Despite Europe’s boom in solar and wind energy, CO2 emissions haven’t been reduced by even a single gram. Now, even the Green Party is taking a new look at the issue — as shown in e-mails obtained by SPIEGEL ONLINE.
Germany’s renewable energy companies are a tremendous success story. Roughly 15 percent of the country’s electricity comes from solar, wind or biomass facilities, almost 250,000 jobs have been created and the net worth of the business is €35 billion per year.
But there’s a catch: The climate hasn’t in fact profited from these developments. As astonishing as it may sound, the new wind turbines and solar cells haven’t prohibited the emission of even a single gram of CO2.
Experts have known about this situation for some time, but it still isn’t widely known to the public. Even Germany’s government officials mention it only under their breath. No one wants to discuss the political ramifications.
It’s a sensitive subject: Germany is recognized worldwide as a leader in all things related to renewable energy. The environmental energy sector doesn’t want this image to be tarnished. Under no circumstances does Berlin want the Renewable Energy Law (EEG) — which mandates the prices at which energy companies have to buy green power — to fall into disrepute.
In truth, however, even the Green Party has recognized the problem, as evidenced by an e-mail exchange last year between party energy experts and obtained by SPIEGEL ONLINE. One wrote the following message to a colleague: “Dear Daniel, sorry, but the EEG won’t do anything for the climate anyway.” Ever since the introduction of the emissions trading system, the Renewable Energy Law had become “an instrument of structural change, but not an instrument to combat climate change.”
Indeed, when it comes to climage change, investments in wind and solar energy are not very efficient. Preventing one ton of CO2 emissions requires a relatively large amount of money. Other measures, especially building renovations, cost much less — and have the same effect.
The e-mail exchange ends with a conciliatory “What do you think?” But it is quickly followed by a bitter PS: “Do the Greens think that this problem (of climate change) will solve itself if we just screw solar panels onto our rooftops?”
The article doesn’t mention it, but energy and electricity prices in Europe are considerably higher than those in the United States. So, Europe agrees to the Kyoto Protocol, mandates that large amounts of their energy supplies come from renewables, and the result is higher prices for producers and consumers and no benefit to the climate. Unfortunately, this is exactly where the U.S. is headed, if the Obama administration’s energy plans are realized. If we turn our backs on coal power, refuse to ramp up nuclear power, and mandate “green” energies before they are proven, commercially viable technolgies, the days of relatively affordable (and reliable) energy and electricity are numbered.