It’s not easy implementing an ill-thought out policy. That’s the lesson Germany is being taught these days as it struggles to deal with the after effects of its ambitious and deeply flawed energiewende—its vaunted “green” energy transition. It’s a tricky task to somehow sell a nuclear phaseout as part of an eco-friendly energy policy, but that hasn’t stopped Berlin from moving ahead with plans to close its nuclear reactors.
In place of those zero-carbon baseload power sources, Germany has had to resort to burning large amounts of lignite, one of the dirtiest varieties of coal, itself one of the dirtiest fossil fuels around. Now the FT reports that though Germans are relying less on nuclear power, “the country remains heavily dependent on lignite and coal, which generated 26 per cent and 18 per cent respectively of German electricity output last year.” And there’s a further problem: Transmission continues to pose problems for German policymakers. Landowners that don’t seem to have a problem with the aesthetics of newly-constructed wind or solar farms are less excited to see new corridors of power lines, and that Not In My Backyard opposition is threatening the viability of some new renewable production.
As we’ve noted before, the energiewende has also racked up an enormous bill along the way, and consumers are ultimately the ones paying for it in the form of some of Europe’s highest electricity prices. What a mess.