Florian Bamberg Anti-Renewable Propaganda Blog

Florian Bamberg has started a new blog titled “Energy in Germany” where he spreads some standard anti-renewable propaganda talking points in his first post.

He writes:

In fact, German politicians are pondering about switching from feed-in tariffs to the utilities having to source certain portions of their electricity from renewable power.

That is not true. The German government just decided to reject the proposals for ditching the successful Law on Priority for Renewable Energy and introduce a renewable portfolio standard instead. The only political party supporting this is the FDP, which may or may not clear barely 5% in the next elections and survive (I sure hope they don’t), but who have no chance whatsoever to actually get a majority for this policy.

He writes:

Germany had been subsidising its solar power recklessly. Especially after political leader Angela Merkel euphorically announced the nuclear phase-out and subsequent transformation of the energy system in May 2011, feed-in tariffs for solar power had been given a substantial rise.

Never in the history of the feed-in tariff system there has been a rise for solar. The tariffs only went down, as well as the costs. The reduction in 2011 was 13%, automatically induced by high installation records in 2010.

Even the anti-renewable losers at INSM don’t use this kind of talking point that is refuted with one link to Wikipedia.

He writes:

Soon, Angela Merkel was facing a severe backlash – by the energy intensive industry which was faced with severely mounting production costs, by the lesser partner in her coalition and by consumer groups.

Actually, the energy intensive industry is largely exempt from the surcharges. They pay 0.05 cents per kWh, regardless of the burden on other users. In contrast, they profit from the falling wholesale price for electricity caused by the merit order effect.

He writes:

Taking into account that crisis-ridden European countries like Spain and Italy have also been cutting down their solar budgets, it’s easy to explain why German developers of solar parks and producers of solar panels have been folding one after another. Even for comparatively resilient companies like Solarworld, the stock value is plummeting. The subsidies that everybody had to pay through energy bills lead to exactly nothing. They were and still are an utter waste of money.

He gets this half right. Indeed, solar panel makers in Germany as well as in the United States are losing out to the competition in China.

However, the feed-in tariff law is not a subsidy in the first place, and it is certainly not one for industrial policy purposes. Article 1 of the Law on Priority for Renewable Energy gives four purposes, none of them supporting German solar panel manufacturers.

For the record, these are: Achieving a sustainable energy supply in the interest of climate protection, reducing the economic cost of the energy supply by including external costs, leave more of the fossil energy reserves for the future, and support the development of renewable energy technology.

I think that all of the above has been achieved. The law has been a resounding success. But the most important success is the fact that even people like Bamberg and the INSM losers will be forced to acknowledge, which is the radical reduction of solar PV prices made possible by the mass production under this system.

That ebbing tide lifts the boats everywhere.

Update: Bamberg kindly answers in a comment to this post.

Published by kflenz

Professor at Aoyama Gakuin University, Tokyo. Author of Lenz Blog (since 2003, lenzblog.com).

5 thoughts on “Florian Bamberg Anti-Renewable Propaganda Blog

  1. Dear Mr. Lenz,

    thank you for your thorough review of my post. However, I think some clarifications should be made:

    1. It is mostly the FPD considering a model where utilities would have to source certain portions of their power from renewables. However, others came forward with this proposal as well, like Bavarian economy minister Zeil (CSU): http://www.stmwivt.bayern.de/presseinfo/pressearchiv/2012/10/pm556.html

    Also, the anti-monopoly regulator Bundeskartellamt likes to bring it forward, as well as parts of the industry.

    Don’t get me wrong, I do not say that this model is the solution (it might seriously hamper the renewables). And before the elections, no radical changes are due to come. But who knows what happens after autumn 2013?

    2. I was unclear about that. The tariffs did not rise, but due to new facilities being built, the costs did. Even those in favour of solar power admit that: http://www.ibc-blog.de/2012/01/wie-hoch-sind-die-kosten-der-solarstromforderung-wirklich/

    3. The “development of a renewable energy technology” sounds to me pretty much like helping solar manufacturers on their feet. After all, you need to make the production of the technology feasible in an economic setting.

    Cheers

    Florian Bamberg

    Like

    1. 1. You might also throw in the Expert Council on Economy, which also wants a renewable portfolio standard (with one member dissenting) in its latest publication. However, while there are of course some politicians supporting this, there is no chance for a political majority.

      It is correct that we don’t know what happens after the next election. I personally hope the FDP gets eliminated this time, though I have always voted for them.

      Actually, getting a renewable portfolio standard on top of the EEG might be progress, especially for solar, which will reach its cap of 52 GW in a couple of years.

      2. Of course the costs rise with added capacity. On the other hand, the surcharges now rise only by 0.035 cents per GW of added solar, since prices have gone down so much.

      3. “Development of technology” does mean developing industry, but that does not necessarily mean “German industry”. If that was the purpose, paying directly to the companies involved in one way or other (as China does) would be effective, but a feed-in tariff is not, as long as it has no local content rules, which would be illegal under WTO law.

      Like

    1. As long as we agree that they don’t have a reason to complain, I don’t mind conceding that they might have complained anyway.

      Like

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