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.