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German Solar Energy Industry Crashes As Government Ends Subsidies

basil_hallwardApr 25, 2018, 3:32:38 PM

Solar panels not much use under Germany's cloudy skies (Image source: https://inhabitat.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/)

We are getting reports from German business news websites that Germany’s solar industry has crashed and burned after the government drastically cut its subsidies. Piere Gosselin, writing in No Tricks Zone reports:

"In 2012 over 7000 megawatts of new solar capacity were added. But in 2012 the boom ended abruptly as new laws on feed-in rates were enacted in order to keep the solar energy supply from going out of control. In 2017, only 600 megawatts of new capacity were expected to be added. That’s a 90% drop!"

It is very easy to understand why this German love affair with solar power ended. Another chart on the same page shows that in 2007 solar operators in Germany received a guaranteed feed-in tariff of 49.2 euro-cents per KWh (kilowatt hour); today they are just 12.7 euro-cents per KWh.

As legendary investor Warren Buffett once said of his wind energy investments: “They don’t make sense without the tax credit" Solar suffers from exactly the same problems having a similarly intermittent energy source to drive its generators, especially in a country like Germany which sees little sunshine at certain times of the year.

In December 2017, for example, the sun shone on Germany for a total of just ten hours of sunshine in the whole month. So while theoretically its installed solar capacity – a huge 40 gigawatts – is almost enough to power half the country at lunchtime on a sunny day, most of the time it is next to useless. Another problem the sci - tech fanboys don't understand is that just as with wind there is quite a small window of wind speeds suitable for optimum generation, (wind speed too low there isn't enought power to turn over the turbine, too high and they overheat,) so with sun and elevation, and in northern Germany in winter the sun is only high enough to generate power for two or three hours a day, even on sunny days.

Germany’s much vaunted transition from fossil fuel power to renewables – its Energiewende – which has been one of Angela Merkel's flagship policies will have cost the economy an estimated €520 billion ($635 billion) by 2020. This is about 25,000 Euros ($30,500) per family of four.

The collapse of Germany's solar energy initiative puts into perspective US Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt’s recent comments on renewables.

“It’s not the job of this agency, or any job in the federal government, to use regulatory power to favor of one sector of the economy over another. And what you saw with the past administration is just that — an attitude that says fossil fuel … is something that should be diminished in favor of, what, renewables. That doesn’t mean renewables shouldn’t be a part of our electricity-generation mix. It should be. But to use regulatory power to favor renewables at the expense natural gas, oil and coal is just something that’s not within the regulatory powers of this agency. And so we’re fixing that.’

Pruitt may well wish to pay lip-service to the notion that renewables “should” be part of America’s “electricity-generation mix.” In reality, however, he knows that is only going to happen with government subsidies. In other words us poor punters pay not only for our electricity but for the wind and solar farm operators limousines, luxury yachts and private jets.


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