Wind and solar power just don’t do the job
Robert Zurin — National Review — May 13, 2015
On May 7, Tom Friedman published an op-ed in the New York Times filled with praise for Germany’s green-power program. “What the Germans have done in converting almost 30 percent of their electric grid to solar and wind energy from near zero in about 15 years has been a great contribution to the stability of our planet and its climate,” gushed Friedman. “ . . . This is a world-saving achievement.” Friedman is not alone in his admiration for the German energy program. President Obama has hailed it too, saying that the world should “look to Berlin” as the model for its energy future.
However, what Friedman, Obama, and other admirers of the German green-energy strategy fail to say is that it has come at the expense of sky-high electricity rates. According to EU data, Germany’s average residential electricity rate is 29.8 cents per kilowatt hour.
This is approximately double the 14.2 cents and 15.9 cents per kWh paid by residents of Germany’s neighbors Poland and France, respectively, and almost two and a half times the U.S. average of 12 cents per kWh. Germany’s industrial electricity rate of 16 cents per kWh is also much higher than France’s 9.6 cents or Poland’s 8.3 cents.
The average German per capita electricity consumption is 0.8 kilowatts. At a composite rate of 24 cents per kWh, this works out to a yearly bill of $1,700 per person, experienced either directly in utility bills or indirectly through increased costs of goods and services.
The median household income in Germany is $33,000, so if we assume an average of two people per household, the electricity cost would amount to more than 10 percent of available income. And that is for the median-income household. The amount of electricity that people need does not scale in proportion to their paychecks. For the rich, $1,700 per year in electric bills might be a pittance, or at most a nuisance. But for the poor who are just scraping by, such a burden is simply brutal. So, what has the German government accomplished for “the Earth” in exchange for the severe harm it has inflicted on the nation’s poorer citizens? (Continue reading here….)