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Germany’s Drive For Wind In Trouble

April 21, 2019

By Paul Homewood



Standing beside a windswept junction near Germany’s Baltic coast, Thea Funk points at a stretch of land to the north.

“They want to build 12 turbines up there, each one 240 metres high. And down there there are plans to put up more, somewhere between six and eight,” she explains, gesturing to a field across the road. “We’re going to be encircled.”

Behind her, 30-odd people line the road holding signs bearing anti-wind energy slogans. Residents of the Friedland Moor in northeast Germany, they are convinced their landscape is about to be destroyed for the gain of landowners and energy magnets.

Rural protests against wind farms are increasing in Germany and the effect has been dramatic on the country’s flagship green energy programme. Energiewende, one of the most ambitious state-led policies in the world, is now stalling, with key targets disappearing into the wind.

Last year new wind farm projects plummeted by 55 percent as energy companies baulked at the growing number of legal complaints made by restive locals and wildlife funds.

Protesters have been gathering every week

Protesters have been gathering every week Credit: Craig Stennett 

Even without the slowdown in wind energy, Germany is certain to miss its target of a 40 per cent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by the end of the decade. Despite an estimated half a trillion euros spent to date on cutting dependency on fossil fuels, the country’s carbon dioxide emissions have in fact gone up.

And with the last nuclear power stations set to be retired by 2022, even more of the heavy lifting of producing clean energy will soon fall on the shoulders of the renewable sector.

For the Greens, who are currently polling second nationwide, the problems afflicting with the energy transition are manageable. They accuse Berlin of strangling the renewable sector in red tape while exempting big business from paying its fair share of the costs. Under their ambitious plans, all electricity would be produced from renewable sources by 2030 and heating would follow suit ten years later.

But more renewable energy necessarily means more turbines. And whether there is enough political good will left in rural communities for these to be built is open to question.

Signs of opposition to wind Turbines up in the German village of Ferdinandshof

Signs of opposition to wind Turbines up in the German village of Ferdinandshof Credit: Craig Stennett

Mecklenburg-Pomerania, the state where the Friedland Moor project is planned, passed legislation three years ago which compelled wind energy companies to offer people who live nearby a 20 per cent stake in profits.

The law has so far been a flop, with no community taking it up. For Ms Funk, the organiser of the Friedland Moor protest, there is no chance her community could be tempted. “We can’t be bought,” she says, flatly.

Concerns at the protest run far deeper than money.

Gerbatsch Volker, an 83-year-old former vet, fears the turbines’ foundations will contaminate his drinking water. Meanwhile the moor’s bird life will be “shredded”, he says, and all for the gain of “big time investors from the west [of Germany] who came in and bought up the land for peanuts in the 1990s.”

Another protester, Rene Sternke, says that the far-right Alternative for Germany, are using the issue to win votes. The major parties pay lip service to community consultation, he says. Only the AfD are unequivocally on their side.

Protesters are concerned about the impact on wildlife

Protesters are concerned about the impact on wildlife Credit: Craig Stennett

“The rest of the world is laughing at us,” Ms Funk is convinced. “The whole Energiewende has been carried out back to front.”

The slump in the wind energy sector will drive the final nail into the coffin of German greenhouse gas reduction targets, a factor fuelling the remarkable rise in popularity of the opposition Green party over the past half year.

Anti-wind protesters have been helped by a 2017 change in law which gave energy companies two years to finish a wind project or face having their planning permit annulled.

The legal change was part of wider reforms intended to add competition into the heavily subsidized renewables sector and bring down electricity prices. But rather than making the planning process more efficient, it encouraged communities to use every means at their disposal to delay it over the time limit.

Hermann Albers, head of the BWE, Germany’s major wind lobby, complains that wind’s opponents are “creatively using the legal means on offer to block new projects.”

Industry experts now say that planning applications take up to 800 days, over double the average time from three years ago.

“This is becoming an ever more critical problem for the Energiewende,” warns Albers, referring to the name given to Germany’s state-led transition to renewables.

But wind is just one misfiring piston in an engine being built while the vehicle is already in full motion.

The power lines needed to transport electricity from the windy north to the industrial south are still stuck in the planning stage as locals protest against pylons. The projected costs of €52 billion are certain to go up as the government seeks a breakthrough by putting the cables underground.

The lack of storage capabilities is another expensive problem. Germany’s turbines are regularly shut down during high winds as the power is neither needed on the grid nor can be stored for use at a later point. Annual compensation paid to energy companies for this lost electricity totals over a billion euros.

Fixed prices paid to renewable energy suppliers, compensation paid for unused turbines and fees taken by the national grid for building new power lines all mean Germans now pay the highest electricity bills in Europe.

Across Europe, wind energy hit the doldrums in 2018. New projects sunk by a third as several countries introduced auction systems to try and wean the renewable sector off state aid. Nowhere else was the drop as sizeable as in Germany though, whose share of new wind production plunged 10 per cent to 29 per cent.

Ms Sternke seems quietly confident that the Friedland Moor project won’t see the light of day.

“If it gets planning permission, we’ll take legal action,” she says with a wry smile. Under the new regulatory system, wind energy companies know only too well what that could mean.

  1. Peter Plail permalink
    April 21, 2019 8:29 pm

    It has always amused me that Germany decided to shut its nuclear program down over safety concerns following the Fukushima tsunami issue. There always seemed a massive disconnect between tsunami risk in Japan (let’s face it, not the most geologically stable location) and similar events in Germany. But then logic is not what you come to expect from environmentalists and their governmental poodles.

    • paul weldon permalink
      April 22, 2019 7:54 am

      Peter, I lived and worked in Germany from 1993-2005, and have some understanding of what makes the Germans tick. You will never understand the motives behind their decisions because you are a Brit (I presume) and think like a Brit. Although there are many similarities between the two races, there are also subtle differences. In the demonstrations I detect an underlying conflict between East and West, and city versus countryside. Whereas in the UK the anti-nuclear stance has all but disappeared, it is still deep in the German psyche. One of the initial reasons for the Energiewende was the need to replace nuclear after the Japan tsunami became the icing on the cake to push out nuclear. No one in the UK seems to have picked up on this.

      • dave permalink
        April 22, 2019 7:23 pm

        “…need to replace nuclear…”

        You mean, IRRATIONAL desire to replace nuclear. It is not only in Germany. A while ago, I was in France and being shown into a rental place by an apparently normal, middle-class, French woman. She looked out over the valley of the Rhone to the Tricastin nuclear power station, emitting its normal puffs of water, and apologized for the presence of the evil monster.

        The French only built half of their originally planned stations.

      • paul weldon permalink
        April 23, 2019 9:18 am

        Dave, desire to replace nuclear is perhaps more correct, but for the populace it was a rational (though illogical) decision. The governments response was entirely rational, they agreed to do this on the condition that this would not affect electricity supply. It was aso politically correct, as it enabled them to increase coal production from the depressed Rhur district and wind/solar to keep the greens happy. Did you ask your French host whether she would have the same response if there was a wind turbine complex in view? The answer would have been of interest!

  2. Peter Plail permalink
    April 21, 2019 8:34 pm

    And I look forward to the environmentalist response in a decade or so when the failure rate of the windmills reaches levels where they become uneconomical, and the operators businesses fail, leaving a landscape littered with dead windmills whose demolition the taxpayer will be expected to underwrite.
    But of course they won’t be bothered, because they will be pursuing yet another unicorn.

  3. keith permalink
    April 21, 2019 8:38 pm

    Useful to look at a recent post on Notrickszone. It looks like in a few years Germany will be in permanent blackout when they close their coal and nuclear plants.

  4. April 21, 2019 9:05 pm

    @Jamspid mentioned Julie Birchill. article
    \\Tomorrow is “Earth Day” – but after the Extinction Rebellion shenanigans this week,
    I would imagine that a good many harassed travellers feel like telling the Earth to stick it where the Sun doesn’t shine.
    It makes sense that these narcissists in activists clothing would have picked a workers’ Bank Holiday for their antics
    – I wonder how many of them have jobs?
    It’s always been the privileged who’ve gone gaga for green issues;
    they’re friends of the Earth because it’s been such a good friend to them. //
    .. I can see it with my free account

    • Peter Plail permalink
      April 21, 2019 9:56 pm

      I have heard it suggested that many of them are teaching staff and that the staff rooms are where a lot of the planning is done. Lets see how the numbers drop on Tuesday when the new term starts.

    • April 22, 2019 11:43 am

      The first “earth day” was in 1970. It was “begun” by a group of political activists in California (where else)and backed by pieces of the United Nations and others of the usual Marxist suspect pool. One of the unique features of it has been mountains of garbage created and left strewn about by those attending the earth day festivities.

      It would seem as though San Francisco is on the path to a perpetual earth day with the garbage and other matter strewn about.

      The moral of the story……be it earth day or San Francisco, when the left runs it all you are left with is garbage.

  5. markl permalink
    April 21, 2019 9:29 pm

    Reality strikes again. Germany has already reached the point of diminishing returns with wind and solar and their CO2 emissions continue to rise. They’ve made a dent in their energy needs with ‘renewables’ and they believe they are making headway against their “no carbon” goal. The world is adding to its’ fossil fuel usage faster than it’s cutting it back. Doesn’t look good for a no carbon future, does it 🙂

  6. roger permalink
    April 21, 2019 10:25 pm

    Yet this is the nation that rules the EU and every year tightens it’s authoritarian grip on the rest.
    Their politicians appear to be as stupid as ours, but since that is an impossibility what kind of trap is May and her traitorous crew leading us into.?
    God help us all.

  7. I_am_not_a_robot permalink
    April 22, 2019 7:27 am

    “… the whole Energiewende has been carried out back to front ….”.
    Food storage was a vital component in the Neolithic, archeological evidence from Jordan suggests that purpose-built granaries with suspended floors preceded the emergence of large scale domestication of wild cereals by 1000 years.
    Energiewende is merely an extreme example of the ‘renewable energy’ fallacy aka putting the cart before the horse.

  8. April 22, 2019 10:33 am

    “ambitious” my arse. Great to see the weapons of “environmentalists” (exploiting planning laws) being deployed against them, get those crested newt sightings in.

    In case anyone hasn’t yet noticed we are in a civil war, a “green” zombie uprising, in which the MSM are now blaming everything on Climate Change, and that recent BBC memo has unleashed full propaganda mode.

  9. europeanonion permalink
    April 22, 2019 10:47 am

    Would it be fair to say that politicians are vulnerable to the cosy sounding policy that makes them look abreast of the popular topics? However, when such understandings become mainstream then the observant see that they can do without political allegiances, they move to a more personalised activist stance knowing that the media loves a story and projecting outcomes are all the more prescient the scarier they are portrayed (Orson Wells brought America to a standstill with a radio play) the law of the interlocutor. The police are saying that the group tactics of those they are charged with containing are making a mockery of the force’s strategy .

    The Genie is out of the bottle and ripe for martyrs and evil geniuses, people who are gaming the system and with a significant chance of succeeding. This is what you get when authority declines. Parliament currently is all politics and very little government. Pretty soon the tactics of our political parties of cosying-up to what are little more than extremists must promote more significant challenges to order and on a multiplicity of fronts, see the Sorcerer’s Apprentice. Not just one rolling demo but a fragmentation of multiple claims all with their own strategies and increasing sophistication. If they united to press their divergent claims London would close down and prosecution become nigh on impossible. Guerrilla tactics of people unidentifiable in the general population.

    This is the steel fist inside the velvet glove. When elections become irrelevant and people with an axe to grind do not wait for a sympathetic hearing but rather err on the side of single issue tyrannies. The genie is out of the bottle and what started out as a generous allowance for people to demonstrate on the streets in the hope of bringing attention to their cause has morphed to not being interested in attempts to form consensus, have some pick up your torch and run with it. We now have all the features of propaganda and organised bands of disobedience. Change will be the property of discrete cells of those whose approach is anarchistic and threatening.

  10. April 22, 2019 1:11 pm

    “…the gain of landowners and energy magnets…”

    What? I used the spellchecker, how was I supposed to know?

    • Peter Plail permalink
      April 22, 2019 1:15 pm

      That’s just knitpicking.

      • April 22, 2019 6:06 pm

        Not nitpicking at all. I thought it was slightly funny. Nitpicking would be to point out your misspelling of nitpicking. Sorry, couldn’t resist 🙂

  11. Gerry, England permalink
    April 23, 2019 10:48 am

    Reading in The Mail today that the UK had its longest coal-free generation period – as if that is really something to be proud off – over the sunny Easter weekend. As a shareholder I am annoyed that some twat at National Grid thinks this is great as I believe the company should be neutral so that when it all comes crashing down the finger of blame came be directed straight at our Morons of Parliament.

    • MrGrimNasty permalink
      April 23, 2019 11:20 am

      What they don’t say on these manufactured publicity stunt occasions is that the demand could usually have been entirely met without wind/solar too (a quick look seems that this was probably the case this time too).

      Might as well say, oh look we can disconnect/bin all the wind and solar as we don’t need it anymore.

      Wind averaged about 5GW, hardly a monumental contribution, and solar provided a brief unnecessary spike each day!

  12. April 23, 2019 1:30 pm

    O/T – BBC’s Harrabin drove an electric car, plugged in at a relative’s to recharge and blew the house electrics.

  13. April 24, 2019 6:33 pm

    Reblogged this on ajmarciniak.

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