With Germany as inspiration, the United Nations and World Bank poured billions into renewables like wind, solar, and hydro in developing nations likeKenya.
But then, last year, Germany was forced to acknowledge that it had to delay its phase-out of coal, and would not meet its 2020 greenhouse gas reduction commitments. It announced plans to bulldoze an ancient church and forest in order to get at the coal underneath it.
But Germany didn’t just fall short of its climate targets. Its emissions have flat-lined since 2009.
Over the past five years alone, theEnergiewendehas cost Germany €32 billion ($36 billion) annually, and opposition to renewables is growing in the German countryside.
“The politicians fear citizen resistance”Der Spiegelreports. “There is hardly a wind energy project that is not fought.”
Der Spiegelcites a recent estimate that it would cost Germany “€3.4 trillion ($3.8 trillion),” or seven times more than it spent from 2000 to 2025, to increase solar and wind three to five-fold by 2050.
Of the 7,700 new kilometers of transmission lines needed, only 8% have been built, while large-scale electricity storage remains inefficient and expensive. “A large part of the energy used is lost,” the reporters note of a much-hyped hydrogen gas project, “and the efficiency is below 40%… No viable business model can be developed from this.”
But no amount of marketing could change the poor physics of resource-intensive and land-intensive renewables. Solar farms take450times more land than nuclear plants, and wind farms take700times more land than natural gas wells, to produce the same amount of energy.
Germans, who will have spent $580 billion on renewables and related infrastructure by 2025, express great pride in the Energiewende. “It’s our gift to the world,” a renewables advocatetoldTheTimes.
Many Germans will, likeDer Spiegel, claim the renewables transition was merely “botched,” but it wasn’t. The transition to renewables was doomed because modern industrial people, no matter how Romantic they are, do not want to return to pre-modern life.