of German renewables is owned by individuals and communities.”
    So why is that a good thing? Stupid people say such stupid things. You hear the same thing from idiots in California.
    First off, the US is a very diverse country climate wise. Second, Americans tend to enjoy more living space in out homes, even the poor. Increased power usage is an indication of a higher standard of living.
    The environmental impact of the US power system is insignificant these days. That means renewables can not have a beneficial impact on the environment. PV owned by individuals in northern climates is all environmental impact from the manufacturing phase and no benefit.

  40. Not one nuclear plant has been built to reduce ghg. Nukes were built to make electricity, just as hydro and fossil plants were. Subsequently, evaluations were done to determine the environmental impact of existing plants and proposed new plants including ghg.
    On a per kwh basis, nuclear outperforms everything including wind and solar. That is what the life cycle analysis determined.
    During the end of the Clinton/Gore energy disaster, I worked for Duke Energy. Clinton/Gore having failed to get ghg legislation, established a voluntary ghg reduction reporting system. The huge reduction came from the likes of Duke and TVA. Improvements and nuke and coal plants were not made to reduce ghg but as a result of economic decisions.
    Clinton/Gore were anti nukes and pushed for the phase out of nuclear. Since the US was an early leader in building nukes, it was the early leader in extending the life of nuke plants. At the time, US utilities did not have a choice to build new nukes.
    At $5/MMBTU for natural gas every US nuke plant is economical.
    So is closing old nukes phasing out nuclear power or an economic choice?
    Lost of money has to be invested to extend the life of any power plant. France made the choice to build new nukes. Subsequently, the French brought up as much US nuclear technology as they could. The French learned how to extend the life of their fleet.

  41. No reduction in CO2 per KWh as a result of energiewende, per German government figures. Wholly predictable on the science fact. The result of irrational anti-nuclear beliefs in technically pre-failed renewables. THis is hardcore energy science denial on the established physics. Because the woefully inadeqaute energy intensity and uncontrollable intermittency and variability of renewable enrgy sources compared to fossil or nuclear fuel cannot deliver the enrgy the grid requires, when required. These are basic laws of physics and facts that subsidy law and delusional faith can never fix.
    Of course this has also happened through a greater science denial, in the most intense, most decarbonising, least physical(concrete/steel, fuel) and land resource using, least environementally damaging, cheapest, all you need when you need it, safest and wholly sustainable replacement for fossil energy. They are turning that off. By law.
    Germans seem to prefer belief in undeliverable extremist propaganda to the rational facts and realities they “don’t like”. Now facing the most expensive electricity in Europe for no actual gain, along with the Danes, while Poland and Czechoslovakia install technology on their grid borders to stop Germany dumping unwanted peak renewable energy on their grids, while supplying Germany the electricity it needs from coal and nuclear when the sun don’t shine and the wind don’t blow. Bonkers! What happens when politicians interfere with the laws of physics and fail to do the maths. FACT: When fossil is gone Germany has one energy source that can keep it developed. Subsidy farming renewables cannot, the laws of physics will always win. Better get over themselves by then. Energiewende isn’t wending, and never could. Green science denial doesn’t deliver the joules.

  42. The nuclear excuse is very weak for two reasons:
    a) It was part of the Energiewende plan from the beginning
    b) It’s not clear at all that large amounts of wind and solar can coexist with large amounts of nuclear. The former is intermittent while the latter cannot adjust output quickly (unlike coal and, especially, gas plants).
    None of the countries with 30% or more of their electricity coming from a nuclear get a significant share from renewables. See:
    But there’s an even more basic reason the nuclear excuse doesn’t make sense: the emission numbers themselves.
    Electricity accounts for about 40% of Germany’s emissions of CO2 from combustion. Nuclear power in the last year analyzed, 2015, accounted for 17% of electricity generation; this is down from about 32% in 1999. In other words, even if nuclear output had been kept at 32% percent of electricity amid the renewables ramp-up, Germany would only have avoided emissions worth 15% of 40% – which is to say 6% of total emissions. (Both total emissions and electricity generation were very similar in 1999 and in 2015, so you can use either year as the basis for calculations).
    Had Germany achieved a 6% reduction in emissions over 15 years, this would be equivalent to an improvement of 0.4% a year. In other words: instead of 2% a year, the country’s decarbonization rate would have been 2.4% a year.

    • Both Sweden and Switzerland are above 30% of nuclear, and have a very percentage of renewable. Maybe you reject hydraulic from the renewable definition, so you should say new renewable, only wind and solar. But then only a few countries have a significant percentage of those. Nuclear can be made to follow load, and it’s done quite a lot in France, it’s generally easier than for coal where the thermal stress of a quick change in temperature can have really bad consequences. German’s coal plant are now quite able to follow load, but they all had to be upgraded and modified for that. Even combined cycle gas has some constraints on how quickly it can change production, and the lowest level it can maintain, so is not necessarily better than nuclear in this regard.
      6% less emissions wouldn’t change the world, but it’d mean they would near their 2020 target, that they are sure to miss now.
      Of course, if they had invested even a portion of what they have spent into renewable in nuclear, they could have divided their CO2 emissions from electricity generation by 10 like France has, with enough money left to invest in the strongest security for those plants (the Fukushima accident is fully explained by the effort of Tepco to save money on everything and not properly train the team for an accident, as well as have no plan ready to bring spare cooling equipment by helicopter. Still the accident itself resulted in many time less casualties than just one year of pollution from the German coal plants).

      • I know several countries combine nuclear with hydro just fine. My point is that no country so far has been able to combine nuclear with intermittent renewables, i.e. wind and solar. Since most of the good hydro sites are already taken, that has some big implications.

      • Ok, now I see my wording was unhelpful. Where I said ‘None of the countries with 30% or more of their electricity coming from a nuclear get a significant share from renewables’ – as you noticed, I should have said wind and solar, not renewables.

      • JM, how much training do you get in your work place for 1000 yr natural disasters?
        There was no need for a helicopter, spare cooling equipment was already on site. However, as result of the damage, working conditions were very dangerous. The three casualties at Fukushima occurred as a result of the natural disaster before any core damage.
        When the plant manager got word that the nearby communities had been evacuated, he pulled his workers back. As in the US, we are trained not risk lives to protect equipment.
        There is no reason rational to think core damage on a LWR will result anyone being hurt. No was hurt by radiation. There is a boat load of irrational reasons, especially in Germany.

  43. @Alberto
    “My point is that no country so far has been able to combine nuclear with intermittent renewables, i.e. wind and solar.”
    So why build wind and solar?
    Alberto has it backwards. Nuke plants were built to make electricity long before CAGW.
    If you need electricity and are worried about ghg, nukes are the proven answer.
    I do not think you will ever need to worry about too much wind and solar. It breaks faster than you can build it at some point.

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