Paul Hockenos of Renewable Energy World had an interesting post recently on who’s really paying for Energiewende (the renewable energy revolution/program in Germany). Paul busts a couple big myths along the way, too.
Here are a few key quotes from the piece, with some commentary from myself:
- “While it is true is that the costs of privileging renewable energy in the overall energy mix is reflected in electricity prices, these costs have been sinking for years as planned, and recently even faster than planned because of the plummeting costs of photovoltaic technology. But while the price of clean energy has been steadily declining, the cost of coal has doubled since 2000 and gas has tripled in price, according to Germany’s Statistical Office. What’s made electricity prices shoot up everywhere in the world are the market prices of gas and coal.” (Emphasis mine.) Shhh, no one’s supposed to know that it’s coal and natural gas now drive up electricity prices in Germany (and elsewhere).
- “It was one of the first moves of the present Merkel government to exempt large-scale industry from those parts of the Renewable Energy Law (EEG) that indirectly tack the costs of renewable energy generation onto the bills of energy consumers.” (In other words, Big Industry is getting off the hook… and for no legitimate reason, as Paul explains further on in that section.)
- “The Prognos Institute found huge differences in the prices that industry, SMEs, and consumers pay for electricity. While the mechanical engineering branch pays 14.75 cents for a kilowatt of electricity in 2011, the steel industry pays only 7.31 cents. Small businesses pay 17.8 cents and private households dish out 25 cents per kilowatt. It’s numbers like this that have associations representing small and medium enterprises up in arms—and their venom isn’t directed at the Energiewende.” Bottom line? Households and small businesses are paying far more than their fair share for electricity. Or, as Paul puts it, “In other words, private consumers and smaller businesses are paying for big industry’s profits.”
- And, one final point for the time being: “One more factor (which I’m going to deal with more extensively at another point): The costs charged by the grid operators have also been climbing and, again, the heavy industries get off much easier than the average guy with a toaster.”
Ah, democracy (controlled by big business) at work….