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Germany’s Greens help the coal industry, while the US cut emissions by ignoring the greens

Posted By Joanne Nova On January 12, 2014 @ 1:44 pm In Global Warming | Comments Disabled

Oh the dilemma. German Greens have been so “successful” that coal use is rising fast. They helped get rid of the nukes in 2011, punished coal, and subsidized “renewables”. But woe…. energy has to come from somewhere, so the paradoxical crunch comes. Green policies mean that everyone is poorer, but the cheapest energy comes from coal …

The coal industry must be praying for more Green activism:

“IT’S been a black Christmas for green thinkers as Germany, the world leader in rooftop solar and pride of the renewable energy revolution has confirmed its rapid return to coal.

After scrapping nuclear power, Germany’s carbon dioxide emissions are back on the rise as the country clamours to reopen some of the dirtiest brown coalmines that have been closed since the reunification of east and west. The Australian

Though some say the problem is “carbon credits” are too cheap. (We need to be poorer?)

“…new figures show that coal power output in 2013 reached its highest level in more than 20 years. Researchers blame cheap CO2 emissions permits, and demand urgent reforms.

The stats: Germany is using almost as much coal as it did in 1990:

In 1990, Germany’s brown coal-fired power stations produced almost 171 billion kilowatt hours of power.

In 2013, it rose to 162 billion kilowatt hours…

So much money and so little achieved:

In 2014, the surcharge on electricity bills will provide some €23.5 billion of subsidies for renewable energies. A four-person household will pay a surcharge of almost €220 this year.Speigel

It’s the dirtiest kind of coal increasing the most:

Germany’s switch to renewable energies is proving surprisingly good for brown coal as the use of it surged to a new high in 2013. Environmentalists are fuming and claim Germany’s clean energy image is sullied.

The share of German electricity generated from environmentally dirty brown coal rose 6.5 percent year-on-year in 2013…  DW

UPDATE: TonyfromOz in comments points out that “dirty coal” is not so dirty if used in the newest hotter coal fired stations. See his comment below.

DW goes on to say that brown coal produces about 25% of German electricity. Combined with hard coal, it amounts to 45% of the total electricity. The reason coal is so popular is because coal is cheap and (oh the irony) because of the Green anti-nuclear stance.

“Energy experts said the gain in the use of pollutant coal was the result of a German policy aiming to phase out nuclear energy by 2022 and promoting the use of renewable forms of energy.” DW

A wicked thought just occurred to me: Big-gas companies like Shell have been sponsoring green NGO’s for decades (they bankrolled WWF from its inception, for instance). They like renewables activists (Big-Gas loves windfarms, because they need standby gas power). Imagine if coal companies were helping to sponsor anti-nuclear Greens. Two wings of the fossil fuel industry sponsoring competing activists? And none of them sponsoring skeptics? Greens, the useful idiots for every occasion? No. Surely not…

Getting back to the point:

China, meanwhile, last year approved new coal production of more than 100 million tonnes and has plans to add another 860 million tonnes by 2015.

India is set to follow China, and the IEA says coal is the fossil fuel nearly everybody wants.

In its medium-term coal outlook published last month the IEA said rising demand for coal was the “never-ending story”. In short, “coal once again exhibited the largest demand growth of all fossil fuels in 2012″, the IEA said. Despite rising demand, the world remains awash with coal, meaning in many places lower prices have pushed out gas, which is considered to be a cleaner source of energy.

Real free markets beat fakes even when they aren’t trying

The nub of the matter is that the EU spent three times as much on renewables subsidies as the US did, and had a forced “free market” in carbon emissions–but emissions are rising and coal use is increasing. In contrast, the US allowed the free market some actual freedom, and found the solution to reducing emissions:

The divergence [between the US and Europe] has come about largely because while Europe has pushed headlong into renewables with generous public subsidies, the US has harnessed new technology to unlock vast resources of unconventional oil and gas.

This meant in 2012 the US spent about one-third as much as the EU on renewable energy subsidies, $21 billion against $57bn, according to IEA figures.

It’s no accident that electricity in Germany costs almost twice as much as the US.  According to The Australian, in Australia electricity costs even more than twice as much as in the USA. So Australia is the largest coal exporter in the world, but pays 20c a KWhr for domestic industrial power–a civilization bent on slow suicide?

No wonder Ron Boswell says we should dump the Renewable Energy Target. The Australian government must get the spine to take on the irrational green dogma, not just tweak a pointless scheme. At the moment the plan is just to get the Renewable Energy Target back to 20% — it rose above that because the target was fixed in GW not in percentages and (could it be a coincidence) Australian electricity use is falling for the first time in 50 years. It is  partly due to solar PV use, but also because Australian manufacturing is in decline (perhaps in part due to the higher price of electricity, but also due to the high Australian dollar and industrial relations problems).

Graham Lloyd, environmental correspondent, does a good job in The Australian, (paywalled). This is a debate the country desperately needs.

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Donna La Framboise could use some help, use the donate button on her site also if you haven’t already bought her latest book, or the famous book before that, why not buy them too? (Not only do you get great books, but they’re tax deductible for some …) h/t WattsUp

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