Monday, January 7, 2013

Is Germany's energy transformation coal powered?

The EU, and Germany, like to portray themselves as leader when it comes to progressive climate policies. Germany in particular has adopted several policies dear to the environmentalist movement, the phasing out of nuclear energy while at the same time increasing renewable energies. Such is the enthusiasm that it seems to escape attention that the necessary back up energy mainly comes from coal, which is the dirtiest form of energy and the most damaging to climate. The Economist has two articles on the subject (here and here) which are worth a read.



Here is a quote from the second article, entitled Europe’s dirty secret: The unwelcome renaissance.

Europe’s energy policy delivers the worst of all possible worlds

Germany has an ambitious plan to shift from fossil fuels and nuclear power to renewables like solar and wind (this is called the Energiewende, or energy transformation). Electricity from renewables gets priority on the grid. That has allowed wind and solar to grab market share from fossil energy during the most profitable times of day, when utilities used to make most of their money and burning gas made sense (German electricity prices are at their highest in the middle of the day when solar generation is also strongest). By displacing conventional forms of energy this way renewables have undermined utilities’ finances. Moody’s, a ratings agency, recently said the whole sector’s creditworthiness is under threat.


In response, companies are switching from gas to coal as fast as they can, so renewables are in fact displacing gas but not coal. In Germany, RWE, the biggest user of coal in Europe, generated 72% of its electricity from coal and lignite (a dirtier, low-grade form of coal) in the first nine months of 2012, compared with 66% over the same period in 2011. Germany needs new capacity because it is closing down its nuclear plants: RWE is building a new coal-fired plant in Hamm, in North Rhine-Westphalia and another in Emshaven in the Netherlands. E.ON, Germany’s biggest power producer, is also building a new coal-fired plant in North Rhine-Westphalia. It and its partners are considering shutting down a gas-fired plant in Bavaria. Vattenfall, a Swedish state-owned company, has just completed a lignite-fired plant in eastern Germany and is building a coal plant near Hamburg. EnBW, based in southern Germany, is building a coal-fired plant in Karlsruhe, and another jointly with RWE in Mannheim.
 
What are the reasons for this? You will be hardly surprised that they are economic. "At the beginning of November 2012, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, a research firm, power utilities in Germany were set, on average, to lose €11.70 when they burned gas to make a megawatt of electricity, but to earn €14.22 per MW when they burned coal."
But what about the carbon markets which should have taken care of this? Argues the Economist,
In theory, Europe’s carbon price, provided by a cap-and-trade system, the emissions trading scheme (ETS), should have stopped all this from happening. The ETS carbon price should in principle go up when emissions do, as more emissions mean more demand for the carbon credits that the scheme works with. So you might expect the carbon price to have soared in 2012. In fact the price was flat for most of the year, trading between €6 and €8 per tonne ...
Carbon beyond price
The problem is that when the system was set up, regulators allowed companies overly generous permits to pollute, in part because of lobbying and in part because the effects of the recession were not foreseen. This oversupply has swamped the impact of emissions from coal-fired power plants. On November 12th the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, proposed that some of the excess carbon credits be withdrawn. But the proposal, which has been held up by opposition from Poland, might not do all that much.
Policy uncertainties are growing. The EU has a lot of other things on its plate, so no one has much appetite for tough decisions about energy at the moment, such as how to save the ETS. In 2014 there will be a new European Commission and a new European Parliament, which means Europe-wide decisions about energy risk being put off for a couple more years at least. As Europe’s energy targets (on renewables use and efficiency) are supposed to be met by 2020, this timetable suggests there will be years of policy delay followed by a last-minute scramble.
Faced with such uncertainties, businesses are doing what you would expect: going elsewhere. Jesse Scott, the head of environment policy at EURELECTRIC, an association of electricity producers, asked European energy utilities which also have an international portfolio where they were expecting to invest over the next few years; 85% replied “outside Europe”.
If policies work as intended, electricity from renewables will gradually take a larger share of overall generation, and Europe will end up with a much greener form of energy. But at the moment, EU energy policy is boosting usage of the most polluting fuel, increasing carbon emissions, damaging the creditworthiness of utilities and diverting investment into energy projects elsewhere. The EU’s climate commissioner, Connie Hedegaard, likes to claim that in energy and emissions Europe is “leading by example”. Uh-oh.

I wonder what the reactions of Green lobby groups and the Green Party are. And how does the ever so progressive government justify this?

36 comments:

RainerS said...

After having had a cursory look, it seems this has not been picked up by German media yet. Until this happens in earnest, I guess there will not be a reaction by Green groups or the government other than possibly trying to shift the blame on industry or the utilities themselves.

A possible Green "solution" to the fact coal appears to be replacing gas would be the reduction of Carbon Credits (maybe until some kind of break-even between the two is achieved), something repeatedely advocated by Ms Hedegaard in 2012. While this might satisfy people solely focussed on CO2 reduction (and the traders, of course), this could only be done within the EU and might not sit well with countries such as Poland.

Also, it would worsen the economic conditions utilities are faced with, further disencourage investments and drive up electricity prices even more.

So, in 2013 we will see more of the same. It´s an election year, after all.

btw, Happy New Year, all!

Mark B. said...

Today's Greens are much like the Communists. They set out to create a worker's paradise, and no amount of evidence to the contrary could convince them they had done otherwise. What matters/mattered to both groups was less the end result than their efforts. This is true of all idealists.

RainerS said...

Today´s "Welt Online" has some 2012 figures:

http://www.welt.de/wirtschaft/article112672815/Energiewende-wirft-den-Klimaschutz-zurueck.html

Werner Krauss said...

Reiner,

did you really think that the Energiewende will be put into practice without any problems? And do you really think that the Greens are responsible for all the emerging contradictions? Your questions in the end suggest this kind of reading. Or did you just want to flatter our skeptical friends and provoke their (in this case: predictable) statements?

I think a close analysis of the Economist article and the assumptions it is based on, might be more challenging and offer a deeper insight into the complexities of the Energiewende.

In my (admittedly superficial) reading, the article is based on a world view which understands economic laws as unchangeable as natural laws; which accepts with fatalism the maneuvers and movements of (energy) capital as a kind of divine fate, and which understands economic growth as a kind of iron law. These are my interpretations, of course, but I am sure I am not altogether wrong here. In short, the article is not just an analysis, but a polemical opinion piece - as the "Uh-oh" in the end makes clear.

An opinion piece deserves a comment, I guess. Thus, it would be really interesting to hear your plan for the implementation of the Energiewende. How to manage the shift from a coal and oil based society to a carbonfree society? Or do you agree with RainerS, Mark B. and "Die Welt" in their ceaseless fight against a green dictatorship and their opinion that a free market will find a solution for the energy problem (again, my interpretation)?

Reiner Grundmann said...

Werner

my question about the Green's position was serious. But no one replied so I did a quick search myself.

Die Grünen seem to be again coal power but the statements are dated. One on their website is from Renate Künast from 2009, the other from Cem Ôzdemir from December 2012
http://www.gruene.de/themen/atomausstieg-energiewende/kohlekraft-als-spielzeug-fuer-merkels-strombosse.html

Greenpeace is also against coal power:
http://www.greenpeace.de/fileadmin/gpd/user_upload/themen/klima/20121204_KohleBroschuere_final_Ansicht.pdf

Responsible for the new coal plants is the government not the Greens. It has decided to exit from nuclear, and to expand renewables. As we know for this strategy to work a backup is needed. The government cannot dictate how energy companies produce electricity, using available sources. This is where economics comes in and the relative prices of gas and coal have led to a shift in the direction of coal. These are the facts reported by the Economist which need addressing. They don't go away if you call them "fatalist beliefs" or "unchangeable natural laws".

You seem to be uncomfortable with these questions. The only instance in your comment that relates to them is the hint that the Energiewende is not without problems. Apart from this you evade the issue, calling the Economist article a polemical opinion piece. I would like to see a less defensive comment from you!

What is the alternative? If nuclear and coal (and oil) are out, only gas seems to be an intermediate source that reduces emissions (compared to coal by 50%). In the current market this would mean subsidies. The government obviously does not think this is an option. They already face compensation claims from the nuclear sector.

Werner Krauss said...

Reiner,

thanks for the quick answer! My intention was to clarify the basis for the discussion, which is as simple as this: without Energiewende, there would be only gas and oil and coal = more emissions. With Energiewende, there is a back-up problem, which I "admit" (and have no easy solution at hand) - reduction of carbon emissions in the long run.

For me, this simple distinction is important to draw a line to some skeptics, who easily jump on the bandwagon and use critical (and just) arguments concerning the Energiewende to sabotage the Energiewende as such.

Furthermore, I still think that a political discussion is as important as the technological discussion. Of course, the government can "dictate how energy companies produce electricity", they do it all the time. It does so all the time - Atomausstieg, Energiewende, subsidies and regulations and so on. It's a power conflict in the double sense of the term "power", and this conflict is permanent.

There is no politically neutral stance concerning energy, I guess. Just remember the wonderful book "Carbon democracy". Of course, our current democracies run on oil, gas, coal and nuclear, as do our images of free markets, economic laws and so on. It is not much discussed yet, but in my opinion the Energiewende necessitates as much a political Wende as one in technology only.

I hope this is not again "too defensive"; I am really interested in lining out the basis for a discussion instead of debating technological details only (which is useful in its right, too, of course).

Werner Krauss said...

Reiner,

thanks for the quick answer! My intention was to clarify the basis for the discussion, which is as simple as this: without Energiewende, there would be only gas and oil and coal = more emissions. With Energiewende, there is a back-up problem, which I "admit" (and have no easy solution at hand) - but there is reduction of carbon emissions in the long run.

For me, this simple distinction is important to draw a line to some skeptics, who easily jump on the bandwagon and use critical (and just) arguments concerning the Energiewende to sabotage the Energiewende as such.

Furthermore, I still think that a political discussion is as important as the technological discussion. Of course, the government can "dictate how energy companies produce electricity", they do it all the time. It does so all the time - Atomausstieg, Energiewende, subsidies and regulations and so on. It's a power conflict in the double sense of the term "power", and this conflict is permanent.

There is no politically neutral stance concerning energy, I guess. Just remember the wonderful book "Carbon democracy". Of course, our current democracies run on oil, gas, coal and nuclear, as do our images of free markets, economic laws and so on. It is not much discussed yet, but in my opinion the Energiewende necessitates as much a political Wende as one in technology only.

I hope this is not again "too defensive"; I am really interested in lining out the basis for a discussion instead of debating technological details only (which is useful in its right, too, of course).

Reiner Grundmann said...

Werner

yes, we need political economy, political technology, and political science. Of course does government set rules and regulations but they are running of options with the energy transformation. Remember: the energy transformation came about because Merkel wanted to pre-empt the Green agenda after Fukushima. So she got out of nuclear energy but was committed to the renewable agenda as well. Compensation for nuclear and paying subsidies for renewables is already costly. It would be prohibitive to add another subsidy, this time for gas.

20 years ago highes wages were blamed for Germany's competitive problems, this could change to energy costs.

There were other options which were not explored when Merkel decided to phase out nuclear energy (because the nuclear exit and the RE agenda seemed no-brainers for Germans). One option would have been to invest in gas extraction. Another would have been to introduce a carbon tax instead of subsidies. Yet another would have been to design a new energy system linking different sources, transmission, and storage. Or a combination. But it was a political gamble where points needed to be scored quickly. It paid off, the Greens and SPD seem on the back foot. Today energy is not a theme which lends them the edge.

But we do have some unintended consequences leading to the paradox that the greenest country invests in the dirtiest form of energy. Good times for lovers of paradoxes ;-)

(Wie du weisst war Heiner Müller ein Katastrophenliebhaber, Luhmann ein Paradoxienliebhaber)

Werner Krauss said...

Reiner,

sure, the government runs out of options; especially THIS government. Which doesn't come as a surprise: the CDU was totally unprepared to implement the Energiewende, and the FDP was not even willing to put it into practice. Thus, I agree that THIS government runs out of options.

By the way, the Green Party did not suffer from this surprising move of Merkel; instead, obviously more people than ever see the Green Party as experts in things "Energiewende" (justified or not, I don't know...). The one who seems to be opted out is the FDP - their reluctance to follow the energy policies of their coalition did not make them very popular.

But it is still a long way to the next elections and maybe even longer to the insight that energy is a democratic problem and not only a technological one.

We still have no triggers (?) to really discuss politically how we want to live; the political view is still dominated by those (fossil fuel driven) fantasies about eternal growth; that people are first and foremost consumers; and that there is something like "free" markets (and thus corrupting the idea of freedom).

Something worth thinking about: how do our ideas and practices of democracy (have to, or will) change when we switch from fossil fuels to renewables....

RainerS said...

@Werner Krauss

New year, old story?

This is really sweet:

"... to sabotage the Energiewende as such."

"Or do you agree with RainerS, Mark B. and "Die Welt" in their ceaseless fight against a green dictatorship..."

Gosh, you found me out! Stupid me, leaving my personalized copy of the "Protocols of the Elders of E.on" on the restaurant table during my last visit to Hamburg. You know, these Eonites and their evil followers are plotting to bankrupt their company in a last-ditch effort to thwart the "Energiewende"!

Fun aside: the Economist article as well the „Die Welt“ piece supply us with a snatshot of "what is". Open-minded persons might find this instructive. Even Keith Kloor picked it up in his latest "Slate" piece. Seems like Anglo-Saxon enviros have retained some of the proverbial common sense of their culture, be it Monbiot´s shift on nuclear after(!) Fukushima, Kloor´s stand on nuclear and GMO or Mark Lynas´ recent change of mind on GMO. Not bound to happen here, though. Boy, are we thorough, we Germans, aren´t we? It´s not sufficient to simply screw up, it has to be done in a well organized manner, and everybody has to like it. So the Energiewende will be defended until the last bullet (payed for by the ordinary citizen).

RainerS said...

@Werner Krauss

„And do you really think that the Greens are responsible for all the emerging contradictions? Your questions in the end suggest this kind of reading. Or did you just want to flatter our skeptical friends and provoke their (in this case: predictable) statements? „

„Emerging contradictions“ is a nice way to put it. Trying to redifine Euphemism? Of course the current gouvernment is to be held accountable. That´s how the game is played. However, the Red-Green and the Black-Red govts in office before are responsible for not providing for caps on the installation of solar and wind in order to synchronize with grid adaption and management, as well as failing to address the still unresolved storage issue. And – surprise – Green groups are to be held responsible as well – by way of over decades creating and sustaining a political climate which resulted in published opinion maintaining it was possible and desirable to bail out of fossile and nuclear energy at the same time. Funny, how our Green Party or Greenpeace never seem to be confronted with the BS the told us yesterday. To check, just ask Ms Künast about her role in mandating biofuels. Not to mention light bulbs. Wouldn´t have killed us to wait a couple of years for an LED-based solution instead of forcing people to use Mercury-riddled devices, while the very same chemical element is outlawed by other over even the same Greens for other applications.

RainerS said...

@Reiner Grundmann
there is a very interesting, albeit indirect, response of one Green group (WWF) to the current situation. Found it while checking the source of the „Die Welt“ piece on the BDEW (German Energy Industry Association). Source for WELT piece is here:
http://bdew.de/internet.nsf/id/20130110-mueller-2013-ist-ein-wichtiges-jahr-fuer-die-energiepolitik-in-deutschland-de
A link leads to: BDEW and WWG are planning to cooperate:
http://bdew.de/internet.nsf/id/65D793F9C998D687C1257AEF0035191F/$file/Nationales%20Forum%20Energiewende.pdf

Are we in for a formidable triangle of Green, State and Industry? Looks like BDEW wants more money (incentives...) while WWF will help to „educate“ the public.

RainerS said...

@Werner Krauss

„Something worth thinking about: how do our ideas and practices of democracy (have to, or will) change when we switch from fossil fuels to renewables.... „

Could you please expand on this?

Anonymous said...

Hello,

I thought this was funny too:

"... to sabotage the Energiewende as such."

Some weeks ago on germam tv somebody asked inconvenient questions to Künast about Biokraftstoffe (bio-fuel).

Will any green or peace ever admit it was their fault?

And I don't know anybody who wants to kill the Energiewende in Europe. What we don't understand is why they don't use nuclear power. Comparing Fukushima to Germany is not very honest.

What we don't understand and what most of the Germans don't understand is why those greens and peaces, politicians and lobbyists never tell the truth.

If you make a mistake, say sorry, if you lied, say sorry. Its very easy. Ehrlich währt am längsten.

Gerade gestern im TV hat man die Beliebtheit des ADAC hinterfragt und er lag weit vor Greenpeace und Grün. Dabei war diese verdammte Ehrlichkeit und Integrität das was und spenden und wählen liess.

Jetzt sind sie fast so schlimm wie die Tea-party.


Yeph

Werner Krauss said...

RainerS #13

This is a long story, of course. In short: our ideas of free markets, mobility, or economic growth are based on the endless availability of fossil fuels. The same is true for the organization of space, infrastructures, lifestyle and the public sphere - we live in a carbon democracy, as a British scholar put it famously.
My question is how the organization of space and our lives changes when we change the form of energy. Maybe reciprocity, community life, sustainability - to name just a few and random terms - will gain importance over growth or profit. I guess there is a close interdependency how we design our lives and environments on the one hand and the form of energy we use on the other. That's the idea, in short.

Werner Krauss said...

RainerS,

thanks for repeating your opinion concerning Energiewende / Die Grünen. I think I got the idea. Thanks.

RainerS said...

@14 Yeph,

I missed the Künast interview. Might be fun to watch. Will check at youtube.

But, to be fair, lying and scheming and evading resonsibility isn´t confined to the Greens. Just look at Peer Steinbrück positioning himself as the Dragon Slayer of Evil Bankers – while it was during his time as a Minister of Finance ill-conceived deregulation enabled the banks to package and sell their toxic products. And I won´t be getting into detailing some Merkel-CDU or some FDP policies which are thoroughly opportunistic or only devised to serve some special interest. The main difference, though, is the Green´s attempt – and successful at that – to claim the moral high ground. Saving the planet, among other important things. And, indeed, they rarely get called out. Which is a pitty, from an entertainment point of view. I expect a whore to be promiscuous, but not a nun. They aren´t nuns, not quite. We could have so much fun if only most of our political journalists wouldn´t be green themselves.

RainerS said...

@15 Werner Krauss,

thank you this brief explanation. Of course you are right contemporary civilization critically depends on the availibility of cheap energy. Rome´s ruling class depended on the energy generated by slave labor, peasants supplied aristocrats with energy and so on. Well, energy needn´t be fossil alone, and if so – provided you are fearing imminent CO2 doom - anything is better than burning coal, isn´t it?
However, looking at your short post, I have the inkling you nurse some romantic notions which are in conflict with current „Green“ agendas (not confined to the party of the same name).
Reciprocity, community life, sustainability – looks nice at first glance. In your post about the Klinenberg article you are talking about a more positive outcome in the quarter having a community life, people knowing each other and interacting etc. Well, I do live in such a quarter – on purpose, for a number of reasons - where our family income is a statistical outlier. I like it here. Self-reliant people of various professions and backgrounds, simple people. They don´t victimize themselves, they get going to achieve something, to reach for a goal. How does this compare to Red-Green patronizing, entitlement schemes? From my POV, today´s self-proclaimed greenized elites are draining the very sources community spirit can arise from.
This may seem unrelated to the Energiewende topic, but it isn´t. The current Zeitgeist calls for interventions in people´s lifestyle, health, food and even entertainment preferences to make the „right choices“, whoever decided which they are. No room for being an individual, productively and compassionetly interacting with other people. Now back to energy. Ever considered the demand side management aspect of our Energiewende (smart meter)? We will become real slaves of the machine. Running the washing machine when power is cheap, checking whether lighting for the kids´ late evening reading is within budget, no TV or radio – or blogging - at times when electricity demand is high. Great background for breeding self-determined members of society. End of energy democracy. The privileged will have time and financial resources for participating in public affairs, and they will be fewer than today. Even now, it is not people working in the private sector dominating online discussions or any kind of activism. Wonder why that is...

RainerS said...

@16 Werner Krauss,

repetition is an important part of learning experiences!
Good to hear you got the idea. Being Green need not be a permanent state of affairs, it´s curable. Personally, I fell from Grace only a few years ago, initiated among other things by an especially brainless Greenpeace anti-GM campaign, prompting me to cancel my sponsorship. Also, it was quite interesting to watch the Greenpeace middle management´s reaction to the then new boss Naidoo´s cautious – and very temporary – stand on GM.
The only aspect I am ashamed of is I was already older than 40 at that time and would have had the capacity to assess facts much earlier. So don´t worry, like all good things, it will come to you when you are ready :-)

RainerS said...

And now back to the topic of this thread:

Acting responsibly with CAGW looming: How to make sure gas prizes will not come done anytime soon

As the HAZ (Hanover/Lower Saxony daily) reports, there is a heated discussion about fracking - State election coming up on Sunday:

http://www.haz.de/Nachrichten/Politik/Niedersachsen/Ums-Fracken-wird-in-Niedersachsen-heftig-gestritten

The national level politics part comes at the very end (last two paragraphs): the Federal Depts. of Environment and Economy fighting over who´s in charge, the UBA (German EPA) warning against fracking, BGR (Federal Agency for Geosciences and Raw Materials) endorses it, attacking UBA´s unclear reasoning and non-objectivity.

Comes the very last sentence:

„Wie hoch der politische Druck ist, zeigen auch die von Grünen und SPD regierten Länder Baden-Württemberg und Nordrhein-Westfalen: Deren Landesgeologen mussten ihre dem Fracking gegenüber positiv eingestellten Stellungnahmen im Dezember zurückziehen.“

Free translation: „Political pressure is high, as evident in the red-green governed States of Baden-Württemberg and Northrhine-Westphalia: Their State Geologists had to withdraw their endorsements (of fracking) in December.

So much for science informing politics under Green rule. You can´t make this up.

Werner Krauss said...

RainerS,

es reicht. Danke.

Anonymous said...

@RainerS

zu Künast:

Ich glaube es war in einem Dritten Programm. Vielleicht aber auch Spiegel-TV. Der Interviewer wollte fragen woher diese Idee des Biosprit überhaupt stammt. Künast hat zuerst gar nicht geantwortet, sondern wurde sogar ziemlich arrogant und frech.

Später hat der Interviewer es dann geschafft bei einer Pressekonferenz zu einem annderen Thema die Frage noch einmal zu stellen. Und da eierte sie genauso rum wie alle Unehrlichen und Lobbyisten.

Vor einigen Jahren zeigte ein Freund mir freudestrahlend eine Arbeit die erklärte dass der Energiebedarf der Menschheit anhand der Biomasse 3 Mal gedeckt werden könnte oder so ähnlich. Heute verstehen wohl viele wieso ich das damals komplett absurd fand.

Ich kann einfach nicht verstehen dass einige Leute so etwas einfach nicht einschätzen können.

Später kam dann der Holzofentrend in Europa auf und weil wir immer ein Kaminfeuer zuhause hatten und viel Freizeit auf Campings verbrachten, bin ich fast auf den Zug aufgesprungen. Ich bin aber heute froh dass ich den Schwachsinn nicht mitgemacht habe.

Die Nachricht hingegen, wieviel nutzbare Sonnenenergie in der Sahara für uns gerntet werden könnte löst offenbar keine Begeisterungsstürme bei den Lobbyisten der Gegenseite aus.

Wobei ich betonen will, dass nicht ICH die Grünen und Gutmenschen hasse; sie hassen mich offenbar.

Künast und Roth sind kaum noch zu erstragen, sogar von der eigenen Basis.

Vielleicht sollte man sich wieder daran erinnern, dass Grün und Greenpeace einmal für Ehrlichkeit, Gerechtigkeit und Offenheit standen. Der Weg zurück geht wohl nur über Denier-beleidigungen etc... bis die Basis Tschüss sagt. Oder auch nicht... ;-)

Yeph

Hans von Storch said...

Two of our participants, RainerS and Yeph were referring to activity of "the" or some greens, such as:

"Ms Künast about her role in mandating biofuels. Not to mention light bulbs. Wouldn´t have killed us to wait a couple of years for an LED-based solution instead of forcing people to use Mercury-riddled devices, while the very same chemical element is outlawed by other over even the same Greens for other applications." (RainerS)

or

"Künast hat zuerst gar nicht geantwortet, sondern wurde sogar ziemlich arrogant und frech.

Später hat der Interviewer es dann geschafft bei einer Pressekonferenz zu einem annderen Thema die Frage noch einmal zu stellen. Und da eierte sie genauso rum wie alle Unehrlichen und Lobbyisten.
" (Yeph)

I know that some people find these assertions rather offending; therefore we may want to ask from Klimazwiebel directly Ms. Künast or another representative of the Greens - but what? If we can raise one or two questions on a concrete case, which ones would these be? And whom could we address this question to?

I expect that we may get some interesting answers, such as: "Yes, we Greens brought the biofuel option into the debate, but we lost the initiative to the agro-lobby, who adopted the concept and transformed it to an industrial (?) money-generating scheme, and pushed for an overly quick decision in these matters, which would have needed a much more careful analysis before implementing it." - Just an unfounded hypothesis of mine, which may illustrate that it may not be too wise to jump prematurely to conclusions and finger pointing?

So, let's be constructive.

RainerS said...

@HvS #23

You said:

I expect that we may get some interesting answers, such as: "Yes, we Greens brought the biofuel option into the debate, but we lost the initiative..."

I agree, this is most likely the type of answer we were going to get. At least this would be one of the answers I would come up with if I was part of the Green´s or GP´s PR team.

And of course there is some truth in this: As soon as light bulb manufacturers realized there were not going to win the fight they just switched sides and grasped the opportunity to sell the high-prized energy saving stuff to a public bereft of an alternative. Made for a good excuse to close down outdated production facilities, too. It always works that way. Mineral wool producers at some point started to support anti-Asbest, gas producers in North America fund anti-coal groups. Nothing new here, decade-old mechanisms at work. If the dichotomy between mighty industry and green David really existed, undertakings like "Energiewende" never would have happened. However, even within one industry sector, interests may be so diverse as to prompt some to cooperate with green groups. And green groups know this and make use of it.

(Among other things, this is why I brought up the planned cooperation of BDEW and WWF in #12. Any speculations what will come if this?)

While the explanation you suggest may satisfy the green-inclined, it fails for a simple reason. In the case of bio-fuels, simple math tells us approx. how much crop land need to diverted to their production. So, if some political group or party lobbies for, votes for and/or implements a mandate on biofuels without doing that math, they are either dangerously stupid or they - as Mark B. suggested - actually don´t care. Either way, no doubt these groups are responsible for the outcomes. Or am I missing something? What makes the biofuel-issue especially sad is the fact some of the outcomes massively impact the very environment greens purport so protect.

RainerS said...

Another "unintended consequence" of the Energiewende.

The official inflation rate for Germany was published last week, see e.g. here:

http://www.welt.de/aktuell/article109760950/Teure-Energie-treibt-Verbraucherpreise.html

Quote: "Energie verteuerte sich nach Berechnungen der Statistiker im September 2012 insgesamt um 7,0 Prozent gegenüber September 2011. Die Preise für Heizöl zogen um 10,4 Prozent an, Kraftstoffe verteuerten sich um 8,9 Prozent. Auch für Fernwärme (plus 8,7 Prozent), Gas (plus 5,3 Prozent) und Strom (plus 3,0 Prozent) mussten Verbraucher tiefer in die Tasche greifen als ein Jahr zuvor."

Look at the price hike for district heating (Fernwärme), which is well above the price increase for natural gas. Why? Well, gas-fired district heating power plants face the same issues as power-only gas-fired plants: lower utilization, lower efficiency, lower revenues for the electrical energy produced. Any volunteers to take the blame for the extra 3.7 percentage points?

As already mentioned on another thread, our local utility will need to set up a huge hot water storage to compensate for Energiewende-induced variable operation of the power plant. Average cost per connected household: approx. 200 Euro just for construction.

RainerS said...

@HvS, #23

"I know that some people find these assertions rather offending; therefore we may want to ask from Klimazwiebel directly Ms. Künast or another representative of the Greens - but what? If we can raise one or two questions on a concrete case, which ones would these be? And whom could we address this question to?"

A very good idea, indeed. As an ordinary citizen, one won´t receive answers worth the time invested to ask for them.

To come up with evasion-proof questions might prove difficult - I personally do not have the resources of a newspaper at hand. The only relevant items I have stored ...someplace...are one Greenpeace brochure on the topic dating from the 00´s and one more recent one (after they´ve taken the turn). Maybe that´s a start, will check, but later - travelling next week.

P.S.: Why is it offensive to ask what made one push a certain policy with potentially knowable side-effects? This happens everyday in politics, in many cases on much weaker grounds.

Anonymous said...

Gutes Neues Jahr allerseits.

Werner Krauss hat hier ein hochinteressantes Thema zur Sprache gebracht. Ich bedaure, dass das Thema im parteipolitischen Gezänk völlig unterging.

Ja, es läuft etwas schief in Europa in Sachen Cap&Trade, und die Lösung wird ebenfalls angesprochen.

Problem: Der Preis für Zertifikate verfällt, es sind zu viele auf dem Markt. Gas verliert Anteile an Kohle.

Lösung: Die Zertifikate werden verknappt, zu Cap&Trade gehört nun mal auch ein Cap.

Die grüne Position mag von Interesse sein, mich würde zuvorderst aber die Einschätzung der Bundesregierung (und nicht einer Oppositonspartei) hören, woran es liegt, dass die Problemlösung auf der langen Bank verblieben ist.

Die Energiewende ist ein rein deutsches Projekt, welches leider viel zu oft mit Klimapolitik verquickt wird, m.E. aber deutsche Klimapolitik behindert und erschwert.

Meine Frage (an ALLE Parteien des Bundestags) wären:

Glaubt man wirklich daran, bis 2050 80% CO2 einsparen zu können alleine mit Hilfe Erneuerbaren Energien, und dies zu ökonomisch vertretbaren Preisen?

Wäre es nicht an der Zeit sich einzugestehen, dass jede Partei gezwungen ist, Kröten zu schlucken?
Ich glaube nicht daran, dass man aus Kernkraft UND Kohle aussteigen kann, notwendige Kröten sind:

Entweder Kohle, dann aber mit dem unpopulären CCS.

Wenn keine Kohle, dann Atom.

Mit günstigem Erdgas aus Fracking könnte man schneller aus der Kohle aussteigen, wenn man CCS nicht mag.


Ich schätze, der Grund für das Interesse an der Position der GRÜNEN rührt daher, dass für diese Partei jede dieser Kröten völlig unakzeptabel ist, dort hätte man wohl die größten Probleme mit diesem Thema. Aber machen wir uns nichts vor: Auch die anderen Parteien scheuen die notwendige Diskussion.

PS:
Mich irritiert die Abneigung (oder trifft es eher schon der Begriff "Hass") mancher Kommentatoren gegen eine bestimmte Partei. Ich finde, die große Stärke der deutschen Diskussion besteht darin, dass man es geschafft hat, die Klimawissenschaft und große Teile der Energiepolitik aus dem parteipolitischen Gezänk herauszuhalten. Auf amerikanische Zustände (Klimawissenschaft und -politik ist eine linke Idee, daher bin ich dagegen) kann ich gerne verzichten.

Viele Grüße
Andreas

Anonymous said...

Off topic:

Bin gerade über einen Text von Ravetz gestoßen:
http://www.postnormaltimes.net/wpblog/ravetz-responds-to-my-last-post/

Ich schätze, ich werde Ravetz Positionen im Leben nicht nachvollziehen können, obwohl ich mich bemüht habe. Ich lese nur (überspitzt gesagt):

Stalin, Hitler, Orwell, Al Gore, Kommunismus und environmentalism sind gravierende Probleme, deshalb zweifle ich den Konsens der Klimaforschung an (Konsens über was, frage ich mich, etwa den Konsens über die Grundprinzipien?) und deshalb ist Tallblokes Talkshop ein tolles Blog (!!).

Andreas

RainerS said...

@Andreas, #27

Auch Ihnen ein gutes Neues Jahr.

Mit weiten Teilen Ihres Posts bin ich mehr als einverstanden, ähnliches habe ich hier auf verschiedenen Threads auch schon vertreten. Die von Ihnen angesprochenen Technology Fixes wie CCS, längerer Weiterbetrieb der KKW oder auch die Nutzung unkonventioneller Gasvorkommen ist nur leider in D auf absehbare Zeit nicht zu machen. Nachdem nun auch in Niedersachsen Rot-Grün regieren wird, hat auch dort Schiefergas kaum eine Chance.

Die „Lösung“ Zertifikatverknappung hatte ich schon in #1 thematisiert. Die logische Konsequenz ist allerdings eine weitere Verteuerung auch der Gasnutzung, mit allen bereits jetzt bekannten Folgen. Ab welcher Zertifikatmenge bzw. welchem -preis eine Parität zwischen Kohle und Gas erreichbar ist, kann ich spontan nicht abschätzen. Sicher sind dann aber auch Kohlekraftwerke in den roten Zahlen.

Insofern stellen Sie auch richtigerweise die zentrale Frage:
„Glaubt man wirklich daran, bis 2050 80% CO2 einsparen zu können alleine mit Hilfe Erneuerbaren Energien, und dies zu ökonomisch vertretbaren Preisen?“

Dass hier alle Parteien gefragt sind, ist klar. Die FDP hat ja für das Frühjahr bereits ein Positionspapier angekündigt (das aus dem alten Jahr gefiel hier ja nicht so sehr). Und dass Herr Grundmann am Ende seines Beitrags seine spezifischere Frage expilizit auch an grüne Gruppen richtet, ist aus meiner Sicht schon sinnvoll, weil hier erstens – wie Sie es ausdrücken – die meisten Kröten zu schlucken wären und zweitens die Kombination aus ungesteuerter Energiewende und Rücknahme der KKW-Laufzeitverlängerung vornehmlich den Vorstellungen der grünen Wählerschaft genügt - und uns eben dieses in Verbindung mit der Merkel´schen „Flexibilität“ zur eigenen Machtsicherung erst in diese Lage gebracht hat.

Dahinter steht eine der zentralen Fragen bei der Bewertung einer bestimmten Politik: ist sie effektiv, hier im Sinne einer signifikanten CO2-Reduktion? Und da verschlechtert die aktuelle Entwicklung die Bilanz doch erheblich. Wobei dies dann auch noch Auswirkungen auf die zweite wichtige Frage hat: wie kosteneffizient ist diese Politik?

P.S. Ich weiß, Sie haben das anders gemeint, aber dennoch: auch mich „Mich irritiert die Abneigung (oder trifft es eher schon der Begriff "Hass") mancher Kommentatoren gegen eine bestimmte Partei.“ Das grenzte mE schon fast an VT. Deswegen auch meine Einsprüche. Wer in der jetzigen Situation mit simplen Schuldzuweisungen operiert, verstellt sich selbst und anderen den Blick auf die systemimmanenten Probleme - und davon gibt es noch weit mehr als hier bislang angesprochen. Ob und wie diese lösbar sind, steht auf einem anderen Blatt. Dabei ist es mir persönlich völlig egal, wer einen guten Vorschlag macht. Im Geschäft prüfe ich auch nicht erst auf weltanschauliche Kongruenz, wenn eine Herausforderung zu meistern ist.

Anonymous said...

@HVS

Sie haben meinen Beitrag einfach gelöscht ohne Kommentar? Oder irre ich mich?

Das finde ich nicht besonders nett. Wie soll ich es ihnen erklären, wenn sie es mir nicht erlauben.

Aber ich bin das ja gewohnt. Sogenannte Skeptiker sind Freiwild. Die Grünen und Co sind unantastbar. So wie ich es schrieb habe ich es im TV erlebt.

Schade, dass so viel Realität zensiert wird.

MfG


Und Tschüss

Hans von Storch said...

Anonymus
1. weiß ich nicht, mit wem ich mich hier auseinandersetze.
2. habe ich in den letzten Wochen nicht einen Beitrag gelöscht,
3. ist mir nicht bekannt, daß andere gelöscht hätten,
4. ist nichts im Spamfilter oder aus anderen Gründen im Moderationsfilter gelandet (z.B. wg Auslauf der Standardzeit von 30 Tagen).

Kurz - für mich unerklärlich. Ist denn der Kommentar überhaupt im Blog aufgetaucht (und dann verschwunden - das wäre das Löschen-Muster), oder nie (das würde dafür sprechen, daß es einen Fehler gab).

Andererseits schätze ich es gar nicht, wenn ich dumm und anonym angepflaumt werde. Das ist doch auch eigentlich nicht nötig, oder?

RainerS said...

@HvS, #23 – Grüner Biosprit

Wie eine Ultrakurzrecherche ergab, wurde die Frage wie Grüne und grüne sich zu Biosprit positionier(t)en in den Medien schon punktuell erörtert.

FAZ-Artikel vom 20.08.2012: http://www.faz.net/aktuell/wirtschaft/wirtschaftspolitik/foerderung-von-e10-die-gruene-wende-beim-biosprit-11862336.html

Zitat: „Schon damals waren alle heute ins Feld geführten Gegenargumente gegen Biokraftstoffe bekannt. Seit den achtziger Jahren hatten Wissenschaftler Schwächen des Biosprits wie den hohen Düngerbedarf, Bodenerosion oder die Konkurrenz mit der Lebensmittelerzeugung benannt.“

Nicht ganz korrekt ist die im Artikel aufgestellte Behauptung, Greenpeace sei immer schon skeptisch bzw. dagegen gewesen. Die beiden freundlicherweise heute noch bei Greenpeace UK verfügbaren Stellungnahmen von 2000 bzw. 2011 legen etwas anderes nahe.

Greenpeace 2000 (before): http://www.greenpeace.org.uk/blog/climate/bio-diesel-green-fuel-we-can-use-today
 
Greenpeace 2011 (after): http://www.greenpeace.org/eu-unit/en/Publications/2011/Biodiesel-tested/

Zufällig kommt das Thema ausgerechnet heute auch bei Andrew Montford zur Sprache (Positionen einst und jetzt von FoE UK):

http://bishophill.squarespace.com/blog/2013/1/22/volte-face.html

Journalistisch gesehen ist das Thema also schon ordentlich abgehangen. Aber vielleicht ist jetzt der eine oder andere Leser weniger „offended?

@ReinerGrundmann said...

There is a very informative coverage on Radio4, Costing the Earth to which I have just been listening. Should be available soon here:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01q8mqh

The BBC reporter visited Feldheim, a village South of Berlin which has become a destination for renewable energy enthusiasts from all over the world.
The programme interviews villagers, visitors, industry people and even a politician. There is much awe in the approach, like "can the Germans really pull this off?"
Worth listening.

@ReinerGrundmann said...

Yes, it's now live.

If you are on Twitter you will see that this programme already has stirred up some of the usual suspects, just follow @reinergrundmann and see how this pans out

@ReinerGrundmann said...

If you have followed the twitter feed you see that I am not in agreement with several types of criticism that have emerged. Being myself sceptical (OMG, that word!) of the Energiewende, I think it deserves to be taken serious and not dismissed out of hand.

One prominent interlocutor on twitter admitted some minutes ago that he "had stopped listening by that point" --but this did not prevent him from commenting.

RainerS said...

Dear Reiner Grundmann,

maybe I am missing the whole point of why you are bringing up this BBC 4 feature in the first place. If so, please correct me and kindly ignore the rest of my post.

I take it for granted British journalists are shocked and awed by German ingenuity :-) And quite daring at that they are - venturing into the East German steppes.

According to Wikipedia, Feldheim/Schwabeck sported 215 inhabitants in 2010. Given an area of 15,7 square kilometers, having installed renewables with a nominal capacity of 140 times the local consumption is not that thrilling. I just checked - in the statistical quarter I am living in, almost 18,000 people share less than 1 sqkm. Which is, of course, on the other end of extremes. Not much room for wind farms here.

In this context, Feldheim claiming energy autarky contains as much truth as assigned "food autarky" to thousands of villages in Germany.

In order to seriously assess the potential of local (renewable) energy supply for achieving autarky, one needed to analyse a much bigger community. And even then, one central question remains. Is there real autarky - without connection to the (national) grid? Autarky meaning: 1) we can do without power imports at any time - and 2) we do not need the grid to dump excessive power in order to make our installed generation capacity economically viable, i.e. paying for installation, capital and operating costs.

As long as the answers to 1) and 2) are "no", these communities in question are nothing more than "grid parasites".

So, even if we assume there are many, many Feldheims, we are just ending up with the overall current situation in Germany: volatile supply, increasing costs, shift to coal and reduced grid reliability (cold reserves where activated today to ensure grid stability due to too much unwanted wind power). Quite possibly, people and investors in Feldheim make a profit, but I am not so sure about the rest of the country.

Greetings from the usual suspect (TM)