Germany, being the staunch advocate of climate change and global warming it is like much of the EU prided itself on being the "world champion” of solar power. They doled out billions of marks on subsidies for consumers and businesses to go solar to reduce Germany's carbon footprint in response to the 'settled science' propaganda pushed by the global warming cult.
Germans used that money to install a solar capacity of 7.5 gigawatts last year. And warum nicht, if Big Government was paying for it and Al Gore and the UN said it was just what they should be doing?
Actually, Big Government wasn't paying for all of it, as it turns out. Solar power users were allowed to receive a guaranteed above-market price for the electricity they sold back to energy grid which was financed by - surprise!- a tax on every household's electricity bill. That alone amounted last year to a subsidy of some €6 billion ($7.9 billion), which is estimated to add at least an average of $260 to German consumer's annual energy costs.
The German government, after going over the figures, has decided to pull the plug on solar subsidies. They will cut them at least 30% this year and phase them out entirely within five years. Given how much it has cost the German government, I wouldn't be surprised to see them gone entirely before the end of 2013, and that's only because of the unemployment entailed as German companies who went into solar technology to take advantage of the government-funded 'sunshine rush' lay off workers or go bust.
This particular green energy scam hit Germans in the pocketbook in various ways.
One of the chief problems with solar for a high wage country like Germany is the cost of manufacturing solar panels and installing them. This was something Big Government was subsidizing in the name of green jobs. Unfortunately, the solar panels can be manufactured far cheaper in China, so every one of those 'green jobs' ended up costing German taxpayers an average of $175,000. And as we've seen elsewhere, China is not exactly overly concerned about things like pollution, 'carbon footprints' or 'global warming'. Think of it as another huge Solyndra.
Germany's climate, like most of Northern Europe's is not exactly the sunniest in the world. That's particularly true in the winter, when energy use peaks because of heating costs. When the winter days are short and the weather is overcast, Germany's solar power investment generates hardly anything - which means the Germans have to import traditional energy from power plants, some of them coal powered, in places like France, Poland and the Czech Republic. Not only that, but because the EU instituted the cap n' trade nonsense President Obama tried to have his EPA impose here, what the whole program has amounted to is a transfer of wealth to poorer EU countries:
Indeed, despite the massive investment, solar power accounts for only about 0.3 percent 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 8 million metric tons—or about 1 percent – for the next 20 years. 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.
It gets worse: Because Germany is part of the European Union Emissions Trading System, the actual effect of extra solar panels in Germany leads to no CO2 reductions, because total emissions are already capped. Instead, the Germans simply allow other parts of the EU to emit more CO2. Germany’s solar panels have only made it cheaper for Portugal or Greece to use coal.
Solar energy can be a good idea in places that it was better designed to work, especially with active systems that capture the excess energy for use when the sun doesn't shine. Israel in particular has made massive strides in both the technology used to capture the energy and in manufacturing the panels more efficiently. There are even solar generators that can be used as an emergency backup in case of power failures. But having government subsidize it in the name of Holy Gaia and climate change has turned out to be a spectacularly bad idea in Germany and everywhere else it's been tried.
Remember this cautionary tale when you hear President Obama mouthing off about energy in his quest for re-election. There's no doubt if he gets back in, we'll seen even more of our wealth squandered on green energy scams like Solyndra run by his donors and cronies.