Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act Lesson from the German Energiewende

The German Energiewende (“energy transition”) is often touted as an example for the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA).  I agree but, as explained in a recent article Daniel Wetzel at German national daily Die Welt, the attempt to transition to green energy has shown that there are significant problems using today’s technology.

I have summarized the schedule, implementation components, and provide links to the legislation itself at CLCPA Summary Implementation Requirements.  I have written extensively in posts on implementation of the CLCPA because I  believe it will adversely affect affordability and reliability as well as create more environmental harm than good which affects my future as a New Yorker.  I have described the law in general, evaluated its feasibility, estimated costs, described supporting regulations, listed the scoping plan strategies, summarized some of the meetings and complained that its advocates constantly confuse weather and climate.  The opinions expressed in this post do not reflect the position of any of my previous employers or any other company I have been associated with, these comments are mine alone.

According to Clean Energy Wire’s guide to the Energiewende, “Germany’s experience offers valuable insights and can serve as an example on how to wean a major economy off fossil fuels, even for countries with their own unique conditions and challenges”.   However, a German Government Audit report warns that the Energiewende is causing higher costs, and that there is a real danger of electricity shortfalls.  Pierre Goslin summarizes the report in “Explosive” German Government Audit Report: “Energiewende” Has Become “A Danger to all Germany”.

Goslin reports:

The “Energiewende” (transition to green energies) has seen Germany recklessly rush into wildly fluctuating wind and solar energy without properly planning the grave impacts they would have on the power supply grid and prices.

The German auditors had already voiced harsh criticism three years earlier in another special report, whose main focus had been on the high cost of the Energiewende. The latest report now also includes “an explosive analysis” on power supply instability and the high probability of power shortfalls.

The report finds that not only have the costs spiraled out of control, but that the German federal government “does not have a sufficient view of the emerging, real dangers to the security of supply” and that “ever higher electricity prices” are to be feared in the current system.

German electricity are among the highest in the world, and there is still no end in sight for the cost spiral. One study found that another whopping 525 billon euros will be needed by 2025 to upgrade the power grid, according to Die Welt.

The development of green energies in Germany has gotten so bad that the Federal Audit Office sees the risk the Energiewende could “endanger Germany as a business location and overburden the financial sustainability of electricity-consuming companies and private households.”  “This can then ultimately jeopardize the social acceptance of the energy transition,” warned Scheller.

Die Welt characterizes the Government Audit report as “explosive” and a long overdue wake-up call. The auditors accuse the federal government of not having properly taken into account the consequences of the coal phase-out, making assumptions that seem “unrealistic or are outdated by current political and economic developments” and making overly optimistic assumptions on the future available wind and sun.

Advocates for the CLCPA believe that wind and solar provide an economic way to transition off fossil fuels.  David Wojick recently published an article that succinctly explains why that approach why one factor makes that a false assumption: the Minimum Backup Requirement (MBR).  Wojick explains that “The minimum backup requirement is how much generating capacity a system must have if it is to reliably produce the electricity we need when wind and solar don’t.”  I have written about this issue but was unable to simply describe it this well.

Michel at the Trust, yet Verify blog evaluated the potential effect of increased electricity production from intermittent energy sources in a post using a simple solar and wind capacity increase data analysis model and found that in Belgium in enormous amounts of over-building are required to cover periods with low wind and solar.  With help from Michel we did a similar analysis for New York and I found that even with unrealistic assumptions about the “best case” availability of solar and wind capacity, there are periods with significant deficits. In order to prove the extraordinary claim that solar and wind can replace existing fossil the State of New York, a similar type of analysis using actual data to estimate realistic energy production must be done. That is the only way to provide the extraordinary proof showing just how much energy storage will be required to prevent deficits.

Conclusion

The Government Audit report accuses the federal government of making assumptions that seem “unrealistic or are outdated by current political and economic developments” and making overly optimistic assumptions on the future availability of wind and sun available.  The draft plans for the CLCPA are going down that same path.  I believe the German results will also occur in New York.

Author: rogercaiazza

I am a meteorologist (BS and MS degrees), was certified as a consulting meteorologist and have worked in the air quality industry for over 40 years. I author two blogs. Environmental staff in any industry have to be pragmatic balancing risks and benefits and (https://pragmaticenvironmentalistofnewyork.blog/) reflects that outlook. The second blog addresses the New York State Reforming the Energy Vision initiative (https://reformingtheenergyvisioninconvenienttruths.wordpress.com). Any of my comments on the web or posts on my blogs are my opinion only. In no way do they reflect the position of any of my past employers or any company I was associated with.

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