Germany’s Federal Audit Office has released a report that accuses the federal government of having largely failed to manage the German equivalent of New York’s Reforming the Energy Vision (REV). There are warning signs in the report because some of the issues raised are already prominent in the New York energy vision.
Germany’s program, Energiewende or energy transition, is the change from nuclear and fossil fuels to renewable sources of energy. Legislation for the Energiewende passed in 2010 and includes a Greenhouse Gas (GHG) reduction target of 80% by 2050 the similar to REV. The Federal Audit Office review of the program found that costs are high and the targets will likely be missed. “Over the past five years alone, at least 160 billion euros have been spent on the transformation of the energy system,” the report states: “If the costs of energy system transformation continue to rise and its targets continue to be missed, there is a risk of a loss of confidence in the ability of government action.”
In order to implement the transition Germany has had to develop a large bureaucracy to manage the programs and enact 26 laws and 33 regulations. The audit notes that there is “no place where everything comes together, no place that assumes overall responsibility”. This is what is happening in New York. There are over 40 REV initiatives but no single summary.
The audit states:
In short: “A lot of effort does not necessarily mean a lot”. For despite a great frenzy of data collection there is no overall view. “The Federal Ministry of Economics uses 48 different data sources to check the status of the Energiewende on the basis of 72 indicators, and yet “there is a lack of meaningful data that could be relevant for assessment and control”. Many data would have little control value or would be available too late, but often they would “simply draw the wrong conclusions”.
New York’s REV has no status indicators available.
My biggest concern with REV is cost. The German Federal Audit Office report notes: “there are no quantified targets, no measurable indicators” for the energy policy goals of affordability and security of supply. REV also fails to provide that critical evaluation information.
I believe that someday there will be a similar cost-benefit analysis audit of REV with the same results of extraordinary costs and failures to meet the ambitious targets. I predict that the response from New York State will be the same as from the German federal government:
The Federal Government explained its refusal to conduct a transparent cost-benefit analysis of the Energiewende by saying that these costs could only be compared with a “counterfactual scenario”. Because electricity grids and power plants would have had to be renewed even without the Energiewende, only a comparison of a world with and a world without the Energiewende would be meaningful. However, such a comparison could not be made because of the large number of uncertain basic assumptions.