“Progress has been limited…”

Oh, I dunno. Depends upon how you look at it.

Progress

In 2011, German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced the country was turning away from nuclear energy in favor of a renewable future. Since then, however, progress has been limited. Berlin has wasted billions of euros and resistance is mounting…

But there’s been plenty of change here, although I wouldn’t call it progress. Lots of people can’t afford to pay their power bills in Germany – the country with the highest energy costs for consumers in Europe. Could there possibly be a connection to the “energy turnaround” here?

More than 340,000 electricity customers across Germany have their power cut off each year for failing to pay bills. A new proposal from one political party aims to change this.

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“Germany” To Protect Consumers From Rising Electricity Prices?

The rising electricity prices that “Germany” caused in the first place, you mean?

Consumers

Well, not quite. The “German taxpayer” will have to protect consumers from these rising prices, as usual. It’s a brilliant business plan that only governments like “Germany” can think up. The consumer/taxpayer pays twice, see? It’s not like anybody has to ask them.

Germany is planning to protect consumers and manufacturers from the impact of abandoning cheap coal-fired power, which Berlin is looking to ditch for environmental reasons, according to a government body’s draft paper.

The Coal Commission, which is tasked with organizing the exit from coal, said in a 133-page draft document seen by Reuters that companies and private households should be spared from heavy price increases.

“The necessary funds must be made available by the state to finance the recommended measures.”

German Of The Day: Preiserhöhung

That means price rise. For German electricity bills, in this case. Another big one on the way. Wonder why?

Energy

Keen to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and transform its energy sector, German leaders adopted a vast program called Energiewende eight years ago and the country prides itself on setting the pace for change in the European Union…

But earlier this year, officials admitted the country will not hit the 2020 goal, saying it would reach 32 percent at best (40 percent was the goal).

Greenhouse gas emissions in Germany have not decreased for the last nine years and emissions from the transportation sector have not fallen since 1990. In fact, the United States has reduced carbon emissions more than Germany, in both real and nominal terms…

The growing pains have led to higher prices, largely shouldered by residential power customers.

Between 2015 and 2017, Germany inched ahead of Denmark for the highest electricity prices for household customers (35 cents per kilowatt-hour, in U.S. currency), according to the statistical office of the European Union.

Viele deutsche Haushalte müssen im kommenden Jahr deutlich mehr für Strom bezahlen. Berechnungen von Online-Vergleichsportalen zeigen, dass die Preise in der Grundversorgung um durchschnittlich vier bis fünf Prozent steigen werden.

Renewable Energy Keeps Renewing Its Price

Ever upward, of course.

Renewable

But Germans don’t mind paying this. That’s just the price they have to pay for, uh, the price they have to pay.

Germany’s green energy levy for 2017, the surcharge in consumers bills that supports renewable energy generators, will increase by 8.3% year-on-year to EUR 0.0688 (USD 0.076) per kWh.

Verbraucher müssen zur Förderung von Strom aus Windkraft und Sonne wohl auch im nächsten Jahr tiefer in die Tasche greifen. Die sogenannte Ökostrom-Umlage wird von derzeit 6,35 Cent auf 6,88 Cent pro Kilowattstunde angehoben.

Uber And Out

Always remember: What is not expressly allowed in Germany is strictly forbidden.

Uber

A court in Frankfurt has ruled that the UberPop ride-hailing service may not operate anywhere in Germany for the simple reason that, uh, well, you ought to have an official permit to do so. To be the driver, I mean.

This is a big relief for everybody here because if people didn’t have to have official permits to use the service then anybody could just simply offer or choose to use the service on his or her own, without being regulated. One can’t have that here because this would make the people who would otherwise make the regulations and hand out the permits superfluous and also make taxi driving more competitive and even bring down prices for the consumer, without these prices being properly regulated first, I mean. There are a lot of bad implications here, people. So, like I said, strictly forbidden. Or verboten, if you prefer.

And besides, they spell Uber wrong.

„Ubers Geschäftsmodell basiert auf Rechtsbruch.“

Sunny, Windy, Costly And Dirty

What’s not to like here?

Super Minister

“Super minister?” I’d say this is more like a job for Superpenner.

The difference between the market price for electricity and the higher fixed price for renewables is passed on to consumers, whose bills have been rising for years. An average household now pays an extra €260 ($355) a year to subsidise renewables: the total cost of renewable subsidies in 2013 was €16 billion. Costs are also going up for companies, making them less competitive than rivals from America, where energy prices are falling thanks to the fracking boom…

Cost is not the only problem with the Energiewende. It has in effect turned the entire German energy industry into a quasi-planned economy with perverse outcomes. At certain times on some days, sun and wind power may provide almost all German electricity. But the sun does not always shine, especially in winter, and the wind is unpredictable. And “batteries”—storage technologies that, for example, convert power to gas and back again to electricity—on a scale sufficient to supply a city are years away. Nuclear-power plants are being phased out (this week’s court decision that the closure of a plant in Hesse was illegal will raise costs even more, as it may entitle the operator to more compensation). So conventional power plants have to stay online in order to assure continuous supply. 

I Got The Power

The power bill, I mean. The Power Bill Blues, actually. Just like everybody else here in Germany.

Power

The electricity prices in Germany are the highest in the EU. A household here shells out 1000 euros annually (approx. $1,370). The French pay half. The EU average is around 700 euros.

Is this what they meant by the Energiewende (energy turnaround)? The power may be renewable here but I’m not sure how much longer the money is going to be.

Well, at least the electricity prices in Germany will be going up even higher again next year.

Bei den Strompreisen gehört Deutschland innerhalb der EU zu den Spitzenreitern. Ein Haushalt zahlt mehr als 1000 Euro, der EU-Schnitt liegt bei 700. Und im kommenden Jahr dürfte es noch teurer werden.

A Scrooge Issue?

Or is it more of a squanderer one?

Scrooge

I don’t know what troubles me more here; a Germany that spends too little for Christmas or the weakest European economies that spend too much.

With almost 28 percent unemployment and a lingering recession that’s wiped out one-fourth of their country’s economic output, it makes sense that Greek consumers plan to trim their Christmas spending by 12.8 percent this year. What’s more surprising is that the average Greek budget for holiday gifts, food, and drink is €451 ($608)—more than the €399 average in Germany, the country that has borne much of the cost of a Greek bailout.

Residents of Ireland, another bailed-out economy, plan to outspend the Germans more than two to one this Christmas, with an average €894 budget. In Spain, where unemployment is at 26 percent, consumers expect to spend an average €567. In recession-hobbled Italy, meanwhile, the figure is €477.

“Differences between countries’ spending habits are linked to the culture of the countries.”

Speaking of spending…

This is news? Well the amount is rather newsworthy, I guess. That ever-busy German Federal Office for Statistics has just determined that American consumers spend more than their German counterparts do. Like, I had no idea.

 

 Consume doom

 

On average, the American consumer spends 5000 euros a year more than the German consumer does (and yes, there is more than one). But that was then and this is now. Americans apparently don’t want to spend so much anymore, for some strange reason, so it’s up to the Germans and Co. to pick up the slack and save the world’s economy and start shopping till they drop already.

 

I believe this will happen, too. But, then again, I also believe that Santa Claus is actually the Easter Bunny (and vice versa) and that monkeys regularly fly out of Peer Steinbrück’s… You know; ears.

 

„Demnach lagen im vergangenen Jahr die jährlichen Konsumausgaben pro Einwohner in Deutschland mit 17 073 Euro deutlich unter dem US-Wert von 22 457 Euro.“