American Elephants

15% of Germans Threatened by Fuel Poverty: How About Us? by The Elephant's Child
June 5, 2012, 6:57 am
Filed under: Politics

The headline reads “Germany Faces Energy Disaster Next Winter” in Die Welt.

Last winter, on several occasions, Germany escaped only just large-scale power outages. Next winter the risk of large blackouts is even greater. The culprit for the looming crisis is the single most important instrument of German energy policy: the “Renewable Energy Law.”

The report from the Federal Network Agency (FNA) on the near blackouts last winter has a dramatic tone, but though the cold spell was short and mild, the situation in the German electricity network was “very serious” according to the Agency.

Germany is a Northern country and doesn’t get all that much sun except in the summer. Russia has plentiful supplies of natural gas, but Mr. Putin in inclined to use their supplies as a weapon to get what he wants. Nobody likes to be blackmailed. Chernobyl wasn’t all that far off, and frightened the Germans. They were really frightened by the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, and the breakdown of the Japanese nuclear plants. Nevermind that Germany is not particularly subject to earthquake, and really doesn’t have to worry about tsunamis. We humans are not always rational.

Chancellor Angela Merkel has ordered German nuclear plants shut down sooner than planned due to German fears of the Japanese nukes. EU energy policies have created an unsustainable, publicly-subsidized market-skewing “green” energy bubble, rejecting a cheap fossil fuel policy and realistic alternatives to Russian gas imports. When times were good, political elites could make a case for high taxes and fashionable renewable fuels, but times have changed. Energy insiders and those who understand the laws of physics have long known that the density of wind and solar is no match for dependable (and cheap) fossil fuels.

In Germany domestic electricity bills are set to double in the next ten years, and German banks have been banned from financing offshore wind farms. 15% of Germans are threatened by fuel poverty. Ten to fifteen percent of Germans are struggling to pay their energy bills. Approximately 600,000 households have their electricity turned off every year because of outstanding bills. The reason is not entirely the promotion of renewable energy as is often claimed, but taxes have gone up sharply: state taxes, VAT, green energy levies, concession fees and electricity taxes. Cold is far more dangerous to life than heat.

Britain, too, is in dire straits with their energy supplies. They have been forced by law to retire many of their conventional power plants, and the romantic dreams of replacing conventional energy with wind and solar has been a fraud.

Why care about the Europeans? Because their coming energy disasters are exactly what the EPA and the Sierra Club and its cohorts are promoting for us. The Sierra Club has already managed to prevent new coal-fired plants from being built and are successfully shutting down hundreds of existing plants, in the illusion that will force us to accept the solar and wind energy that we are reluctant to adopt because it is more expensive. They simply do not get that their green fantasies don’t work.

Winters are getting colder, and we will see how many people die from fuel poverty because of ideologues’ ignorance of physics.

4 Comments so far
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Cold is far more dangerous to life than heat.

Not necessarily in northern Europe, where apartments are designed to retain heat, not shed it. Europe’s August 2003 heat wave is estimated to have precipitated more than 70,000 premature deaths, mainly of elderly urban people insufficiently aware of what was happening to them. (A lot of their younger relatives were at the beach or in the cooler mountains at the time.)


Comment by Subsidy Eye

Yes,I remember. The people who were the caretakers went somewhere to cool off. But the experts say that cold is more dangerous. Germany as insulated well, but that is a problem too, as it’s causing mold and mildew. I took this information from a translation from Die Welt. Elderly British a couple of years ago were buying cheap used books to use as fuel. In Germany, 600,000 have had their power shut off for non-payment.

The Sierra Club is playing a dangerous game here. They’ve pretty much prevented any new coal-fired plants from being built, and shut down way too many. More than 40% of our electricity comes from coal-fired plants, and they are going after the natural gas-fired plants, which accounts for most of the rest of our power. We have a lot of hydro in the Northwest, but not enough to supply all our power needs, and they are trying to tear down dams. Wind and solar cannot supply any significant amount of power, That’s a pipe dream, and both must have 24/7 backup from conventional power to produce anything useful at all. Their efforts will do nothing to decrease the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, and we need more, not less anyway.


Comment by The Elephant's Child

You are perhaps forgetting LIHEAP and its state-level equivalents? A lot more homes in the United States would find their power shut off if it were not for the federal government coming in to subsidize poor households’ fuel debts. Expenditure under the program is several billion dollars a year.

As for mold and mildew, I’m sure it exists in Germany, as it exists in a lot of homes in the United States as well. At least with some of the more modern homes there, Germans are getting both good insulation AND good ventilation. The problems with mold and mildew are with the older housing stock.

Finally, I disagree that solar and wind-power plants will do nothing to decrease the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. People working for me have studied this and it depends on the level of penetration of these intermittent renewable-energy sources on the grid, and what kind of back-up power you have. If you have a lot of hydro-electric power capacity, as does the Nordpool system in northern Europe, you can handle its variable output even up to penetration levels of 20%.

That is a separate question from whether solar PV plants and wind turbines are cost-effective ways to reduce CO2 emissions, which in most temperate areas they are not.


Comment by Subsidy Eye

I’m not referring in this country to people unable to pay their power bills. In Germany that is apparently a problem. Mold and mildew have been complained about in major newspapers in Germany, and in international reports. I haven’t been in any German houses, though I have read that they are better insulated. The record across Britain and Spain in particular is that all their wind farms have not reduced CO2 at all. If you look at records of wind speeds on a minute by minute basis, the intermittency is a huge problem, and not just from a cost-effectiveness basis. My point is that trying to chase down CO2 is a fraud. We are at quite a low point on the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, and should increase it, not try to sequester it. CO2 is NOT the cause of global warming, and does not need to be reduced. IT is now and always has been a phony issue.


Comment by The Elephant's Child

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