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

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

China to Open Stock Markets to Pension Funds

In unprecedented move, government to soon allow local pension funds to invest up to $94 billion in domestic shares More

1 Billion People Used Facebook on Single Day

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg praised the accomplishment in a posting on the social media site 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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.8770
JPY
USD
119.68
GBP
USD
0.6414
CAD
USD
1.3265
INR
USD
66.194

Rates may not be current.