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.
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

At International AIDS Conference One Goal, Many Paths

The 12,000 delegates attending 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne have vastly different visions about how to eradicate disease More

Disasters May Doom Malaysia’s Flag Carrier

Even before loss of two jets loaded with passengers on international flights, company had been operating in red for three years, accumulating deficit of $1.3 billion More

Afghan Presidential Vote Audit Continues Despite Glitches

Process has been marred by walkouts by representatives of two competing candidates, Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani 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.
Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Agei
X
Elizabeth Lee
July 20, 2014 2:36 AM
Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.
Video

Video Diplomatic Crisis Grows Over MH17 Plane Crash

The Malaysia Airlines crash in eastern Ukraine is drawing reaction from leaders around the world. With suspicions growing that a surface-to-air missile shot down the aircraft, there are increasing tensions in the international community over who is to blame. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Undocumented Immigrants Face Perilous Journey to US, No Guarantees

Every day, hundreds of undocumented immigrants from Central America attempt the arduous journey through Mexico and turn themselves over to U.S. border patrol -- with the hope that they will not be turned away. But the dangers they face along the way are many, and as Ramon Taylor reports from the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, their fate rests on more than just the reception they get at the US border.
Video

Video Scientists Create Blackest Material Ever

Of all the black things in the universe only the infamous "black holes" are so black that not even a tiny amount of light can bounce back. But scientists have managed to create material almost as black, and it has enormous potential use. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Fog Collector Transforming Maasai Water Harvesting in Kenya

The Maasai people of Kenya are known for their cattle-herding, nomadic lifestyle. But it's an existence that depends on access to adequate water for their herds and flocks. Lenny Ruvaga reports for VOA, on a "fog collector."

AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.7305
JPY
USD
101.53
GBP
USD
0.5830
CAD
USD
1.0656
INR
USD
60.075

Rates may not be current.