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Gridlock
Germany’s Energy Mistakes Are Hurting Its Neighbors Too

It’s one thing for a country’s radical energy decisions to burden its own citizens, but it’s another altogether when those negative effects start to spill over into neighboring nations. That’s what’s happening in Germany right now, where headlong subsidization of renewable energy has not only produced some of the highest electricity bills in Europe, but has also threatened the stability of power grids in Poland and the Czech Republic. The WSJ reports:

[O]n windy and sunny days when Germany produces far more electricity than it needs…[excess] power spills over the border into Polish and Czech territory, threatening their electrical grids with collapse, companies and governments there say. […]

To bear the weight of German power, Prague and Warsaw are now investing millions in higher voltage wires and installing transformers at the border to redirect the power back to German turf…Czech and Polish customers have been left covering the costs. The fallout has become acute for Polish and Czech coal power companies. Because the grids are clogged up by German electricity, the companies’ ability to trade the power they produce has been impaired, in the same way that a congested tunnel prevents more cars from entering.

To recap, Germany has become the world leader in renewable energy through its energiewende, a plan that involved phasing out nuclear power (a curious decision for a purportedly environmentally conscious country, as nuclear is a zero-emissions energy source) while boosting wind and solar power by guaranteeing producers long-term, above-market rates. The costs of those cushy deals for renewable suppliers have been passed along to consumers, of course, in the form of green surcharges to monthly power bills. As a result, Germans are paying out the nose for their electricity, and their bills keep rising.

But wind and solar power are intermittent—they can only supply the grid when the sun is shining and the wind is blowing. On especially sunny or windy days, that can mean a sharp spike in supplies that doesn’t just strain Germany’s grid, but also those of its neighbors.

So now Poland and the Czech Republic are having to contend with blackouts, unstable grids, and at times an inability to sell their own power. Believe it or not, this is not what a successful energy policy looks like.

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  • Disappeared4x

    “…As a result, Germans are paying out the nose for their electricity,…” might need a tweak. Anyone have any idea what German residential customers pay per kwh for electricity? Keine nase bitte

    • rheddles

      Two sources indicate Germany pays $.30-$.35/kWH for electric power, or three times the rates Americans pay.

      • Boritz

        You see commercials on German TV for big batteries that hang on the wall in the garage and the bring a smile to the face of the stressed-out homeowner.

        • rheddles

          Why? Do they have variable pricing?

          • Boritz

            I think the idea is that you can do some combination of solar storage and non-peak storage.

        • Jim__L

          …. And how do these faces look when house fires start making the batteries explode?

      • Disappeared4x

        TY. Massachusetts is at $.19/kwh, still working on catching up to Germany. Romney ordered the coal-fired plants closed, Vermont’s Yankee nuclear shut down, no windmills in the Berkshires, and success in getting KinderMorgan to withdraw their frackednatgas pipeline proposal. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/0f455df68f014a586c48a666be3c7db85df10e448c33e974830b2ef2adb5a8de.png

        Just wanted the picture of Germans “paying out the nose” to disappear…

      • Dyllin Barnett-Lozano

        Hold on! We in CA pay those rates and have the same grid problems!

  • rheddles

    The Germans have a disturbing habit of seizing on an idea and carrying it to an extreme that causes difficulties for its neighbors.

    • Johnathan Swift Jr.

      Yes, there was that little matter of 1929-1945 that my father had to pop over for, then another little matter from 1914-1918, when the Germans decided to take a vacation in Flanders and then took a wrong turn into France. The people in Mons were still speaking about it when I was there in the early 1980s.

    • InklingBooks

      True. Germans call it “idealism” and value it highly. The idealist in considered superior to the pragmatist. The rest of Europe calls it “crazy” or worse. Germans have had this problem for a long time. Some two centuries ago, Europeans had as saying:

      “God has given to the British the kingdom of the sea, to the French the kingdom of the land, and to Germans the kingdom of the air.”

      The first is a reference to the British navy, then far larger than any other. The second refers to the French army, then the largest in Europe. But the last doesn’t refer to an air force. There were none at the time. The reference was to airy, impractical dreams or, as was said elsewhere, to a Germany that lived in “cloud cuckoo land.”

      From Wikipedia:
      The German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer used the word (German Wolkenkuckucksheim) in his publication On the Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason in 1813, as well as later in his main work The World as Will and Representation and in other places. Here, he gave it its figurative sense by reproaching other philosophers for only talking about Cloud-cuckoo-land.
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cloud_cuckoo_land

      –Michael W. Perry, editor of Chesterton on War and Peace: Battling the Ideas and Movements that Led to Nazism and World War II

  • Johnathan Swift Jr.

    Merkelism is destroying Germany, but that seems to be the general idea in all the European nations, undermine the national character, humiliate the people and then replace them with the true master race, their cultural, religious and moral superiors from the superior civilizations of the Middle East. Pricing electricity out of reach for the common worker, who will then need to be subsidized by the all-knowing, all-seeing beneficent state would seem to be part of this wondrous process.

  • gabrielsyme

    German policy on just about everything of substance these days is to do what suits them, and damn the consequences to their neighbours.

    • Dyllin Barnett-Lozano

      Whadaya mean, “these days”? They know all this stuff about screwin’ neighbors. Moreover, as they are closing in nukes and replacing with imported coal shouldn’t surprise anyone either. Vas it’s gute fur Deutschland it’s gute fur der veld!

  • ljgude

    Here in Australia the Greens/Labor have set 50% renewables ‘targets’ in the state of South Australia which has caused serious blackouts. Of course it isn’t the fault of intermittents , I mean renewables. Sensibly the South Australia government has advised businesses requiring reliable electricity supplies to put in their own backup generators.

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