09.27.2012 1

Germany turns against the wind on renewables

By Rebekah Rast — The U.S. boasts 48,611 Megawatts (MW) of wind power capacity as of March 2012.

The capacity of the U.S. wind fleet could provide enough electricity to supply 10 million American homes.

The key word in these facts: capacity.  However, the wind doesn’t always blow and these giant turbines rarely, if ever, hit their maximum potential or capacity.

So while the American Wind Energy Association states “on‐shore American wind resource could electrify the nation nearly 10 times over” it is correct.  It could; but it doesn’t and it never will.

Renewable energy sources never reach their full capacity.  Wind energy is expensive; not always productive and requires backup power generators, like power plants, to make up for its lost capacity.

Case in point: Germany.  The country is far ahead of all others in its use of and dependence on renewable energy.  In fact, other countries, including America, put Germany on a pedestal for its bold leap into renewables.  Germany’s wind capacity covers a quarter of its average electricity demand, about 29,000 MW. Yet, actually output is only around 5,000 MW — far from what is needed to cover demand.

The country has discovered that no amount of subsidies can force the wind to blow.  Therefore not only is the country struggling to keep a necessary amount of electricity on the power grid, but as The Telegraph newspaper highlights: “…wildly fluctuating renewable output has to be balanced by input from conventional power stations. … to keep that back-up constantly available can require fossil-fuel power plants to run much of the time very inefficiently and expensively (incidentally chucking out so much more “carbon” than normal that it negates any supposed CO2 savings from the wind).”

But the issues with diving head first into the renewable trend don’t end there for Germany.  Because the country invested hundreds of billions of euros into subsidies for wind and solar power, its citizens have some of the highest electricity bills in Europe.

This huge investment has spelled nothing but trouble for Germany and its economy, which is why some are pushing out of this environmental fantasyland.

The country is in the process of building 16 new coal-fired and 15 new gas-fired power stations by 2020.  Realizing this green utopia is in no way a realistic approach to meet energy demand and is only driving up costs for consumers, Germany’s Environment Minister Peter Altmaier stated wind power expansion had to be scaled back to a “reasonable level.”  This comes after the country has already cut solar feed-in tariffs to rein in solar expansion.

Now that leaders of the U.S. can see how these green energy policies have played out in Germany will they change course and rethink putting tax dollars and American jobs on the line for such a whimsical and unsustainable energy source?

That answer should come by year’s end.  The House and Senate are expected to make a decision on the wind credit after the elections and before they expire at the end of the year in a lame duck session.  The wind energy sector has been subsidized in the U.S. for 20 years.  Some members of Congress want those subsidies to end.

Forty-seven Republican House Members have urged Speaker John Boehner to end the wind tax credit.  A letter sent to the Speaker states, “The Obama administration has poured billions into subsidizing its favored green energy sources.  Twenty years of subsidizing wind is more than enough.”

Bill Wilson, president of Americans for Limited Government (ALG), couldn’t agree more.  “Wind should be free to compete in the marketplace along with other forms of energy,” he said in a recent press release.  “But anyone who argues that it should be subsidized is just breaking wind. If it cannot compete on a cost basis without subsidies and without using the power of government to squash competitors, then it is not viable.”

No matter how much money is thrown into the wind energy sector, it will never be enough.  As Germany has proven, reliable and affordable energy resources like natural gas, nuclear and coal are necessary.

Unlike the wind industry, which will never reach its full capacity, Americans have reached their full capacity of funding Big Government pet projects.

Rebekah Rast is a contributing editor to Americans for Limited Government (ALG) and NetRightDaily.com.  You can follow her on twitter at @RebekahRast.

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