Germany’s new energy plan is a bridge to nowhere

by Edgar L. Gärtner

In early September 2010 the German government has presented its draft of the new energy plan . When reading this concept one feels strongly reminded of a common definition of ‘totalitarianism’ stated in Paul Berman’s Terror and liberalism’ : „Mass mobilisation politics for unreachable goals. “, because this plan allegedly sets the direction into a environmentally-friendly, reliable and affordably energy supply, however  is based on poorly functioning techniques and on calculations that don’t add up.
An important way to reach the goal of a reliable and payable power supply is the extension of the operation periods of the 17 remaining German nuclear power plants on in average 12 years, which was decided after hard struggles. Some trade associations showed up more than satisfactory, because this was what they required. Maybe this was also the goal of Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel. The later known „secret treaty“ between the government and the four German power oligopolies, which is to protect the nuclear power station operators against unprofitable technical retrofits and to ensure the government with additional revenues in case of strong electricity tariff increases also points in that direction. In this case one could forget the rest of to so-called energy plan.


But the real issue of the energy plan could be a completely different one. “Renewable energies shall account for the lion’s share in the future energy mix. “ Huge wind turbines on land and high seas shall be the heavy weight in this connection. But also the share of photovoltaic shall increase significantly. The plan includes however only some ideas to decrease the costs of the by far most expensive ‘alternative’ power generation methods. The actual model of the German energy policy is accordingly not the economical and safe supply of energy, but the implementation of the green dream of a heavenly ‘eco-age’. Nuclear energy plays only the role of a ‘bridge technology’. The keyword ‘bridge’ reminds me automatically of an art object on the Documenta fair in Kassel some years ago: A bridge taking you nowhere.
In 2050, wind turbines are to produce half of the required power. The output of offshore wind-power plants is to be developed until 2030 on 25 Gigawatt (billions Watt) through investments in the amount of 75 billion Euros. Such investments are to be secured by national cheap credits and warranties. On land, the wind power capacity is to be extended primarily through „repowering “, i.e. the replacement of existing plants by far bigger ones. For this purpose, building and planning related hurdles protecting landscape aesthetics and rights of real estate owners are to be eliminated. How can the power produced by the projected enormous offshore wind parks be transported to the energy-intensive industries in the south of Germany without asparagurising the last local recreation areas? Why are wind parks considered as developable and promising, although so far they have not make a single conventional power station redundant due to their unsteady function? And not least: Why at all does Germany need a concept for an expensive total change of the power supply? Wasn’t it sufficient to adapt the existing mixes of different sources to the changed market conditions?
The official answer to these questions is: We have to take the burden of all incommodities and contradictions in order to avoid ‘climate-damaging’ CO2 emissions. 40% of the so-called greenhouse gas emissions are to be saved until 2020 (compared with 1990) and 80% until 2050. The Merkel government persists in supporting the fiction that the development of the (not measurable!) average temperature of the earth is connected primarily with the CO2 content of the air. It obviously does not disturb Mrs. Merkel and her Ministers, if the US-American energy specialist Robert Bryce  enumerates that for the bottom line, wind turbines do not help to save a single ton of CO2. Thanks to synchronised and standardised mass media, Germany seems to be the last country in the world, whose political class is obviously not willing to accept that the warnings of a threatening ‘climatic disaster’ have lost their scientific basis since the scandalous disclosure of data manipulations in the periphery of Intergovernmental Panel of Climate IPCC.
Climate – whatever this is anyway – is only a superficial aspect of the German energy concept. It is easy to show that in reality the conceptions of such groupings who twenty years after the collapse of the Eastern Bloc still believe in the superiority of the planned economy are to be converted. Primary energy consumption in Germany is to be reduced by 20% until 2020 and by 50% until 2050 in comparison with 2008. This requires an annual increase of the energy productivity from on average one to two and a half per cent. Such growth rates have not even existed during the German „economic miracle“ in the Fifties. Energy specialists hardly consider annual productivity increases over one per cent feasible. Unresolved is also the problem of power storage for bypassing longer wind calm times. The authors of the energy concept are supposed to have said: This does not matter, may the authors have thought. One must only firmly believe in imminent technical breakthroughs in the field of electricity storage.
Residential buildings, totalising 40 percent of the national power demand, offer the greatest potential for energy saving. Three quarters of the 17 million buildings were built before the promulgation of first thermal insulation regulations in 1979, state the authors of the energy concept. In order to approach the political target of an almost „carbon neutral“ building sector until 2050, the rate of building renovation must be doubled from annually one to two per cent. However, this is easier said than done. The thermal insulation of a single house for one or two families in accordance with the applicable German energy saving regulation (EnEV) can devour easily over 100,000 Euros. The energy saving investments however could generate benefits only after 20 to 50 years. No private entrepreneur would voluntarily do such an investment. Such default is especially unacceptable for older house-owners in rural areas who for demographical reasons already today have a remote perspective with respect to a potential sale or further usage of their houses and the resulting limited creditworthiness. The Maastricht Treaty of the European Union stipulates that investments which do not pay cannot be mandatory. Well aware of this, the Merkel government recently proposed house demolishion awards instead of coercive
This won’t prevent fanatical „climatic rescuers“ from imposing sanctions up to the expropriation without compensation on the basis of the contemplated ‘comprehensive renovation obligation’ in order to meet their ‘zero emission’ goal, in other words: the void.
Especially the construction of ‘power motorways’ between the existing and scheduled wind power plants in Northern Germany and large industrial power consumers in the Southern part of the country will result in significant conflicts with private property rights. The complete German power grid has to be converted and expanded at billion-expenditure, to be able to adjust the very irregular power feed by wind and solar parks. In order to achieve the “climate policy“ defaults and/or to adapt the energy consumption to the naturally strongly varying offer of „renewable“ energies, the behaviour of the energy consumers shall be controlled by means of „smart“ power grids and electric meters.
If these constructivist plans did not fail because of citizens’ protests, Germany would become a socialist scarecrows republic whose authority dictated energy saving as fundamental life goal and whose impoverished subjects starve under unbearable energy prices and social contributions. Pursuing “old-fashioned” values such as privacy and freedom would be merciless punished by the Truth Ministry.

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About the Author: Edgar Gaertner