Lomborg: Germany’s Sunshine Daydream

“One of the world’s biggest green-energy public-policy experiments is coming to a bitter end in Germany, with important lessons for policymakers elsewhere.”

Lomborg explains:

… Germany’s enthusiasm for solar power is understandable. We could satisfy all of the world’s energy needs for an entire year if we could capture just one hour of the sun’s energy. Even with the inefficiency of current PV technology, we could meet the entire globe’s energy demand with solar panels by covering 250,000 square kilometers (155,342 square miles), about 2.6% of the Sahara Desert.

Unfortunately, Germany – like most of the world – is not as sunny as the Sahara. And, while sunlight is free, panels and installation are not. Solar power is at least four times more costly than energy produced by fossil fuels. It also has the distinct disadvantage of not working at night, when much electricity is consumed.

In the words of the German Association of Physicists, “solar energy cannot replace any additional power plants.” 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. When the sun failed to shine last winter, one emergency back-up plan powered up an Austrian oil-fired plant to fill the supply gap.

Indeed, despite the massive investment, solar power accounts for only about 0.3% 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”). Germans pay three times more than their American counterparts.

Moreover, 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 eight million metric tons – or about 1% – for the next 20 years. When the effects are calculated in a standard climate model, the result is a reduction in average temperature of 0.00005oC (one twenty-thousandth of a degree Celsius, or one ten-thousandth of a degree Fahrenheit). To put it another way: by the end of the century, Germany’s $130 billion solar panel subsidies will have postponed temperature increases by 23 hours.

Using solar, Germany is paying about $1,000 per ton of CO2 reduced. The current CO2 price in Europe is $8. Germany could have cut 131 times as much CO2 for the same price. Instead, the Germans are wasting more than 99 cents of every euro that they plow into solar panels…

Read the entire commentary.

6 thoughts on “Lomborg: Germany’s Sunshine Daydream”

  1. Funny how no other journal takes crap like this as serious or worthy of discussion. Maybe there is a reason?

  2. We’ve got a 1,000 year supply of energy in North America sitting right under our butts. The costs of putting it to use at the user end of the electric cord and gas pump is several times cheaper than any of these idiotic ‘renewables’ and will continue to be so forever due to all the costs to install, maintain, and recycle the hardware that greenies keep trying to hide from the public.

    Well.. better late than never, I suppose.

  3. scizzorbill: During the late 40’s-early 50’s (pre-REA) ranchers in our neck of the woods used windchargers usually either 12 or 32 volt, some were 110 V DC. They all used battery backup and generators. Their experience was very similar to what you described with your boat.

  4. Solar and wind are a waste of time and money unless they are used exclusively to charge an accumulator aka battery. The accumulator retains a charge, and releases current on demand 24/7. When there is insufficient wind, and or solar output, and the accumulator is low, there must be a backup source of electricity.

    This is the system I have used on my boat for many years. I estimate that over the years I have had to fire up the generator once a week and run it for 4 to 5 hours to charge the battery banks.

    The land based systems currently in use throughout the world do not use accumulators. They provide current to the system while the sun shines and the wind blows. Sorry Greenies, this green dream of yours never had a chance of success no matter how much money you threw at it.

  5. In the lght of so many failed solar energy projects, it is easy to overlook how big a role solar energy sometimes plays in our lives. We lived in Denver for most of the 80s and at that time, (and likely since) Denver and its suburbs relied exclusively on solar energy for snow removal. And it worked! The streets and highway were always bare and dry shortly after the first of June.

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