Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Germany's $130B Solar Experiment Delays Global Warming by 23 hours!

Alternate Headline: Knock me over with a feather.

Ok, followers of this site know that I am not a big fan of government mandated subsidized green jobs initiatives. My point as always is that I am not opposed to alternative energy sources; my only stipulation is that they make sense in the market place and is driven by honest market demand. However, when government starts pushing technology that they know nothing about bad things almost always happen like crony capitalism, artificial incentives in the market and taxpayer dollars flushed down the toilet. Oh yeah, and products that have no viable relevance in the market place.

However, once a government has drunk from the preverbal green jobs Kool-aid, it is often fun to watch as the initiative falls apart. As exhibit A, I give you the solar panel initiative the German government shoveled $130 Billion into that is now going the way of the condor. This from Slate:

Germany once prided itself on being the "photovoltaic world champion", doling out generous subsidies—totaling more than $130 billion, according to research from Germany's Ruhr University—to citizens to invest in solar energy. But now the German government is vowing to cut the subsidies sooner than planned and to phase out support over the next five years What went wrong?

I think a better question is did anything go right?

It is estimated that this increase alone will lead to a $260 hike in the average consumer's annual power bill.

Ouch! But wait, It gets better:

Indeed, despite the massive investment, solar power accounts for only about 0.3 percent of Germany's total energy (that's one third of one percent folks!). This is one of the key reasons why Germans now pay the second-highest price for electricity in the developed world (exceeded only by Denmark, which aims to be the "world wind-energy champion"). Germans pay three times more than their American counterparts.

Moreover, this sizeable investment does remarkably little to counter global warming. Even with unrealistically generous assumptions, the unimpressive net effect is that solar power reduces Germany's CO2 emissions by roughly 8 million metric tons—or about 1 percent – for the next 20 years. To put it another way: By the end of the century, Germany's $130 billion solar panel subsidies will have postponed temperature increases by 23 hours.

Double Ouch! And here's the real kicker:

It gets worse: Because Germany is part of the European Union Emissions Trading System, the actual effect of extra solar panels in Germany leads to no CO2 reductions, because total emissions are already capped. Instead, the Germans simply allow other parts of the EU to emit more CO2. Germany's solar panels have only made it cheaper for Portugal or Greece to use coal.

Triple Ouch!

In the meantime, Germans have paid about $130 billion for a climate-change policy that has no impact on global warming. They have subsidized Chinese jobs and other European countries' reliance on dirty energy sources. And they have needlessly burdened their economy. As even many German officials would probably attest, governments elsewhere cannot afford to repeat the same mistake.

So, this initiative cost $130 Billion, actually increases CO2, sent jobs to china. raised energy costs for taxpayers and accounts for less than 1/3 of 1% of total energy consumption in Germany. Have I forgotten anything? Oh yeah, their national security is further at risk because they have to import energy! Well done!

Good thing the Obama administration is paying attention, oh, wait a minute. Doh!


  1. Your criticisms are naive and irrelevant. The goal of the policy was to make German politicians feel good by demonstrating their good intentions about protecting the environment. That goal was accomplished. How many billions of dollars were lost and how little electricty was produced is an irrelevant side issue. The policy was a success.

    1. Mark,

      Ouch - I hate it when I get called out. I know, I know the REAL objective is for all of us to all bow down to Mother Gaia and ultimately live in caves wearing wicker skirts. Thanks for the comment!

  2. First, don't let the left define the argument, man made global warming is BS.

    Second, Solar panels have been around since the 1970's when I was a kid and yet it has never achived the status of a replacement energy source, wonder why.

    1. Oh, yes. I recall living in a neighborhood in the mid-80's where a lot of the houses had solar panels on their roofs. I also recall a fairly vicious hailstorm that came through and destroyed all those panels. I further recall the dismay of my neighbors when they discovered that, absenting a special rider, their homeowner's insurance didn't cover the solar panels.

      Truly, I do wish the solar industry well, and perhaps in 10 or 20 or 40 or 70 years solar energy will be a viable source. But it isn't viable today and the mandates toward it are just stupid.


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