Germany won’t meet its global warming targets despite spending $200 billion on green energy

By Jason Hopkins

The German government admitted it won’t be reaching its lauded emissions target, an embarrassment for a country that has spent billions in an effort to become an international leader in renewable energy.

Svenja Schulze, Germany’s environment minister, announced Monday that the country will likely fail to reach its goal of reducing carbon emissions by 40 percent by 2020 compared to 1990 levels. Experts predict the rate will be cut by 32 percent at best. Officials are instead moving forward with an emissions target of 55 percent by 2050.

The announcement highlights a fumble for the German government, which has made its citizens shoulder a large financial burden to promote solar and wind technology.

Germany has spent an estimated $200 billion on a sweeping green energy initiative that has spanned over two decades. Energiewende — a German phrase meaning “energy transition” — is the country’s name for its transition away from fossil fuels and toward renewable energy. The plan broadly aims to slash its pollution rate by shutting down coal and nuclear plants in favor of solar, wind and biofuel energy sources. Energiewende has come at great expense to the average German, who has paid an estimated $2,500 to prop up these various programs.

Schulze’s announcement does not come as a surprise to officials who have been monitoring progress. During coalition negotiations in January, Germany’s ruling parties gave up on the idea of a 40 percent reduction by 2020, believing the goal was too unrealistic.

Despite massive investments in renewables, Germany has struggled to reduce its carbon emissions in recent years, highlighting the limitations of wind and solar. The two main sources of renewable energy provide intermittent power when the wind stops blowing or when sun isn’t shining. Germans are still expelling large amounts of energy, which has compounded the issue.

Instead of falling, the country’s emissions rate actually rose in 2016 an 2017.

Germany’s neighbors also appear to be scaling back their climate goals. The European Union announced Thursday a renewable energy target of 32 percent by 2030. The number is shy of the European Parliament’s proposal of 35 percent, prompting environmental groups like Friends of the Earth Europe to call it “inadequate” and “barely above business as usual.”

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Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/Paul Anderson
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2 thoughts on “Germany won’t meet its global warming targets despite spending $200 billion on green energy

  1. Pie in the sky. Wanting it so doesn’t make it happen. I thought they were smarter than that.

  2. The German Renewable energy Act was passed on 2000
    Since that time Germany has spent an average of about $20 BILLION EACH YEAR, a total of $360 billion by end 2018.

    The German electricity sector has had decreasing CO2, but the overall economy has not had decreased CO2 since 2009.

    The nine year stagnation was largely due to continued coal burning and closing nuclear plants.

    Germany is headed for a clear failure to meet its 2020 and 2030 CO2eq reduction targets, according to calculations by the country’s environment ministry. Without further action, Germany’s CO2eq emissions will only be 31.7% to 32.5% below 1990 levels, an internal environment ministry paper seen by the Clean Energy Wire shows.

    Given the official target of reducing CO2eq by 40%, the ministry warns that a failure of this magnitude would constitute a “significant blow to Germany’s climate policy”, and would amount to “a disaster for Germany’s international reputation as a climate leader”.
    http://www.climatechangenews.com/2017/10/11/germany-miss-climate-targets-disastrously-leaked-government-paper/

    Germany Not Reaching CO2eq Goals: Germany’s CO2eq emissions (from all sources) are about the same as in 2009. As part of the Energiewende, Germany is aiming to have:

    – 80% of its electricity from RE by 2050
    – 60% of all primary energy from RE by 2050
    – 80% less CO2eq than in 1990, by 2050

    Germany will not meet its CO2eq reduction targets for 2020, 2030, 2040 and 2050, unless it immediately starts phasing out all coal power plants, which produced 261.5/648.3 = 40.3% of net electricity generation in 2016.

    NOTE: The Energiewende taxes, fees and surcharges on electric bills of German households totaled about 9 x 25 billion euro = 225 billion euro during 9 years (2009 – 2017) and achieved ZERO CO2eq emission reduction. See table 5.

    German Not Reaching Primary Energy Goals: Regarding the consumption of thermal energy for buildings, industry and commerce, and fuels for transportation, there has been so little change that the overall primary energy consumption from RE has increased to 13.1% in 2017.
    See goals in table 6 and URL

    Germany Disconnecting GDP and CO2eq Emissions: Germany’s CO2eq decreased from 1252 MMt in 1990 to 1045 MMt in 2000 mainly due to closing down inefficient plants in East Germany. Germany did mange to have near constant CO2eq for 9 years during which GDP increased 3263/2460 = 32.6%, a remarkable achievement; population increased as well.

    As far a nature is concerned, there was no positive achievement at all, because of the environmental damage, and damage to flora and fauna, caused by the increase in population and GDP.

    Germany’s goals are much less extreme than Vermont’s goal of “90% RE of all primary energy by 2050”.

    It would be less onerous, if Vermont had a goal of “40% RE of all primary energy by 2050”.
    Vermont had 16.5% RE of all primary energy in 2016. See table 3.

    Germany and Denmark, both with high levels of RE electricity generation, charge most of the extra costs to household electric bills by means of various taxes, fees and surcharges. As the result, both have the highest household electric rates in Europe. France, 80% nuclear, has one of the lowest household rates, about 15 c/kWh.

    For Vermont to reach “90% RE of all primary energy by 2050”, the best approach would be to significantly increase purchases of hydro electricity from Hydro Quebec, which is steady, 24/7/365, low-cost (5 – 7 c/kWh, much less than wind and solar), and has very low CO2/kWh (less than wind and solar). Here are some URLs about increased hydro energy from Hydro Quebec.

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