Germans Driven by Facts, Not Fear – Deal With It

Why the moral indignation at Germany’s attempt to switch to renewables? When checking into Germany, Craig Morris advises Americans to leave their vituperation at the door. Germans of different political camps speak respectfully with each other and are guided by facts, not ideology – with, he regrets, the exception of Der Spiegel.

Wind Turbines in Field

Der Spiegel might think otherwise, and yet it moves. (Photo by Guerito, CC BY-NC 2.0)

It’s one thing when people who support “drill, baby, drill” call you a socialist. It’s another when authors of books like “Power to the people” call you “Stalinist“; a leftist British newspaper The Guardian calls you a “communard“; Public Citizen calls you “collectivist“; or as recently happened, a post at the Breakthrough Institute calls you “anti-capitalist” and “communist.”

The article published by “the world’s best thinkers on energy & climate” is entitled “Germany and the solar energy revolution,” and (skipping the first bit) that is where the misunderstandings begin. Germany is going renewable with a focus on efficiency, not just solar. - graphic: renewables and grid liability

When natural disasters are removed from the equation, Americans still spent 112 minutes without electricity in 2011, compared to only 16 minutes in Germany.

The author bases most of his information on a report in German weekly Der Spiegel based, in turn, on thoroughly discredited data from German economics institute RWI, which recently drew headlines for publishing a study funded covertly by the Koch brothers – climate change doubters from the US. So the world’s best thinkers on the climate are apparently those who think climate change is a hoax.

Nonetheless, the author of the Breakthrough Institute’s article, Michael Lind, is so impressed by the study from “January 18” that he does not realize the article is a year old – from 2012. Lind says that solar made up “only about three percent” of total power supply in 2011; that figure was 4.6 percent in 2012, roughly 50 percent higher than the figure Lind gives for the previous year.

If he is not familiar with Germany, Mr Lind can be excused for not knowing that Der Spiegel is a reliable source of unreliable analyses of the energy sector. In fact, I rebutted the very article Lind praises only two days after it was published.

Take something as simple as the word “even” in the following passage: “… now even the members of [Chancellor Merkel’s] own staff are calling [solar] a massive money pit.” As I explained in another article last year, the word “even” makes no sense there – the Merkel government consists of the people who have always thought solar was too expensive. You might as well say that “even the Koch brothers now think climate change is a hoax.” - graphic: Renewables in the hands of the people

Lind himself gets the German picture entirely wrong when he writes that “German households… subsidize corporate solar power providers, who… keep the profits while socializing the costs”; apparently, he is not aware that citizens are behind the renewables revolution in Germany, and the money goes back to communities, not corporations, as it does in the US.

We also now know a lot more about Germany allegedly importing “large amounts of electricity generated at nuclear plants in France and Czech Republic” and about the “emergency backup plan” of firing up an oil-fired plant in neighboring Austria. Germany cannot and has not imported more nuclear from abroad, as a study recently showed based on actual data from 2011 and 2012. That study also explains that power is bought and sold based on price, not to prevent power outages.

As German economics daily Handelsblatt (the German equivalent of the Wall Street Journal) points out, the reserve plant in Austria was switched on, paradoxically, at a time when wind power made up more than a third of German power supply. Power prices were extremely low, so neighboring countries were buying what they could get – or, as an expert from Germany’s Institute for Applied Ecology told Handelsblatt, “reserve power plants in Austria are being used to meet demand for exports to Austria.”

So you see, Mr. Lind, things are much worse over here in Germany than even you expect. A mainstream German economics daily uncritically quotes anti-capitalist communards as experts. Under the clever disguise of respectful discourse, solar madmen have apparently taken over most of Germany.


Craig Morris (@PPchef) is co-author of Energy Democracy, the first history of Germany’s Energiewende.

1 Comment

  1. Herman says

    German political parties are not blocking development of Renewable Tech Ventures energy.
    Secondly, the grid needs to be improved and we need to see that.

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