Why Is Germany Backing off Its Green Energy Promotion?

In one of the countries leading the world in green energy adoption, a program to support solar energy has become a victim of its own success, reports Bjørn Lomborg.
February 28, 2012, 9am PST | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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It seems that Germany's enthusiasm for solar energy, where the government has doled out more than $130 billion in subsidies to its citizens to encourage them to invest in solar energy, does not match the country's ability to generate enough energy from sunlight to meet its overbuilt capacity and does little to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

According to Lomborg, "On short, overcast winter days, Germany's 1.1 million solar-power systems can generate no electricity at all. The country is then forced to import considerable amounts of electricity from nuclear power plants in France and the Czech Republic."

"Indeed, despite the massive investment, solar power accounts for only about 0.3 percent of Germany's total energy. This is one of the key reasons why Germans now pay the second-highest price for electricity in the developed world (exceeded only by Denmark, which aims to be the 'world wind-energy champion')."

Even worse for solar energy proponents, "this sizeable investment does remarkably little to counter global warming. Even with unrealistically generous assumptions, the unimpressive net effect is that solar power reduces Germany's CO2 emissions by roughly 8 million metric tons-or about 1 percent – for the next 20 years."

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Published on Saturday, February 18, 2012 in Slate
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