Renewables: 3 Reasons Why Germany Is Kicking Butt…

Ownership of Germany's Renewable Energy Capacity

From Clean Technica

Germany is racing past 20% renewable energy on its electricity grid, but news stories stridently warn that this new wind and solar power is costing “billions.” But often left out (or buried far from the lede) is the overwhelming popularity of the country’s relentless focus on energy change (energiewende).

How can a supposedly expensive effort to clean up the energy supply be so popular?

1. It’s about the cost, not the price

Most news stories focus on the cost of electricity in Germany, which has some of the highest rates per kilowatt-hour in the world.  But they don’t note that the average German electricity bill – about $100 a month – is the same as for most Americans.  Germans are much more efficient users of energy than most, so they can afford higher rates without having higher bills.  (Note to self: check out options for energy efficiency).

2. It’s about vision

Germany doesn’t just have an incremental approach to renewable energy, but a commitment supported by 84 percent of residents to get to 100% renewable energy “as quickly as possible.”  A few U.S. states have renewable energy visions (e.g. 33% by 2020, 25% by 2025) that approach Germany’s, but they’re mired in the notion that despite enormous savings to society in terms of health and environmental benefits, renewable energy shouldn’t cost any more today than conventional, dirty energy on the utility bill.  Germans have taken the long view (about energy security, price volatility, etc).

3. It’s about ownership

I lied in #1.  Support for Germany’s renewable energy quest isn’t about cost of energy, but about the opportunity to own a slice of the energy system.  Millions of Germans are building their retirement nest egg by individually or collectively owning a share of wind and solar power plants supplying clean energy to their communities. Nearly half of the country’s 63,000 megawatts of wind and solar power is owned locally, and these energy owners care as much about the persistence of renewable energy they own as they do about the energy bill they pay. Not only do these German energy owners reduce their own net cost of energy, every dollar diverted from a distant multinational utility company multiplies throughout their local economy. 

Not only does local ownership flip the notion of energy costs as consumers become producers, it also flips the notion of political ownership. Three-quarters of Germans want to maintain a focus on “citizen-managed, decentralized renewable energy.”

The tunnel vision on cost so prevalent in the press reflects the perspective of incumbent utilities, whose market share declines as their former customers produce their own power. It’s a story that plays out in the U.S., when debates over new power plants focus narrowly on the cost per kilowatt-hour rather than how an individual or community can retain more of their energy dollar.

It may seem that Germany is going renewable “at all costs,” but only if we are resigned to being energy consumers.  Because their and our energy transition is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take charge of our energy future.  That’s priceless.

One Comment

Another ad from the techie porn industry. Germany cannot be “100% Renewable” in energy as it is NOT possible except in a plant growing/eating type of energy source. Muscle power.

They will need a backup for the 80% of the time that wind and solar do not produce. Also, they need the systems that make both solar and other ‘renewables’ possible. Mining, manufacturing, shipping, etc. None of which can be maintained with ‘renewables’.

Think about it. What is going to make a 100+ ton mining machine? Power it? Haul the millions of tons of ores to the smelter?. Smelt the materials? Haul them to the foundry for pouring? Haul them to the factory for assembly? Feed,house, clothe the factory workers and all those in the system previous and ahead? Then ship the product to a warehouse, then to a store then to the customer? Roads? Bridges? Foundry, factory, warehouse, store buildings? And on and on.

NO combination of true ‘renewables’ have that much NET EXCESS energy to spare if they are going to power the rest of society. NONE! The current system was built with cheap, ($2 bbl oil) plentiful energy (1 trillion bbls of oil) not the dwindling, expensive energy of today.