Germany’s Cost of Going “Green”

Germany is moving decisively to eliminate coal-fired plants as a source for its economy’s energy.

Germany has already banned nuclear power, which was a singularly stupid thing to do—that source of energy already had no CO2 emissions. Nevertheless, the destruction of that industry already is ongoingly expensive.

Merkel’s decision in 2011 to dump nuclear energy by 2022 and to accelerate the build-out of renewable sources such as wind and solar power is already costing them €27 billion [$31.8 billion] each year in the form of a renewable-energy tax.

Despite that, Germany’s Commission on Growth, Structural Change and Employment has laid out the requirement, and the Merkel government seems willing to take it up.

[T]he coal commission advised the government to pay around €50 billion [$57 billion] to the three regions hit by the shutdown of lignite mines to make sure new jobs are created. It also recommended that the government should pay €32 billion [$36.5 billon] to compensate consumers and business for higher electricity prices [annually] and an unspecified amount to indemnify coal power plant operators for the lost value of their assets.

That’s just the inner bound of the cost of “green.”  With black coal mining already shut down—at a cost of €240 billion ($273.7 billion)—this will put coal-fired energy plants out of business.  It’s not just the immediate coal-based energy industry that will suffer.

Biblis, in the Hesse State, used to have a nuclear power plant.  The closure of that plant cost the city 50% of its corporate tax base.  That cascades up the political jurisdiction hierarchy and across the nation.  The increased cost of energy also is hammering German industries that are users, not producers, of energy.

Manufacturing companies, from chemicals maker BASF to carbon fiber producer SGL Carbon, have shifted investments abroad, where energy costs are often a fraction of Germany’s.

Consumers have to pay the higher energy prices, too, and that’s money they can’t spend on other goods and services—which hurts producers of those other goods and services.  All of that is lost revenue for Government, and it’s lost jobs and German prosperity.

What’s the value of changing energy sources if the energy becomes prohibitively expensive and so stunts economic growth and development?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *