Imagine this: your national and local economies are benefiting from a shift to renewable energy, your air and water are getting cleaner, your electric grid is becoming more democratized, you and your neighbors are benefiting financially from becoming solar power producers, you get to cast of the shackles of guilt that come from burning fossil fuels, and the whole world is looking up to you as the leader you are in stimulating a solar power market and bringing down solar power prices.
Surely, this all makes you want to change course 180° and badmouth the solar policy that got you there, right?
Of course not, but that’s what much of the US believes. That’s what fossil fuel and utility leaders in Germany and elsewhere are saying. That’s what conservative German politicians are saying. That’s what misinformed reporters are saying. But, quite frankly, that isn’t the case.
When you see talk of a “backlash to solar subsidies” in American media (all too common), you never actually see any polls or studies cited, do you? No, you simply receive quotes from conservative politicians, certain heads of the energy industry, sometimes anonymous sources in the energy industry, and professional disinformers.
Whenever I see a comment from an actual citizen, she or he is in full support of the policy that has made Germany a global leader in this arena. But, luckily, I don’t just have random comments to rely on for this article. I’ve got the results of a poll conducted by a major energy association representing 1,800 companies (companies in natural gas, electricity, heating, etc). The poll was focused on Germany’s “Energy Transition” or “Energy Revolution” (Energiewende). About 1,000 citizens were questioned in telephone surveys conducted in January 2011, January 2012, and June 2012. Let’s have a look.
90% of Respondents Said that Energiewende Is “Very Important” or “Important”
The Majority (51–61%) of Respondents Said that Renewable Energy Growth Was “Too Slow,” while Another 30-33% Said It Was “Just Right”
Only 6–10% said it was too fast:
Of Those Who Said It Was Too Slow,…
- 41% said that was due to “Delays Caused by Policy”
- 30% said that was due to “Blockade by Power Companies”
- 20% said that was due to “High Financial Outlay”
- 12% said that was due to “Too Little Funding”
59% of Respondents Said that Energiewende Has More Advantages for Industry in Germany than Disadvantages (Only 15% Said It Had More Disadvantages)
And, from One of German Our Writers, Why Energy Prices Have Risen:
Respondents answered according to the following split:
- 33.6% — corperate greed, monopolies, market failure
- 22.9% — fundamental changes in energy markets (e.g. rising costs for fossil energy sources)
- 7.9% — renewable energy subsidies
So, the next time someone talks to you about the “solar subsidy backlash” in Germany, I think you know how to respond, or where to send them (i.e. to this post).
Thoughts? Feel free to chime in below or connect with me via your favorite social media networks.