German Renewable Energy Investing

Jeff Siegel

Written By Jeff Siegel

Posted May 24, 2013

So it looks like the International Energy Agency is lashing out against Germany for focusing too much on renewables and too little on natural gas.

merkelGermany has been very aggressive on the renewable energy front by creating a very successful feed-in tariff that basically launched the entire global solar industry from niche to billion-dollar player. And following the Fukushima disaster, Chancellor Angela Merkel put the kibosh on eight German nuclear power plants and initiated a nuclear phase-out plan that’s expected to be completed by 2022.

Of course, such a shift in the country’s energy economy has come at a price. Bottom line: It ain’t cheap to transition a decades-old, fossil fuel-based energy infrastructure to one that will ultimately cater primarily to renewables.

That being said, if that’s what the Germans have signed off on, so be it. Certainly I don’t see the IEA hassling the US for using too much natural gas, thereby forcing coal to be shipped to Asia where it will eventually result in a much larger environmental burden compared to burning it here.

And I sure as hell didn’t see the IEA chiming in before a massive tsunami crushed the Fukushima Daiichi power plant, thereby initiating one of the worst nuclear power plant meltdowns ever recorded. You know it’ll be another 40 to 50 years before that mess is entirely cleaned up?

Although I value much of the IEA’s data, I find its recent criticisms of Germany’s energy transition to be somewhat suspicious. I’m not exactly sure why the powers that be over at the IEA are so insistent that Germany show a little more love for natural gas.

According to the report, Germany’s strategic role of natural gas needs further clarification and greater thought should be given to its use and place in the electricity supply mix of the future.

Of course, nevermind the fact that Germany has nowhere near the natural gas resources as the United States, and is very much vulnerable to the will of the Russians when it comes to locking in natural gas supplies.

Not that I’d have any problems selling the the good people of Germany some of our LNG. Especially at what its going for in Europe these days. But I call bullshit on the IEA on this one.

The point of the IEA’s report is to highlight the fact that the cost of Germany’s energy shift unfairly penalizes consumers with higher electricity rates while industries are given discounts. But if that is the case, then that’s on German voters. And considering Germany is pretty much the only country in the EU that hasn’t been gutted by the recession, I’d say the voice of the German people is more valuable than the voice of the IEA.

I do value the IEA’s data analysis, but I think this latest report is a bit overreaching, and quite frankly makes the IEA look like little more than a shill for the natural gas industry.

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