The German offshore windfarm known as Riffgat power plant is located nine miles off the North Sea island of Bokum and has just started turning. There is an ironic problem with this initial kickstart of these gleeful wind turbines.
You ask what could the irony be? These wind turbines are spinning because they are hooked up to electrical power that is generated via on-shore fossil fuel power stations. They are spinning via fossil fuel energy to keep them from corroding from the salty sea air.
The electric grid operator has not connected a power line to these energy generating wind turbines because they cannot find a single investor financing company not even from the greenest companies available to invest in Germany.
You would think in Germany which is considered the benchmark in green energy investing there would be atleast one investing company willing to take the plunge in investing in clean energy but alas no one.
Investing companies are leary because there is a lack of market confidence in windfarms and especially wind energy that is generated offshore. Things such as the expense of the electricity generated and foreseeable maintenance issues are one main financial concern for investors.
Combine these issues with a German government that is faced with the need to cut back on green subsidies as they are ridiculously expensive and have skyrocketed their electricity prices 300 % compared to US electric prices.
There are still about a half-dozen wind farms being constructed in the North Sea and I myself have even talked to a couple of the wind turbine engineers on airline trips in and around Germany.
Even with all the construction there are no follow up contracts to be heard of. Ronney Meyer is the managing director of Windenergie Agentur and he himself explained that the market indeed has completely collapsed.
Nobody is investing in offshore wind turbines and the reason is very simple, the German government has closed that door, let that ship sail, and is likely to never return.
The reality has bit Germany right in the pocket book as the mystery for why green is failing is no mystery at all. Taxpayers, ratepayers, and even politicians have recognized that subsidy-dependent windfarms make absolutely no economic sense.
This windfarm industry was a failed experiment that was predicted long before it got thrust into politics and now Germany is facing the music to the billions of dollars in lost tax payer dollars.
Germany has had no other choice but to plan for a cap on electricity prices as they will predictably continue to skyrocket out of control. With a cap in place they have to stop the bleeding as consumers no longer have to pay the high prices which means subsidies on windfarms have to stop.
Investors in windfarms are not stupid and realize that their profit windfalls were coming from these government subsidies all along and so they have abandoned any further construction on these dinosaurs.
Greenies should not become disheartened as you can see new technology and energy inventions coming about at record pace and so you can be confident that a free market left to trade on its own will come out with something far better than a government mandate to build inferior energy technology.
Only as far back as June 12th there was a conference held in Berlin in which Chancellor Angela Merkel asked for a scaling back of renewable energy subsidies and she is as liberal as they come.
This scaling back has nothing to do with a politician being controlled by “Big Oil” and everything to do with spiraling costs that have reached close to $30 billion dollars per year.
Based on the continuous rising renewable surcharge there would simply come a point at which energy supply is diminished to such that people will have unreliable power coming to their homes and businesses.
The surge in renewables hit such a point that it started clogging the German power grid making it difficult for traditional power companies to stay in business which is a problem because renewables work in tandem with fossil fuels to provide continuous energy during high demand periods and times when wind isn’t blowing and sun isn’t shining.
The attempt at increasing incentives to windfarms to somehow blow life into it happened several times where they now receive 19 cents for each kilowatt hour fed into the grid.
This subsidy was twice the amount terrestrial wind turbines received which shows you just how absurd these subsidies had become to taxpayers.
The perception had been that the construction of wind farms in the ocean would boost declining coastal German economies but it had the opposite effect.
You have the example of the state of Lower Saxony which granted $165 million in harbor improvements but all you have to show for it now is a place for seagulls to land.
However in Cuxhaven, where the state of Lower Saxony kicked in $165 million in harbor improvements, only seagulls now land there. A 70 soccer field wide area for wind turbine contruction all shutdown and 450 people out of work.
The sustainability project was simply not sustainable in a place where most liberal Americans would die to sip on an espresso while reading Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” as they soak in the grins of approval from greenies sitting nearby.
Even popular mainstream Der Spiegel weekly blasted the German policies of the green movement as they wrote about the high taxpayer and consumer cost penalties of failed green energy policies.
Germany’s investment of over $250 billion in renewable energy and the immediate closure of nuclear power stations right after Fukushima have resulted in large scale self-inflicted economic hardships.
German’s now pay the 2nd highest electricity and power costs in all of Europe as you will find that the residential electric rate is about 300 % higher than the average rate in the USA.
By 2020 Germany expects to get 35 % of its electricity from renewable energy but if the trend continues in reducing subsidies in wind and solar it will likely come from nuclear and more efficient technologies of the future.
With the cutoff of nuclear the ironic twist is that they now import nuclear power from France and Czech Republic at a higher rate while placing bets on offshore windfarms to replace nuclear which resulted in much higher construction, maintenance and power transmission costs than they ever expected.
What you now have with German wind is only 1/5th of installed capacity actually being used to generate electricity. Most of these things sit uselessly on the landscape and in the ocean clogging up the scenery.
Even in the U.K. they are only able to produce energy at about 21 % of installed capacity during the best of days. If you have a freezing winter day the output barely registers on the scales.
The U.K has also had to resort to importing nuclear power from France because of their windfarm dilemma. Just think if France had to shutdown their nuclear plant, the energy supply would look pretty dire in most of Europe.
These green policies in the U.K. closed many old coal power plants prior to their planned decommissioning resulting in higher electricity prices all the while knowing that just one of these plants could produce about double the electricity of all of Britain’s 3,000 windturbines put together.
If horrible cringe worthy electricity prices weren’t enough the power blackouts only add to the buyers remorse of many of the “do gooder” greeny citizens that thought they were saving the environment from Armageddon by the reduction of CO2 gases.
With the blackouts and sticker shock on the electric bill consumers are being slapped silly out of their psychodelic trance Al Gore had placed on them and are starting to see the need for balance when it comes to the economy and being a steward of the environment.
Base load power from hydro, nuclear and coal is virtually eliminated and then you have intermittent wind and solar which creates a demand-response that simply cannot be met which is why they come calling to France to bail them out with nuclear.
You simply cannot meet immediate demand of power with solar or wind, it simply doesn’t shine and blow as you need the power but things like nuclear and coal actually do do that.
Many greenies having never actually thought about supply and demand and economics at this depth are waking up and even the leftists of them all are changing their tune. As it turns out there are not many people out their that can resist the efficiency and convenience of fossil fuel and nuclear based power on demand.
The grid operator in the E.U. have even spoken up to say they are “deeply concerned about the differences in speed between the connection of very large capacities of renewable energy resources and the realization in due time of the grid investment needed to support the massive increase of power flows these new resources bring.”
In just the next decade Germany will need to invest about $100 billion in transmission and distribution upgrades for renewable technology that has already taken a backseat politically.
Is their a teachable moment for us here in the United States of America?
With our natural gas, coal fired plants, and nuclear we are sitting quite well but Texas has recently been hit with EPA regulations that are expected to wipe out every last coal plant in the state of Texas.
The retrofits needed to capture CO2 coming out of the steam driven turbines at coal plants is so costly it only offers the choice of closing down the power plant completely. The EPA regulations in effect result in a penalty so harsh there is no way to keep the power plant open.
You could say the federal government has reached into the Republic of Texas and has nulled the sovereignty of the state to such a degree as to virtually tax everyone with an electric rate expected to triple because of these actions.
The first example you will see that resembles Europe is the state of California that are increasing renewable requirements while shuttering coal fired power plants at record pace in the midst of a disastrous economy.
Some American wind industry companies have voiced that rolling back the 30 % wind energy subsidies would be a good thing simply because these subsidies have encouraged wind energy companies to continue to produce substandard products while virtually no time or investment is spent on research and development.
The free market competitive innovative system we have in America has its benefits and what better place than in renewables. The government should lay off on subsidies and let the newer more efficient ideas find their place.
With the subsidies the government was granting to wind energy companies you even started to see wind turbines being built in really terrible unreliable less windy areas simply because their was profit to be had.
This inefficient placement of wind turbines caused wind-power prices to increase to about $54 per megawatt-hour compared with $37 as it had been in 2005.
In summary we need to let the free market system take over the electric utility market. There are amazing innovations, inventions, and nanotechnology that is coming out at record pace but it won’t be used by private companies as long as the government keeps stepping in to reward inefficient methods as what we see has caused Europe to have 300 % higher electricity prices compared to us here in America.