Wednesday 22 August 2012

If Germany Can Do it ... A Big 'If''

All eyes are on Germany these days as Greece, Spain and Italy await their fiscal fate.  

But it isn't just the great Euro- question for which answers are sought in Germany.  For, in much the same way that La Toynbee harps continually about the Swedish model of social policy, so many a Green offers us the Teutonic approach as the paragon of energy policy.

Decisively scrapping nuclear generation; generously subsidising wind and solar power; dramatically meeting nearly half its electricity needs from solar in May of this year: Utopia-am-Rhein has already been built !  You see, they chorus, and if Germany can do it ...

Not so fast, my little green chums.  Here's your summer reading project on German energy.
Let's leave the final word to G√ľnther Oettinger (German!), the EC's Energie-Kommissar (sic): 
Germany has the second highest electricity prices in Europe - mainly because of high taxes and the renewable energy levy. This can not go on, because we will overwhelm the consumer and harm the economy
Well said, that man. 



Blue Eyes said...

I read an article recently which I can't find again which hinted at a huge investment drain into stupidly-expensive solar because of the feed-in regime.

The article pointed out that solar was about the most expensive "green" technology there is, especially in Northern Europe.


Nick Drew said...

indeed, BE

- but I have a scheme for getting moonbeams from cucumbers that I could perhaps interest you in ..?

Bill Quango MP said...

It may seem unlikely, but a businesswoman who drives a Jaguar is one of the four candidates to succeed Caroline Lucas MP as leader of the Green Party.

Pippa Bartolotti accepts that driving the car .. is likely to be a handicap in her ambitions to lead the low-carbon, public-transport-orientated Greens via their forthcoming internal election, but is unrepentant.

"Yes, it does damage my image within the Green Party – but I've got the same problem everybody else has got," says the former fashion designer and company owner. "Am I suddenly going to pay 25-grand for an electric car which I can't charge up hardly anywhere, because there's no infrastructure, and even if I could charge it up, a lot of the energy would be coming from dirty, coal-fired power stations? It might look nice on the face of it, but that would be cosmetic."

Ms Bartolotti, 59, a mother of three grown-up children who is currently leader of the Greens in Wales, says she knows she could have sold her 10-year-old Jaguar X-type ("market value about 1,800 quid") but decided not to.

Pretty much the same argument as the entire green energy policy.

"We in the UK could change to only solar and wind but if China and US don't then its a pretty pointless and terribly expensive choice."

Blue Eyes said...

My Green Party buddy drives a Mercedes SLK. At least he has the decency to be embarrassed.

I am a rampant capitalist free-marketeer and drive, um, nothing.

Budgie said...

ND, of course if Germany carried on with its nuclear generators none of the issues on your list would exist.

But, oops, I'm not meant to say that.

Anonymous said...

The entirety of Western Ponzi welfarism relies on network externalities - uncosted pollution, consumption of non-renewable energy, artificial fertilisers from oil etc.

The long-term sustainable global population is 2B. The big question is how 5B people will die as fuel, food and water security collapses.

No politician dares say as much.

By 2030, British standard of living will be, at best, that of 1930.

Nick Drew said...

Budgie - I agree ! They are bonkers to close the nukes ahead of their natural lifespan

(why would you imagine I think otherwise ? it's subsidies I inveigh against - the bigger, the worse)

anon - we can readily add to your list of uncosted externalities (well, extrenal to the short-term economic calculation): health, welfare, crime, ...

and Budgie would add: security of supply

Nick Drew said...

BTW, anon, don't be too Malthusian in your view of what a sustainable population might be: best not to under-estimate human ingenuity, it's never a good bet in the long run

Sebastian Weetabix said...

Oh dear. Malthusian nutter alert. Thanks to superior drilling and fracking techniques we've solved our energy problems for the next two centuries, though our politicians have failed to realise it. That energy will allow us to feed 8bn people.

Overpopulation concerns are the left's way of subconsciously enjoying racism. As P. J. O'Rourke put it, they don't talk about Holland or England being overpopulated - only places like Bangladesh and sub-Saharan Africa... "overpopulation; just enough of us, way too many of you"

hovis said...

at a tangent - both Mathusianism and the cornucopianism displayed here are abused and misused, till now Malthusianism is marginally in the lead, but it's a close run thing.

CityUnslicker said...

Hovis - malthusianism in the lead. No way, 7 billion people, ample food and technology, the only real damage is possibly some global warming, reducint genetic diversity and possibly fish stocks - even these can be replaced with better management policy.

The main issue with overpopulation will be that when robots do much of the work humans will hve leisure time in abundance - with no need for everyone to work, society will have to re-organise. That is the existential threat to capitalism, its own success.

Jan said...

Ah yes work...another Tororrow's World topic in the 70s was how we wouldn't have to work in 20 or 30 years time because robots would do it all.
Now some people work harder than ever with crazy commutes and everyone (on the BBC at least) assumes that everyone has better mental health when they are employed. So if that is true how is it going to change?
Economists seem puzzled by the unemployment figures not being as bad as they thought they would be but maybe more people are working part-time and at the same time learning to live on a lower income and realising that working FT isn't that great.

hovis said...

You misunderstood what I was saying CU, I meant the abuse of the concept to justify / allow crap actions and policies and outcomes. So yes, Malthuisianism is in the lead, your comment agrees with that.Paul Ehrlich was wrong.

That said I agree with Jan, the idea that we are all happily going to have leisure time and the robots are going to do all the work is (deluded) utopianism. Society will polarise and be uglier enabled by technology.

For example Look at the recent laws passed in the US re armed drones over US soil.

As for others stuff how did the "Green Revolution" of the 60's work out in Africa? Utter failure. As is the claim that GM wil increase crop yield, scratch the surface and most increases in yeild are not down to genetic manipulation but 'normal' standard plant breeding, a gene is only tweaked to allow a patent. So as I say Malthusianism is usedto justisfy lots of nonsense, its negative conscequences are ahead but only just.

CityUnslicker said...

Hovies - I was not arguing that robots lead to a utopia. Just that it is happening, Apple are installing a million robots in China to replace workers. manufactuirng jobs decline in the West as productivity increases.

Leisure time, how to live, how to allocate resources, the purtian model of desiring hard work. All this is going to change over time - where I agree with you is that it is going to be messy and maybe horrible.

Structural unemployment in the West is going up and has done for decades - but we have more food, heat, roads etc than before.