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Is The Energiewende Running Out Of Steam?

August 4, 2017

By Paul Homewood



News from Reuters:




FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Burning coal for power looks set to remain the backbone of Germany’s energy supply for decades yet, an apparent contrast to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ambitions for Europe’s biggest economy to be a role model in tackling climate change.


Merkel is avoiding the sensitive subject of phasing out coal, which could hit tens of thousands of jobs, in the campaign for the Sept. 24 election, in which she hopes to win a fourth term.

Although well over 20 billion euros are spent each year to boost Germany’s green energy sector, coal still accounts for 40 percent of energy generation, down just 10 points from 2000.

To avoid disruption in the power and manufacturing sectors, coal imports and mines must keep running, say industry lobbies, despite the switch to fossil-free energy.

“(Coal) makes a big contribution to German and European energy supply security and this will remain the case for a long time to come,” the chairman of the coal importers’ lobby VDKi, Wolfgang Cieslik told reporters last week.

He also stressed it was crucial for steel manufacturing in Germany, the seventh biggest producer in the world, that use a quarter of the country’s coal imports.

Critics point to the irony in Merkel’s tacit support for coal given that she criticized U.S. President Donald Trump for ditching the Paris climate accord after pledging to voters he would lift environmental rules and revive coal-mining jobs.

“Merkel … has no right to criticize the disastrous climate production policy of U.S. President Trump … figures in this country speak for themselves,” said former Green lawmaker Franz-Josef Fell, referring to Overseas Development Institute (ODI) figures showing the extent of public money going to coal.

Utilities such as RWE, Uniper and EnBW with coal generation on their books fire back by saying their output is covered by them holding carbon emissions rights certificates, while much of their historic profitability has been eroded due to competition from renewables.

Apart from the environmentalist Greens, who want coal generation to end by 2030, none of the main political parties have set phase-out target dates.

Huge vested interests are stifling debate, whether it is potential job losses that alarm powerful unions or the effect on industrial companies relying on a stable power supply.

Industry figures show renewables accounted for 29 percent of power output in both 2015 and 2016, up from 7 percent in 2000. But plants burning imported hard coal still make up 17 percent and brown coal from domestic mines 23 percent of power output.

Cheap coal lets them run at full tilt when necessary while the weather dictates if wind and solar produce anything at all.

Cieslik said he expected hard coal alone to retain a share of 15 percent by 2030.

VDKi warns that nuclear energy, accounting for 14 percent of power, will remove even more of the round-the-clock supply when it is phased out by 2022.

Wind and solar cannot even fill current gaps and a system run mainly on green power would fail to provide guaranteed supply over a winter fortnight, it says.

Power grid operator Amprion has said German networks came close to blackouts during settled and overcast conditions in January when renewable plants produced almost nothing.

Even environmental groups acknowledge the fossil fuel lobbies have a point, arguing there must be remedies to the problem of intermittent renewable supply.

“Old coal plants can be made flexible at a reasonable cost and allow countries with a high share of coal-to-power a soft transition to a climate friendly energy system,” said a study commissioned by Agora thinktank, which backs the energy switch.

Meanwhile the Clean Energy Wire report that German CO2 emissions are likely to rise again this year, following last year’s rise:

Germany’s rising consumption of oil, gas and lignite in the first half of 2017 indicates that the country of the Energiewende will see another increase in emissions in 2017 after a rise in 2016, said Agora Energiewende* head Patrick Graichen. “The data translates to a one-percent increase of energy-related emissions, compared to the same period last year. This corresponds to about 5 million tonnes of CO₂,” Graichen told Clean Energy Wire. New data released by energy market research group AG Energiebilanzen (AGEB) saw energy consumption in Germany increase 0.8 percent in the first half of 2017, due to positive economic development and slightly cooler weather at the beginning of the year. “The hope that 2017 emissions will be below last year’s levels fades visibly. Rather, this is ground for concern that – just like in 2016 – we will see emissions rise in 2017,” said Graichen.


It is easy to blame Merkel’s obsession with getting rid of nuclear. but the reality is that renewable energy is proving itself incapable of filling the gap.

The latest BP Energy Review shows that renewable energy actually fell slightly in 2016, whilst fossil fuel consumption has increased for the last two years.



It is little wonder that Merkel and co are so keen on maintaining imports of Russian gas.

Nuclear power still supplies 6% of Germany’s energy, and it is clear that renewable energy cannot replace this reliable baseload.


Germany has made big strides in getting to a position where renewable energy (excl hydro) now accounts for nearly 12% of total energy consumption. But all the signs suggest that it is becoming increasingly difficult to grow this share further.

  1. HotScot permalink
    August 4, 2017 5:51 pm

    What a surprise.

  2. Joe Public permalink
    August 4, 2017 6:00 pm

    “Nuclear power still supplies 6% of Germany’s energy”

    But 14.7% of its electricity!

  3. tom0mason permalink
    August 4, 2017 6:07 pm

    Really like that picture. Lot of ‘greenhouse gas*’ lofting up and raining down on someone somewhere.

    *no greenhouses are used.

    • Jack Broughton permalink
      August 4, 2017 6:40 pm

      Certainly proves something!!!

    • August 5, 2017 8:00 am

      These images of cooling towers are getting quite boring; for they have now become a must have for all those lazy reporters and editors in any climate publication. By implication they are good examples of false news as most people probably think they are looking at CO2 when in fact they show the basic mechanism by which the planet controls it’s temperature.
      Each kilogramme of steam that you see rises up into the clouds, straight passed any pesky CO2 that might be around with a proportion winding up at the top of the Troposphere as cirrus clouds. Each carries some 680 Kwhrs of energy which gets dissipated before returning to earth as rain, snow or ice. It is in engineering terms called the Rankine Cycle, which is also responsible for keeping our own bodies at a constant temperature by sweating.
      I do so wish that all those scientists would take a look at the steam tables rather than addling their brains with dubious computer models.
      Meanwhile we are stuck with this lazy photogenic falsity addling all our brains.

      • dave permalink
        August 5, 2017 8:44 am

        Those journos that do not think it is CO2, think it is smoke.

        The latest Pew survey of world attitudes is very interesting in as much as it finds that 61% of respondents think that global climate change is a major threat to them. In other words the panic is worsening.

        It is an interesting wrinkle that “climate change” has replaced “global warming” as the automatic meme. The propagandists have successfully tapped into a psychological weak point. Now, any weather-related news item can be spun* as evidence of change; and whereas, formerly, a change had to support warming to be useful to “the cause,” now the public is so confused that they just react with blind fear to each and every pronouncement from “the 97% club.”

        As a contrarian, I would not mind the stupidity of the masses, if only I could find a safe way to short-sell the extraordinary delusion.

        *Or simply stated with vehement conviction.

    • Gerry, England permalink
      August 5, 2017 11:14 pm

      That must be one of the most obviously photoshopped pictures used with an article.

      • Russ Wood permalink
        August 8, 2017 3:14 pm

        Nope! In winter, on South Africa’s Highveld, I’ve seen similar columns of steam rising up from the cooling towers. Especially when you get a very still day, with possibly a temperature inversion. (Really weird when you see a bonfire smoke column going straight up, then mushrooming at the inversion layer!)

  4. August 4, 2017 6:38 pm

    Reblogged this on Climatism and commented:
    “Wind and solar cannot even fill current gaps and a system run mainly on green power would fail to provide guaranteed supply over a winter fortnight, it says.

    Power grid operator Amprion has said German networks came close to blackouts during settled and overcast conditions in January when renewable plants produced almost nothing.

    Even environmental groups acknowledge the fossil fuel lobbies have a point, arguing there must be remedies to the problem of intermittent renewable supply.”

    MEANWHILE, we know “unreliable” energy (wind/solar) is a giant, feel-good con, when ideologically green-aggressive GERMANY has spent €1 Trillion Euros (of other people’s money) on useless Wind and Solar power through the now failed Energiewende program, only to undergo her biggest coal-fired power expansion in history!? (LOL)

  5. Athelstan permalink
    August 4, 2017 6:59 pm

    Hypocrites, liars and crafty bastards fiddling the rest of the world – the Fatherland – whodathunked it?

    We in the Fatherland! want you [Britain to **** yourselves] via the transport of – the solar powered green charabanc, while us ignoble Krauts continue our glorious industrial burning fossil fueled inspired control and dominion – economically speaking – naturally and grind you all into the dust and not content with that of course turn you into a third world dustbin too via open borders, the ECJ and Brussels apparatchiks making the rules.

    Deutschland ist wunderbar – uber alles und fur immer!

    • The Man at the Back permalink
      August 4, 2017 7:58 pm

      Well thanks for spelling that out Athelstan – it isn’t PC here in the UK to state the truth of what you say. Some people in the UK have not worked out yet that they live in the outer reaches of the 4th Reich.

      Don’t get me wrong here, this is not an anti-German comment, far from it, but a statement of reality. The neutured state of the UK is purely our own fault (not helped by being on the winning side of WW2 of course). We are now reduced to calling meccano outfits like Nissan and Toyota, or the bolting together of Danish wind turbine parts UK “manufacturing”.

      Just to rub salt in the wound and to labour my point meccano developed in the UK is now actually made in France.

      • Athelstan permalink
        August 5, 2017 1:50 pm

        I’ve stated before, my argument isn’t with Germans some of whom I know pretty well, my argument is as it always was and with the German machine and duplicity is the way they work, no change since Bismarck took over – well probably before even him.

        It is the naivity and dullard prats in our own administration and not least it’s political ‘leadership’ if that is the correct term to use – the way they swallow the German brod and come out the other side of the sausage machine wrapped in pigs innards ready to be consumed. What happened to our reasoned, seasoned, cynical eye? What has become of Britain leading the world in mind and scholarship but not in green dogma and its shitty moonbeam aids?

        Why do we ask how high to jump when the German ReichsKanzler barks?

        Why are we so ludicrously supine?

        What are we afraid of, a collective twat and twitter storm?

  6. August 4, 2017 7:02 pm

    A lot of “green” energy in Germany is produced by covering vast areas of quality farmland with soil-destroying maize which when harvested is fed into anaerobic digesters.

  7. keith permalink
    August 4, 2017 7:20 pm

    Merkel is nothing short of a liar and a hypocrite and the Germans are basically stupid. In a survey elsewhere they think climate change is a bigger danger than Islam immigration!!!
    This bl***y woman has tried to lead the world with their stupid renewable energy programme while hiding all the coal stations she is building (around 20 I believe) and telling the world it must live on wind and solar. And our even more stupid politicians believe her and want to restrict our standard of living through trying to look big with her. In addition she has turned Europe into a immigrant pit.
    There is no doubt the German man/woman in the street has lost all their senses. Of course, one must remember they are being lied to by their Government and a controlled press.

  8. Curious George permalink
    August 4, 2017 8:24 pm

    I just love that black steam. Photoshop is the greatest invention.

    • Simon Allnutt permalink
      August 5, 2017 2:45 pm

      Not even that, steam being transparent and colourless, black condensation.

  9. Don B permalink
    August 4, 2017 9:11 pm

    New York Times:

    “Over all, 1,600 coal plants are planned or under construction in 62 countries, according to Urgewald’s tally, which uses data from the Global Coal Plant Tracker portal. The new plants would expand the world’s coal-fired power capacity by 43 percent.”

    There is such a disconnect between words and action; by their actions nations demonstrate that want inexpensive electricity which is reliable, such as from coal, and they do not want expensive, unreliable electricity, such as from wind and solar, unless they are Australians.

  10. August 4, 2017 9:17 pm

    Another boost for German and EU CO2 emissions, the dieselgate “fix” to be applied to millions of cars. It seems to be a surprise to many that fuel efficiency will suffer, the MSM are either unaware or keeping stumm, since all EU countries except Poland can do no wrong.

    The so-called “green” media don’t realise that there is a trade-off between CO2 and NOx emissions, reduce one and the other goes up.

  11. Sean permalink
    August 4, 2017 9:54 pm

    No carbon wind and solar replaces no carbon nuclear. Surprise — No significant reduction in carbon emissions. The greens were anti-nuclear before they were anti-coal so first things first.

  12. Geoff Sherrington permalink
    August 5, 2017 4:25 am

    Re cooling tower imagery,
    Artist Pawel Kuczynski also did this one:

    I tell people that they are cooling towers for renewables.


  13. August 5, 2017 7:49 am

    Like everywhere else, the best sites for wind and solar get taken first unless blocked by something or somebody. So expanding renewables in any given country on an industrial scale gets harder as time goes by due to public resistance, lack of good sites and so on.

    Then there’s the obvious fact that more renewables per unit of backup puts more strain on said backup. Sooner or later a crisis point is bound to be reached. Clearly shutting down nuclear power only speeds up that process.

  14. August 5, 2017 8:07 am

    Actions speak louder than words.

    • Athelstan permalink
      August 5, 2017 9:15 am

      indeed, the Germans subsidize their mines, steel mills and it’s all not within the rules [EU] [no don’t laugh it’ll start me off again11]

      Rools and Rules for some but not the rulers! but that’s just it, there are some rules for the mugs [UK] and there are the German diktats and wanton protectionism – but that’s OK – France, Italy and Spain are all at it too!

      • Athelstan permalink
        August 5, 2017 9:22 am

        I’ll have another go;-o((

        indeed, the Germans subsidize their mines, steel mills, shipyards, chemical plant and LO! build new coal fired plant…. and it’s all within the rules [EU] or not………… no don’t laugh it’ll start me off again!

        Rools and Rules for some but not the rulers! And ain’t it? just it, there are some rules for the mugs [UK] and there are the German diktats and wanton protectionism – but that’s OK – France, Italy and Spain are all at it too!

        Why do we (UK) put up with this scheiß, the only answer can be Stockholm syndromem and political stupidity on a quite epic scale of ineptitude, or maybe our establishment hate the guts of us………….a bit of.all three?

  15. Europeanonion permalink
    August 5, 2017 9:28 am

    Germany would often name Britain as the source of unleashing of ‘Acid Rain’ falling onto its territory, associated with the outfall from British power stations. How convenient these arguments seem to run. All too often its the one who gets their blow in first that has the whip hand. I suppose that if Germany’s Eastern neighbours also complain about acid rain the will get short shrift, she will not bow before such demands as would a Government in this country.

    Perhaps the determination in the EU to proscribe certain forms of power production in their constituent countries could be, in part, policy making gone awry. From the ascribing of environmental interference in one sphere (Acid Rain) and finding it getting out of hand as the doomsayers, as is their habit, pile-in in that Puritan way that they have. I see that the article uses Merkel as she is the named stalwart of the green policies. But she is in league with the Greens for government and her ‘stance’ may be merely self-interest and concessions to fantasists. In such ways she, the clever scientist, spreads the cost of her primacy amongst everyone. Clever Merkel. Dumb followers.

  16. Gerry, England permalink
    August 5, 2017 11:22 pm

    The Germans seem to be short of a credible alternative to the Stasi hausfrau. The Americans had to turn to Donald instead of any of the Republican party faithful. We are lumbered with a choice between red, blue or yellow socialists. The French seem to be regretting choosing Macron as his popularity has fallen faster than any other recent new president and he seems to be in the Blair model of style over substance.

  17. Jack Broughton permalink
    August 7, 2017 3:33 pm

    Despite their stupid nuclear policy and the Energiewende costing billions, the Germans have had the sense to generate most of their power from the lowest cost source, i.e. coal. We are the undoubtedly the fools of Europe when it comes to energy “policy”: France may be trying to catch us tho’.

    Norway is the cleverest: buy anyones excess wind for little cost, using their fantastic hydro system, get the UK to buy their floating windmills and move towards electric cars from a position of high electricity surplus.

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