Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Taking a look at how green energy is working in Europe and America

As the United States grapples with conflicting ideas about whether and to what extent man causes global climate change, the zealous movement to do away with using fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas to produce electricity and switch to “green” sources like wind and solar energy goes forward, full speed ahead.

Far ahead of the U.S. in this campaign are some nations in Europe that some policymakers tout as having adopted smart energy policy. They think the U.S. should follow the lead of countries like Germany and Spain and more heavily subsidize renewable energies like wind, solar, biomass, etc. and tax fossil fuel users more heavily.

Now that Europe’s green energy policies have been in place for several years, a look to see how they have worked might help us decide whether this is a good plan for the U.S. to follow.

From Canadafreepress,com comes information about Germany’s energy policies. The news here is not so good; green energy policies are driving up energy prices and forcing hundreds of thousands of people into energy poverty. Specifically, a study of Germany’s experiences found:
  • Residential German electricity prices are nearly three times higher than electricity prices in the U.S. 
  • As many as 800,000 Germans have had their power cut off because of an inability to pay for rising energy costs. 
  • Germany’s feed-in tariff scheme provides lavish subsidies to renewable energy producers. 
  • On-shore wind has required feed-in tariffs that are in excess of 300 percent higher than market prices. 
  • Germany’s Renewable Energy Levy, which subsidizes renewable energy production, cost German households $9.6 billion in 2013. 
  • The cost to expand transmission networks to integrate renewables stands at $33.6 billion, which grid operators say accounts “for only a fraction of the cost of the energy transition.”

Information from the Institute for Energy Research produced some data on the effects of Spain’s push for green energy that began in 1994. The program involved tariffs, quotas and subsidies, and has earned kudos from international leaders, including President Barack Obama.

The Spaniards have seen increases in electricity rates from 2005 to 2011 of 92 percent for domestic users and 78 percent for industrial users, while during that same period the U.S. saw rate increases of 24 percent for domestic users and19 percent for industrial users from fossil fuel produced electricity.

Here is a comparison of Spanish and American rates per kilowatt-hour:
  • Spain – Domestic $29.46 and Industrial $14.84 
  • U.S. - Domestic $11.69 and Industrial $6.81.

While prices were increasing in Spain the level of carbon dioxide actually rose, rather than declining, increasing 34.5 percent from 1994 to 2011. As a result of this the Spanish government confessed in 2012 that it can’t afford to continue subsidizing green energy.

Meanwhile, the French energy and environment minister, Segolene Royal, who was appointed to the position last spring, plans to create 100,000 jobs by 2017 with her green energy growth initiative. She wants to reduce France’s 75 percent reliance on nuclear energy for electricity production to 50 percent by 2025 by investing in wind, solar, biomass and marine energy sources. She also plans to help 500,000 low-income families add insulation to their homes.

Writing on Erika Johnsen points out that to accomplish these high-minded goals France will have to throw “gobs and gobs of money” into the mix through subsidies, tax credits and/or consumer quotas, which inevitably end up being paid by consumers through higher prices, higher taxes, or increasing France’s national debt, which is already a serious problem. The French economy is weak, much weaker than Germany’s, and we have already seen what happened in that grand green experiment.

In apparent ignorance of these horrid experiences from our European brothers and sisters, the ideologically blinded Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is driving the U.S. toward green energy use. The EPA does this not through the natural evolution of increased efficiency and value of green energies that gradually supplant older and dirtier fuels, but by punishing the existing producers of the major fuel sources of coal and natural gas that account for 66 percent of our electricity production.

This approach is responsible for killing jobs and harming local economies, and producing higher prices for consumers as the EPA goes merrily along, oblivious to the destruction in its wake, and to the misery the thoughtless drive for green energy has produced for Spain and Germany.

The administration’s “feel-good” emotional support for three risky green companies cost three-quarters of a billion taxpayer dollars. Solar energy companies Solyndra and Abound Solar wasted $529 million and $70 million respectively, and last December hybrid carmaker Fisker Automotive filed for bankruptcy adding another $139 million to the tab.

And now climatologist John L. Casey warns of a shift in global climate, a cold spell to last 30 years, and it has absolutely nothing to do with carbon dioxide emissions. It’s due to the sun. “All you have to do is trust natural cycles, and follow the facts; and that leads you to the inevitable conclusion that the sun controls the climate, and that a new cold era has begun," he said.

Perhaps the EPA will forsake the “green fantasy” in favor of reality.

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