The Future Looks C-C-Cold

In Germany. In the winter.

Cold

Thousands of people marched Saturday in Berlin to demand that Germany speed up its exit from coal-fired power plants, a day before the opening of a U.N. climate summit in neighboring Poland.

“Stop Coal!” is the rallying call today. “Stop nuclear power!” was yesterday. The Germans have already shut down their nuclear power industry due to an earthquake in Japan. Don’t ask.

Some of these demonstrators have clearly thought all of this through, however. That’s why they’re wearing those polar bear suits. “Somebody turn on the freakin’ heat already!” Will by the rallying cry of the future.

“The future is coal-free.”

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The Short Answer Is No

Not without nuclear energy.

If Germany Can’t Quit Coal, Can Anyone Else?

Coal

It would seem like a major step toward Prime Minister Angela Merkel’s goal to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent of 1990 totals by 2020. But German utilities just can’t seem to quit burning coal. Some power plants are switching to cheaper imported black coal from the United States, Russia, or Colombia. And at the same time, Germany is also digging more lignite, or brown coal. Lignite is 50 percent water and yields much less energy than the shiny black anthracite. But lignite is easy to bulldoze from massive strip mines that dot Germany’s northwest and eastern border with Poland. Among Europe’s power plants, Germany’s brown coal stations constitute six out of 10 of the worst polluters.

“It’s like organizing your own funeral.”

 

Now That’s Putting It A Little Drastic

But wenn man recht hat, hat man recht. But when you’re right, you’re right.

Hog

Germany Is a Coal-Burning, Gas-Guzzling Climate Change Hypocrite.

Just this summer, German Chancellor Angela Merkel read U.S. President Donald Trump the riot act for pulling out of the Paris climate accord, chiding the United States for ignoring and perpetuating climate change…

Yet Germany’s image as selfless defender of the climate, which was once largely deserved, is now a transparent fiction. Germany has fallen badly behind on its pledges to sink its own greenhouse gas pollutants. In fact, Germany’s carbon emissions haven’t declined for nearly a decade and the German Environment Agency calculated that Germany emitted 906 million tons of CO2 in 2016 — the highest in Europe — compared to 902 million in 2015. And 2017’s interim numbers suggest emissions are going to tick up again this year.

Germany Leading From Behind

While going in the wrong direction. With lots of wind in its face.

Energy

At one point this month renewable energy sources briefly supplied close to 90 percent of the power on Germany’s electric grid. But that doesn’t mean the world’s fourth-largest economy is close to being run on zero-carbon electricity. In fact, Germany is giving the rest of the world a lesson in just how much can go wrong when you try to reduce carbon emissions solely by installing lots of wind and solar.

After years of declines, Germany’s carbon emissions rose slightly in 2015, largely because the country produces more electricity than it needs. That’s happening because even if there are times when renewables can supply nearly all of the electricity on the grid, the variability of those sources forces Germany to keep other power plants running. And in Germany, which is phasing out its nuclear plants, those other plants primarily burn dirty coal.

A Green Superpower?

Germany?

Coal

Germany is a superpower when it comes to setting ambitious goals. But it’s even better at burning coal.

Germany aims to generate 80% of its power from renewable sources by 2050 with nuclear being fully phased out by 2021. But given the costs associated with renewables and the challenge of replacing nuclear power efficiently, it is not clear that Germany will succeed in either of these goals…

The Germans have increasingly turned to coal as their power generation source of choice, especially U.S. coal. Today coal power plants are responsible for generating nearly half of Germany’s power, and numerous new plants are scheduled to come online in the next few years.

Overall, the increase in coal is likely to create a significant increase in airborne pollution and potentially stoke tension between Germany and its neighbors. But at the same time, if Germany wants to phase out nuclear power, coal is the only realistic option; a fact which some German politicians are starting to admit.

The Next Thing You Know They’ll Be Selling These On Ebay

Germany’s utilities, battered by the country’s shift to wind turbines and solar panels, would be glad to sell you a power plant on the cheap. They’ll even pack it up and ship it to another country.

Power Plant

The two largest power producers, RWE AG and EON SE, are especially keen to sell their gas-fired plants, rendered uncompetitive by the rise of renewable energy on the one hand and record low coal prices on the other. It’s a relatively easy task to take them apart, move them by truck and ship and reassemble them elsewhere.

“There is a liquid global market for gas turbines. Transport costs are entirely marginal.”

Just Like The Duracell Bunny

Germany’s Energiewende (energy turnaround) just keeps on going.

Not only is the cost part still working: The cost of government subsidies for green energy is passed directly through to consumers. As a result, German households pay twice as much for electricity as their US counterparts.

Coal

The unreliability of renewables keeps on working, too: Berlin has little choice but to rely on electricity generation from dirty coal-fired power stations (evil nuclear power has been turned off here).

Which brings us to the next absurd turn of events.:  A striking example of the absurdity of this emerged this week with the publication of a letter from Germany’s vice-chancellor to the new Swedish centre-left government. Ms Merkel’s deputy warned of serious consequences for electricity supplies and jobs if Vattenfall, Sweden’s state-owned utility, ditched plans to expand two coal mines in Germany. While the Germans may need the dirty lignite these facilities produce, the Swedes are under pressure to scale back the mines because of popular concerns in Sweden about CO2 emissions.

US-Amerika Responsible For Rising German Carbon Dioxide Emissions

We all knew somehow that the Germans themselves could not be responsible for this. Now we know why.

Coal

Coal mining’s demise in Germany comes as the country is experiencing a resurgence in coal-fired power, one which the U.S. increasingly has helped supply. U.S. exports of power plant-grade coal to Germany have more than doubled since 2008.

“This is a classic case of political greenwashing.”

Mystery Crater Discovered In Germany

As if the recent discovery of the mysterious mystery crater in the Yamal Peninsula of Siberia had not been mysterious enough…

Crater

German scientists have now discovered a giant, 50-square-mile mystery crater near Hambach, Germany, as well.

Hole

The German mystery crater appears to have been at one time filled with unimaginable amounts of something called “brown coal,” one of the dirtiest fuels on earth, until this dirty substance was removed by a mysterious machine some 30 stories tall to then be burned at mysterious German coal-burning power stations, which is the real mystery, of course, as Germany continues to insist that it is the world’s leader when it comes to the development of renewable energy sources – and they’re still digging.

Since the late 1970s, giant earth-moving machines have been digging what German environmentalists decry as “Europe’s biggest hole” at Hambach in the Lower Rhine basin.

“It can’t work without Russian gas”

The German energy turnaround can’t, that is. And that’s why the way things look right now, the turnaround is about to get turned around – yet again.

Power

If Germany makes its goal of having 80 percent of its power come from renewable sources by 2050, there is no question it will add to the country’s energy security. But along the way, as it takes nuclear power plants offline and builds up its renewable network, the country remains reliant on fossil fuels – and that means Russia.

Germany gets some 35 percent of its natural gas and oil from Russia, as well as significant quantities of coal, a dependency that weakens Germany’s energy switchover plan, according to Hans-Werner Sinn, a prominent economist.

“Es wird eine neue Betrachtung der gesamten Energiepolitik geben”