onsdag 5. september 2012


Fra Der Spiegel (International Edition) sin serie om den "tyske energi revolusjonen"  (German Energy Revolution):
Germans Cough Up for Solar Subsidies

Solar subsidies cost German consumers billions of dollars a year and are widely regarded as inefficient. Even environmentalists are concerned that Berlin's focus on solar comes at the detriment of other renewables. But the solar industry has a powerful lobby, and politicians have proven powerless to resist.
Germany's new environment minister Peter Altmaier had only been in office a week before he traveled to Bonn for an urgent appointment. Important representatives from the German renewable energy industry were expecting him, including Frank Asbeck, CEO of the Bonn based Solarworld AG. And they were not to be put off. They wanted to know from Altmaier, who assumed his office in May, what was going to happen with solar industry subsidies.

The results of those closed-door negotiations will soon be passed on to the general public via their electricity bills, which are once again about to go up -- even though Germans already pay the second highest energy prices in Europe. Next year, a three-person family will likely have to pay up to an additional €175 ($220) to finance the construction of renewable energy infrastructure.

The biggest culprit behind this increase is the German government's misguided subsidy policy. To the delight of the solar industry, Altmaier has decided to divert the largest share of renewable energy subsidies to photovoltaics, the most expensive renewable energy technology. As a result the solar industry is expecting continued record growth, despite the fact that photovoltaics are also the renewable energy least suited to the German climate.

Altmaier's concessions to the solar industry are all the more baffling given that the German government had announced intentions to cut subsidies significantly, making plans to reduce the construction of photovoltaic systems to a reasonable level. And Altmaier himself, in his previous role as whip for the Christian Democrats in German parliament, warned that subsidies for the solar industry were bringing about "billions in additional costs, every week, every month."

Altmaier's switch to the Environment Ministry would appear to have changed his view of the situation. When Altmaier met with representatives from Germany's federal states last week for final negotiations on an amendment to the country's Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG), there was little talk subsidy cuts.

Ultimately, the lawmakers agreed on a plan that makes considerable concessions to the solar industry, saddling energy consumers with billions in additional costs. The plan calls for funding to install up to 25 additional gigawatts of solar power in the coming years, nearly doubling the current supply. "It's a compromise made at the expense of third parties," says energy expert Holger Krawinkel at the Federation of German Consumer Organizations, "and a disastrous debut for new Environment Minister Peter Altmaier."

Costly Mistake

A new study by Georg Erdmann, professor of energy systems at Berlin's Technical University, reveals just how far Germany's current center-right governing coalition -- made up of Chancellor Angela Merkel's CDU and the business-friendly Free Democrats (FDP) -- has strayed from its own self-imposed goals. Erdmann has calculated the effects that the latest changes to the EEG will have between now and 2030. He believes that subsidies for renewable energy, including an expansion of the power grid, will saddle energy consumers with costs well over €300 billion ($377 billion).

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