September 22, 2008
Does More Renewable Energy Equal Less Emissions?
Not in Europe it doesn't, according to this article in Der Spiegel (thanks RG and BP for the link):
Germany's renewable energy companies are a tremendous success story. Roughly 15 percent of the country's electricity comes from solar, wind or biomass facilities, almost 250,000 jobs have been created and the net worth of the business is €35 billion per year.
But there's a catch: The climate hasn't in fact profited from these developments. As astonishing as it may sound, the new wind turbines and solar cells haven't prohibited the emission of even a single gram of CO2.
How can this be and why aren't people complaining? According to Der Spiegel:
Even more surprising, the European Union's own climate change policies, touted as the most progressive in the world, are to blame. The EU-wide emissions trading system determines the total amount of CO2 that can be emitted by power companies and industries. And this amount doesn't change -- no matter how many wind turbines are erected.
Experts have known about this situation for some time, but it still isn't widely known to the public. Even Germany's government officials mention it only under their breath. No one wants to discuss the political ramifications.
It's a sensitive subject: Germany is recognized worldwide as a leader in all things related to renewable energy. The environmental energy sector doesn't want this image to be tarnished. Under no circumstances does Berlin want the Renewable Energy Law (EEG) -- which mandates the prices at which energy companies have to buy green power -- to fall into disrepute.
At the same time, big energy companies have an interest in maintaining the status quo. As a result, no one is pushing for change. Everyone involved is remaining silent.