Author: L. Michael Buchsbaum


L. Michael Buchsbaum

L. Michael Buchsbaum is an energy and mining journalist and industrial photographer based in Germany. Since the mid-1990s, he has covered the social, environmental, economic and political impacts of the transition from fossil fuels towards renewables for dozens of industry magazines, journals, institutions and corporate clients. Born in the U.S., he emigrated to Germany and Europe to better document the Energiewende.

Wind energy is starting to spill off the shore of Trump’s America

Although Trump keeps pushing lumps of coal and tankers full of freedom gas down the world’s collective throats, his industry-friendly administration hasn’t prevented America’s coal industry from dying or its fracking companies from losing piles of money. Nor has he stopped wind from gaining even more traction. After setting growth records last year, another breakthrough is forecast for 2020 as investors pour resources into new waters: offshore wind energy. But fearing its tremendous potential energy capacity, Trump’s minions are ramping up efforts to hold it back. As election fever grips the nation, L. Michael Buchsbaum looks at the state of offshore wind in Part 3 of his series on America’s energy transition.

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RWE: Embracing renewables worldwide, while clinging to coal in Germany

After swallowing up many assets of former rival E.ON and daughter company Innogy in a reconfiguration of both the European and global energy sectors, the new RWE has pledged to become carbon neutral by 2040. Long Europe’s worst polluter and a steadfast opponent of the clean energy transition, it’s working hard to rebrand itself as a green innovator. However, as it plans to annually invest 1.5 billion euros in new wind, solar photovoltaic and storage, RWE is mainly focusing outside of its German backyard where it continues to generate the filthiest energy in the world, cynically profiting off the rapidly slowing Energiewende. Michael Buchsbaum explains the new RWE.

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Bernie vs the billionaires: Is there another choice for the climate?

As the race to decide this year’s Democratic U.S. Presidential candidate barrels towards the heart of the nation’s long and confusing primary season, it’s becoming a contest between progressive Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren on the left; former New York Mayor, recent Republican, and billionaire businessman, Mike Bloomberg on the right; and the two middle-of-the-road party favorites former Vice President Joe Biden and Minnesota Senator Klobuchar fighting for attention in the narrowing center. But as environmental voters really start feeling Sanders, the party establishment is pushing back. L. Michael Buchsbaum takes us there.

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The greening of Trump’s America. Part II

Despite President Trump pulling out all the stops to prevent America’s coal industry from dying, renewables are rapidly overtaking its share of the U.S. electricity generation mix—and even cutting into fossil gas’ expansion. Since it’s clearly not America’s relaxed federal regulations pushing the toxic-gas belchers into the dustbins of history, what’s driving the green train? The rapidly maturing economics of clean energy, L. Michael Buchsbaum explains in part 2 of his series on America’s energy transition.

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Dying King: Trump fails to stop coal’s fall. Part I

Despite Trump proudly rolling back at least 85 environmental rules to prop it up, America is mining and burning less coal today than it has in over four decades. Since the 2016 election, 27% of the entire coal-fired power fleet has retired—with many more closures expected. As the King dies, two questions remain: what will take its place? And who will clean up the industry’s mess? L. Michael Buchsbaum explores these questions and more in the first of a series treating America’s Energy Transition.

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Fracking chaos: As debt-ridden gas producers go bankrupt, who’ll be left to clean up their mess?

Though fracking enabled the U.S. to finally re-achieve the long held conservative dream of energy independence, the ever-increasing volume of fracked fossil gas flowing out of the U.S., has led to an international glut as prices continue to fall. Now neck-deep in debt and historically unprofitable, pure play gas frackers are starting to struggle. Mass bankruptcies, shut-ins, and layoffs are likely. But Trump’s evisceration of environmental protection laws combined with ludicrously low liability bonds virtually ensures the public will be stuck with the clean up bill. Michael Buchsbaum explains.

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German wind and renewables overpower filthy lignite and hard coal in 2019

Preliminary figures conclusively reveal that renewables produced over 40 percent of Germany’s electricity in 2019. Combined with offshore production, wind energy overtook both filthy lignite and hard coal, and has now become the nation’s largest energy source. But as fossil gas prices fall and the ruling government’s fragile coalition stumbles its way through the Energiewende it created, 2020 will likely prove a make or break year for the clean energy transition. Only the future will reveal if 2019 will actually be remembered as the year renewables really powered past coal in Germany. L. Michael Buchsbaum explains.

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Wind-wreck: Germany’s Grand Coalition derails the turbine train

While ostensibly trying to craft policy that both transforms Germany’s energy sector to 65% renewables by 2035 and protects the security of Germany’s 20,000 coal workers, the Grand Coalition Government’s halting energy policies have just cost the jobs of over 30,000 workers through the wind sector. Facing the worst domestic slowdown in 20 years, manufacturers spent much of 2019 hemorrhaging jobs, going bankrupt or heading into reconstruction. As 2020 begins, L. Michael Buchsbaum brings us up to date.

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Irrational thinking: Merkel’s government stunningly green-lights new coal-fired power plant

Despite all their rhetoric, Angela Merkel’s Grand Coalition government is clearly not all that interested in really powering past coal. The latest evidence is its decision to allow the Uniper-owned 1,200 MW hard coal-fired power plant, Datteln 4, to come online in 2020 — against the recommendations of the Coal Commission. As the government embarks on a bizarre sales campaign peddling the idea that Datteln’s advanced technology will somehow help improve the climate, activists are organizing a protest wave that will dwarf previous actions around the embattled Hambach Forest. Michael Buchsbaum reviews the situation.

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New English edition of Plastic Atlas spotlights humanity’s toxic addiction

Published jointly by Break Free From Plastic, the Heinrich Böll Foundation, and the German Association for the Environment and Nature (BUND), the new report portrays a startling window into the toxic deluge fouling our planet. In just 60 years over 8.3 billion tons of petroleum-based plastics have been produced worldwide – more than one ton per person living on earth today. But only 10% has been recycled. As new production rates are accelerated by cheap fracked gas, the only solution is to drastically reduce our dependency. Buchsbaum reviews the Atlas’ findings.

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