News / Economy

Green Energy Expansion in Germany Comes at a Hefty Price

FILE - Wind turbines produce green energy in Nauen near Berlin, Germany.
FILE - Wind turbines produce green energy in Nauen near Berlin, Germany.
TEXT SIZE - +
Ana Hontz-Ward
— Germany is one of the top producers of renewable energy in the world. Since the year 2000 the country’s production of clean electricity jumped from a modest 6 percent to 25 percent last year in an effort to shift the German economy from nuclear power and fossil fuels towards wind and solar energy. Despite the progress, German consumers pay among the highest electricity prices in the European Union.  

Lissy Ishang started turning off appliances to save energy when she moved away from home a decade ago. Back then, Lissy’s family was paying half the price Germans pay today for electricity and this year German consumers are expected to pay even more.
 
Today an average family of four in Germany spends about $107 a month for electricity. This year, their monthly bill will be $129, almost three times more than a family in the United States.
 
“I always make sure that things are turned off when I leave home. I pull plugs and shut down appliances. I am trying to be careful how much we use because electricity is really, really expensive,” Ishang said.

The price hike is due to an increase in the Renewable Energy Surcharge. The surcharge is one of many government fees, taxes and subsidies that are passed on to average consumers and fund Germany’s renewable energy sector.
 
Niels Schnoor is a policy officer with the Federation of German Consumer Organizations in Berlin. He said Germany’s aggressive expansion into green energy, expensive off shore wind farms and generous subsidies will continue to drive up energy prices.
 
“Partly, the high energy prices are due to mistakes made by the government. If we had focused from the very beginning on the cheap technologies maybe the energy prices would not be as high as they are at the moment,” said Schnoor.
 
A recent government study found that eight percent of Germany’s electricity comes from wind farms, mostly in Northern Germany and the North Sea where winds are strong. Over four percent comes from solar energy, especially from Southern Germany and Bavaria where many homes and public buildings are covered with solar panels. The rest of the renewable energy is generated by hydropower, biofuels and biomass plants.

Paul Hockenos is an energy expert and journalist based in Berlin. He said building a green energy infrastructure like wind and solar parks, is expensive but once in place, Germans can expect not just lower prices but also greater energy independence.
 
"Don’t forget, what Germany is doing right now. It’s changing its power supply. The last time when an energy supply was changed was the industrial revolution; this is something that has never been done before. And Germany is not any country when it comes to heavy industry and exports power. Yes, there are price increases but Germany is still competitive on the international market," he explained. "Last year it exported more goods than it did in its history, it also exports electricity.”
 
In the aftermath of the Japanese tsunami and Fukushima disaster in 2011, Chancellor Angela Merkel renewed Germany’s pledge to abandon nuclear power and shut down eight of its 17 nuclear reactors. Germany plans to completely phase out its nuclear energy production in the next decade.

The government’s goal is that by 2050, 80 percent of electricity will come from renewable sources. Niels Schnoor said that will be possible only if Germany abandons its costly approach for a more cost effective green energy industry.
 
“We need a new start, we have to focus on the very cost effective technologies which in my opinion are wind power and solar power. We don’t need other technologies, other renewable in order to achieve the goals of the energy transition in Germany,” Schnoor stated.
 
Some would say Germany’s transformation from a fossil fuel to a green economy is a success. But consumers and industries have found the transition to an alternative source of energy has come at a hefty price. Peter Altmaier, the German minister of the environment, says the total cost of the energy transition in Germany will eventually amount to $1.3 trillion.

You May Like

Photogallery Pope's Easter Prayer: Peace in Ukraine, Syria

Pontiff also calls for end to terrorist acts in Nigeria, violence in Iraq, and success in peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians More

Abdullah Holds Lead in Afghan Presidential Election

Country's Election Commission says that with half of the ballots counted, former FM remains in the lead with 44 percent of the vote More

Russia-Ukraine Crisis Could Trigger Cyber War

As tensions between Kyiv and Moscow escalate, so too has frequency of online attacks targeting government, news and financial sites More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Takahshi Minamin from: AKB, Tokyo
February 28, 2014 9:00 PM
New technology will expand when that is cheap and reliable, but these renewable energy such as wind turbines and solar power are hight cost due to low energy efficiency and they depend on weather condition.


by: Ray Del Colle
February 26, 2014 10:22 AM
"The cost of clean energy has dropped dramatically in recent years — even faster than experts expected.


by: Bob Wallace
February 25, 2014 8:03 PM
Germans pay about the same per kWh as people in New York and Connecticut for electricity and distribution. Less than people in Hawaii.

Added on to German's electricity bill is a stack of tax. Taxes that go to the general fund and to cover renewable subsidies.

In the US we pay those taxes via income tax.



Let's look at how costs break out for retail customers in Germany...

In 2013 the average household electricity rate is about 29 € cents / kWh according to the BDEW (Energy industry association).

The composition:

8.0 cent - Power Generation & Sales
6.5 cent - Grid Service Surcharge

5.3 cent - Renewable Energy Surcharge
0.7 cent - Other Surcharges (CHP-Promotion, Offshore liability,...)

In addition there are some taxes & fees that go straight into the governments budget:

2.1 cent - EcoTax (federal government)
1.8 cent - Concession fees (local governments)
4.6 cent - Value added tax (19% on all of the above) - (federal, state & local governments)

So 8 + 6.5 or 14.5 euro cents go to electricity purchase and delivery. About 19 US cents. That's higher than the US 12.5 cent average, but less than a penny higher than New York and Connecticut.


by: Brunswig from: Harvard
February 25, 2014 12:31 PM
it is always amazing to see how idiotic Leftist propaganda infect so called "enlightened" nations... I am still waiting to hear the Left proclaim the benefits of Eugenics and the extermination of undesirables... you think i am kidding..?? who will be the "undesirables" this time, I wonder...

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.7217
JPY
USD
102.17
GBP
USD
0.5949
CAD
USD
1.1009
INR
USD
60.326

Rates may not be current.