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View Diary: Fossil Fuel Uncompetitive in Germany; Plants to Shut Down (255 comments)

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  •  So this is a function of the heavy government (9+ / 0-)

    subsidies for solar power?

    LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

    by dinotrac on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 05:34:05 PM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  well, that's one factor (18+ / 0-)

      the other is relentless public pressure over decades to commit to renewables. You could say that the public demanded that their money be used to subsidize solar energy. Unlike the U.S., where way too much tax payer money is still used to subsidize fossil fuels.

      Ecology is the new Economy => Kosonomy

      by citisven on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 05:56:41 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  That's what I was wondering... (5+ / 0-)

      If sin taxes on fossil fuels and/or government subsidies on renewables played a role in the math.  There's also the issue of base cost of fossil fuels - if they have to be transported quite a ways / through a lot of countries, that may play into the math, too.

      •  Interesting that Sin Taxes always hurt the wkg and (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Flying Goat, dinotrac, sebastianguy99

        middle class the most, as they are Regressive Taxes.

        Even more interesting that so many liberals, who should champion the working and middle-class, support Sin Taxes.

        Learn about Centrist Economics, learn about Robert Rubin's Hamilton Project. www.hamiltonproject.org

        by PatriciaVa on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 06:12:04 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yea, that's the problem I have with (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          PatriciaVa, dinotrac, Lawrence

          sin taxes.  I make an exception for sin taxes on fossil fuels, but in general, not a big fan, for exactly the reason you state.

        •  Bingo -- and that is a problem getting widespread (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          nirbama, PatriciaVa

          support behind such approaches.

          DKers are fond of believing that voters always vote against their interests, but it just ain't so.

          It's harder to figure out how to make clean and green attractive and affordable, but it's more likely to win people over whose quality of life = ability to take care of their children and provide for their future.

          Saddest of all, I believe most people want to leave the country at least as nice as they found it -- for their kids and grandkids.  Let people take care of their children at the same time they take care of their planet, and I think you'll be surprised at how many step up to do it.

          LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

          by dinotrac on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 06:41:17 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I think you could win more people over if... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            dinotrac

            ...there wasn't such hypocrisy in the movement,.

            But when you have Green Energy champions (Musk, Branson) bankroll projects to take the UltraWealthy on Carbon-Emitting Joy Rides to Space,

            ...when you have pols telling working class Americans that they may need to pay higher energy prices to "save the Earth" while these same pols take cross country trips to their states/districts every weekend....

            ...well, it's hard to take them seriously.

            I believe that many of the Dems who claim to be concerned about the Earth are more concerned about deficits.

            But since these Dems don't want to tax Ellison's wealth, via a wealth tax, they see the working and middle-class as easy marks for a Regressive energy tax.

            Learn about Centrist Economics, learn about Robert Rubin's Hamilton Project. www.hamiltonproject.org

            by PatriciaVa on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 07:51:49 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  It's tradition. (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              PatriciaVa, blueoasis

              Working and middle class don't show up at power lunches or the right cocktail parties.

              We get screwed and sold a bunch of BS about shared sacrifice, which tends to mean:

              Yeah, I know you have to give up your car and sorry about losing out on vacation and sending your kids to college, but, hey look -- we were going to the Alps this year and had to settle for Vail.

              LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

              by dinotrac on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 09:07:05 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  while I agree that income inequality (6+ / 0-)

                is a huge problem in the United States I think it's incredibly short-sighted and disingenuous to discredit the entire renewable movement because a few rich guys are having some pet project. I'm sorry to say it, but it sounds a bit like the old "Al Gore has a big mansion so climate change is bullshit" canard.

                Let's just get back to the premise of this diary which says fossil fuels are becoming uncompetitive in Germany. What this means is that if you invest enough in renewables with a long term vision they will eventually be cheaper, and thus good for low income working class people. As many have pointed out above, fossil fuels are only going to get more expensive as they get more scarce, and the bubble is going to burst.

                In the meantime, while it is a bit more expensive, you help out those who can't afford it, a la the American Care Act or food stamps. Nobody should have their lights turned off because they can't afford a few more bucks on their (renewable) energy bill. And yes, we have to work on better income equality, nobody denies that. Part of why Germans can absorb this transition is because its social policies have created a much more egalitarian society, where hardly anyone is a paycheck away from homelessness or bankruptcy.

                But let's please not pit low income people and workers against renewable energy and climate action. Guess who is taking the hardest hits from climate chaos? Well yes, people who can't afford to buy a house on the hill or rebuild after another devastating fire. People in Bangladesh or Indonesia or the Maldives who can't just hop in their yachts when sea levels rise.

                So I don't have a problem going after Elon Musk or Richard Branson and taxing the shit out of them, but let's not use those guys as proxies to discredit renewable energy wholesale, okay? Ever heard of Van Jones and Rebuild the Dream? Well, renewable energy is where all the jobs are going to be, so if you care about workers, you really should understand that while there aren't any good long-term jobs with benefits in building pipe dreams like Keystone XL, there are tons of jobs in building a new grid that will accommodate all the wind and solar projects that are already happening and yet to come.

                In Germany, jobs in the renewable energy sector have more than doubled to around 380,000 jobs since 2004. That's some real bang for your working class buck right there. So go after Musk and Branson and all the other billionaires all you want (and I'll happily join you), but please don't conflate them with an entirely new economic sector (well, not so new in Germany anymore) that is our only chance not only at survival on planet Earth but actually not doing it at the expense of the poor around the world or the American worker.  

                Ecology is the new Economy => Kosonomy

                by citisven on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 09:56:56 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  How about discrediting it because it tends to (0+ / 0-)

                  be elitist in nature?

                  How about discrediting it for complaining because ordinary citizens are unwilling to walk like lemmings over a cliff?

                  More than a few American environmentalists are too willing to accept collateral damages in the form of destroyed lives and livelihoods in the name of saving the planet.

                  Which, as George Carlin observed, is a lie.
                  The planet will be fine with us or without us. The question is whether we will survive.

                  Too many environmentalists are dong little more than trying to ensure they are the ones who come out all right.
                  That's a problem in a nation where the people you want to stuff in a corner get to vote.

                  And that, my friend, is also incredibly short-sighted.

                  LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

                  by dinotrac on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 10:22:09 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  rather than feel slighted (4+ / 0-)

                    by some generic "American environmentalists" why not join the ones who care about the environment AND social justice? Yes sure, there may be some people that fit your description but they're getting fewer and fewer. Environmentalists everywhere are realizing that you cannot separate issues of climate change and resource depletion from issues of poverty and social justice. Have you read any of the UN's platforms lately? Have you seen the alliances between groups like 350.org, Idle No More, and Labor Unions? There's a lot of great confluences happening everywhere, so why not join and help bring people together instead of feeling slighted by what some self-proclaimed "environmentalist" said somewhere. We're really all environmentalists, there's just one earth and we breathe the same air, and without it we can't do anything.  

                    Ecology is the new Economy => Kosonomy

                    by citisven on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 10:45:32 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  You assume too much. (0+ / 0-)

                      I don't join groups for much the same reason I don't join political parties, but I do keep up. When I had money, I used to donate it.

                      As to feeling slighted, I don't.

                      I think those people are self-defeating idiots for their refusal or inability to think beyond the choir.
                      I think they make my life a lot harder when I try to talk about global warming to people and why we should stop using fossil fuels.

                      But they are free to kvetch and make noise instead of progress.  Nature of the country.

                      LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

                      by dinotrac on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 11:13:45 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

            •  please don't speak for anyone (0+ / 0-)

              you aren't a spokeswoman for anyone.

        •  They work better in more egalitarian states like (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          citisven, translatorpro, wu ming

          Denmark and Germany.  Keep in mind these places have a VAT (in the form of an excise sales tax) in the neighborhood of 20%, even on food stuffs.  But millions aren't going hungry there, like they would in the US thanks to our lack of a safety net.

        •  The sin tax in the U.S. is the premature (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          citisven, ask, Australian2, Debby

          deaths and disabilities attributable to fossil fuels befouling the environment. Gee, I wonder which nation's sin tax is more destructive of the health and welfare of the poor and the middle class.

          Let the 28th Amendment be one to amend the amendment process itself. Then, perhaps, we can transform our Constitution into a living document. (Who CARES what the Founders thought of digital data gathering?)

          by WisePiper on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 10:02:54 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  depends upon the tax structure and the sin (0+ / 0-)

          tobacco does way more damage to people so the tax deters use.

          a beer tax that's cheaper then 50 year old scotch
          will tend to be progressive

        •  You know, Patricia, if you really are so (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          translatorpro, Debby, citisven

          concerned about supporting the poor and working class in the U.S. and globally, then you actually should be Germany's biggest cheerleader, because the main reason for renewables now being so cheap on a global level, often now even cheaper than fossils and nuclear is that Germany was willing to finance renewables when they were expensive and then push them to a point where they became cheap due to economies of scale and technological advances!

          Because Germans were willing to do this, the U.S. and all kinds of other countries now have access to inexpensive wind and solar power.

          Because Germans were willing to do this, people in developing and third world nations can now avoid the expensive fossil fuel/big energy trap.

          Because Germans were willing to do this, billions of poor people who are not connected to the grid and who previously had no access to electricity or only via very expensive diesel generators now can get affordable electricity and actually have light at night.

          So, since you profess to care about the little guy so much, you should be Germany's biggest cheerleader, because their foresight and global, long-term thinking as a country that could afford to finance the high initial costs of solar and wind power now has made it possible for billions to have access to affordable, clean, sustainable electricity.

          So, in light of those facts, why are you always ragging on the German push for renewables?!

          "A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle" - Mohammed Nabbous, R.I.P.

          by Lawrence on Mon Aug 19, 2013 at 04:35:56 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Hear, hear! Terrific response to this (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Lawrence, citisven

            consistent Germany-critic. Sie läßt nie ein gutes Haar an irgendetwas Deutsches...

            OT: I know you've been back awhile, but I don't see you around here much. Sending a quick Kosmail in a few minutes.

            „Wer kämpft, kann verlieren. Wer nicht kämpft, hat schon verloren.“ - Bertolt Brecht

            by translatorpro on Mon Aug 19, 2013 at 06:20:54 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  Not so much transportation. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        nextstep

        Germany isn't terribly far from the North Sea and there are significant distribution pipelines from both there and Russia.

        The issue is primarily government subsidies and the fact the Russians like to price gouge Europe as much as possible.

    •  Basically, (5+ / 0-)
      German retail power customers have already seen their bills rise by over 12 percent since the beginning of the year, with the share of renewable subsidies and other state charges in their total bill now at 50 percent.
      link

      Maybe that's the answer to some people's queries in this diary as to why we aren't doing this - I'm not sure that the average (or virtually any) American would stand for having their electric bill doubled . . . .

      •  Apparently a hot pototo in Germany: (0+ / 0-)

        LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

        by dinotrac on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 06:45:17 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  No. Americans don't have nearly that much (17+ / 0-)

        foresight. The German government, however, sees that once most of the heavy work is complete (which is why it is costing so much), prices will begin to fall dramatically. They're building for tomorrow, which most certainly is beyond the capacity of the American people, much less the American government.

        •  Bingo! (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          translatorpro

          nothing to add, well said BBB.

          Ecology is the new Economy => Kosonomy

          by citisven on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 07:47:39 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  The German elections will be interesting. (0+ / 0-)

          Germans not so happy as some in this thread might have us believe.

          LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

          by dinotrac on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 09:24:00 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Not really. Both major parties (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            citisven, translatorpro, patbahn, Debby

            support the power initiatives. It wont make any difference who wins.

            •  We'll get the chance to see soon enough. (0+ / 0-)

              Elections are only a month away.

              LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

              by dinotrac on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 09:55:26 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Germans are always unhappy (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                translatorpro, lotlizard, Debby

                no matter what. Everyone always feels like they're paying too much for everything. Believe me, I know my people, das ist einfach so. But as brooklynbadboy says, it doesn't matter who wins the election, the Energiewende will move forward, with all its trials and tribulations. Remember, the current coalition consists of Merkel's conservative CDU, the superconservative Bavarian CSU, and the Libertarian FDP. So just tell me, who is going to get elected and stop the Energiewende? Please don't say the Social Democrats and the Greens.

                Ecology is the new Economy => Kosonomy

                by citisven on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 10:05:37 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  No one, perhaps. But the Energiewende is already (0+ / 0-)

                  under attack, even with the current parties.  Nothing may come of it, but Germany set a very ambitious goal for itself and has passed the period of low-hanging fruit. It gets only harder and more expensive as you go on.

                  Personally, I prefer to have Germany spend as much on energy as it pleases.  It's not my place to hold you back.

                  LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

                  by dinotrac on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 10:14:39 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  it's an ambitious goal for sure (5+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    translatorpro, golem, patbahn, lotlizard, Debby

                    it won't get any easier and I'm not sure if it can be done 100%. But if every time a big generational policy was under attack we'd just give up, nothing would ever change. Are we giving up on Obamacare because every Republican and their grandmother is badmouthing it?

                    I don't know, when you say "I prefer to have Germany spend as much on energy as it pleases" it almost sounds like you're wishing for failure and don't want the US to invest in renewable energy. For me, as I live in the US and am a naturalized citizen, I'm going to work my ass off to try to get America on a renewable path, because really, this is not just an American problem but a full blown global crisis.

                    Ecology is the new Economy => Kosonomy

                    by citisven on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 10:31:18 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  I want the US to stop using fossil fuels (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      raoul78

                      altogether.

                      I don't want to sacrifice ordinary Americans in the process.

                      Germans pay twice as much as mainland  Americans with the highest energy costs and 4 times as much as those with the lowest.  Ordinary Germans also subsidize energy-intense industry, paying 40% more than their fair share of subsidy costs.

                      We should do better than that.

                      LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

                      by dinotrac on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 10:40:42 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  well, then let's get working (3+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        translatorpro, dinotrac, Debby

                        on doing better. I'm all for that.

                        Ecology is the new Economy => Kosonomy

                        by citisven on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 10:56:12 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Lots and lots of people are already doing that. (0+ / 0-)

                          From making fewer trips in the car to riding bicycles to using less packaging to the tiny house movement, to buying CFL (and now LED) light bulbs to efficient appliances, etc.

                          Per-capita energy us in the US has gone down about 12% since the turn of the century and is at its lowest level since the 1960s.

                          LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

                          by dinotrac on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 11:35:37 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  Yes that's great (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            translatorpro

                            the trend is going in the right direction, but I think we can still do much better. With barely 5% of the world's population, the US still consumes http://www.eia.gov/... of the world's oil. Surely that can't be final goal.

                            Ecology is the new Economy => Kosonomy

                            by citisven on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 11:59:28 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  22% of the world's oil (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            translatorpro

                            funky linking

                            Ecology is the new Economy => Kosonomy

                            by citisven on Mon Aug 19, 2013 at 12:02:53 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Does it? That sounds much too high. (0+ / 0-)

                            I know that our CO2 emissions have sunk from about 25% of the global total to 15-16%. For some reason, I thought oil consumption had taken a similar plunge.

                            I need to check that out.

                            One thing for sure -- As China and others ramp up their consumption, our percentage will fall.

                            LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

                            by dinotrac on Mon Aug 19, 2013 at 01:44:00 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Can't find current data. 20.5% as of 2010. (0+ / 0-)

                            Don't know what it is nearly 4 years later.

                            LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

                            by dinotrac on Mon Aug 19, 2013 at 01:51:00 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  the link from the (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            translatorpro

                            US Energy Information Administration I tried to post earlier says 22%, but even if it's 20% that's still 4 times the share of the population. The US is still living way too high on the hog, and while realistically it'll never consume proportionately to its share, I'd say if we could get to 10% that would be an amazing goal, especially if that 10% morphs into non fossil energy.

                            Ecology is the new Economy => Kosonomy

                            by citisven on Mon Aug 19, 2013 at 07:52:51 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  That metric isn't meaningless, but is silly when (0+ / 0-)

                            used in that way.

                            What is living too high on the hog, and compared to whom?
                            How much oil, for example, do Chinese and Indian millionaires burn?

                            China's per-capita is growing rapidly while that of the US is diminishing, but Chinese per-capita numbers are misleading in the way that Indian numbers are.

                            Or, at least, if you are going to try that silly moralizing.

                            Both countries have a relatively small population of rich and well-to-do people and large impoverished populations.
                            As oil use (driven in no small measure by automobiles) correlates to wealth, a proper measure would compare apples-to-apples, and I'll be your "living high on the hog" claim would turn out to be simple US-scolding.

                            Check this link out:
                            http://www.indexmundi.com/...

                            If its figures are correct, "high on the hog" Americans use less than 1/3 as much petroleum as the citizens of Singapore, 1/2 as much as citizens of Luxembourg,  13% less than citizens of Greenland,  and 5% less than Canadians.

                            Even those notorious scolds, the Dutch, use only about 1.5% less oil than Americans.

                            Germans do better, using only about 52% of the American total, aided, I'm sure, by the incorporation of East Germany and it's lower standard of living.

                            But -- let's go back to your premise:

                            Americans live high on the hog because they use so much oil relative to their population.
                            Germany, good green citizen that it is, still uses more than twice as much oil as it share of the population would dictate.
                            Norway, Finland, places most people would think of as "green" do worse than that.

                            For that matter, why does Hong  Kong, which is dominated by a city -- and cities tend to be more efficient than spread out populations -- use 33% more petroleum per capita than Germany, or about 3 times its share by population?

                            We need to stop using fossil fuels completely, but, good as that might be for the sustainability of our economy, it won't make much of a dent if use patterns in the rest of the world continue their current trends.

                            Seems everybody likes to live "high on the hog" when they can.  Chinese buy cars. Indians ditch their motor scooters for TaTa Nanos, etc.  We can't regulate them.  We need to get smart and make fossil fuels an inferior choice when compared to sustainable alternatives.

                            LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

                            by dinotrac on Mon Aug 19, 2013 at 08:14:54 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  all western countries (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            translatorpro

                            live too high on the hog, and China, India and other countries are trying to get there too. I can't say I blame them — since we in the west have built our strong economies on easy energy borrowed from millions of years old non-renewable fossil fuels, they want to have that easy ride too — but the math of climate change is against all of us.

                            Anyway, I'm not here trying to defend Germany or other countries against the US at all costs, which I think is what you're insinuating and why you keep digging in.

                            The climate is not going to care who did what when and whose fault it all was that the biosphere was destroyed. But I think the US could do a lot more than it currently is doing to curb its appetite for fossil fuels and set an example for the rest of the world.

                            It used to be that the US was an inspiration in innovation for the rest of the world. Not so much anymore. As it is, the gold medal for renewable energy currently goes to Germany, and no amount of relativizing (is that even a word?) from you is going to change that.

                            Anyway, you can have the last word, I gotta go to work.

                            Ecology is the new Economy => Kosonomy

                            by citisven on Mon Aug 19, 2013 at 09:56:25 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I reject what I perceive as a church-lady scolding (0+ / 0-)

                            of Americans for doing, more or less, what everybody does when they find a little money in their pockets.

                            I realize that you may not mean anything of the sort. Many do, and this is the internet so it's hard to know for sure.

                            Germany might be the renewable energy champ -- it certainly is the solar power champ.

                            Renewable energy, however, includes wind-power, hydro-electric and geothermal. Don't know if Germany leads when all sources are considered.

                            LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

                            by dinotrac on Mon Aug 19, 2013 at 10:04:49 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                      •  NOT stopping fossil fuels (0+ / 0-)

                        will sacrifice ordinary Americans.  People don't seem to get the fact that once climate change gets going, poor people are going to be the ones in a world of hurt.

                        Frankly, if Americans want to do something about the plight of the poor, the way to do that is to fix the economic system, not to delay dealing with a major emerging catastrophe.  That makes no sense

                        To hear one must listen; to listen one must be silent

                        by Guinho on Mon Aug 19, 2013 at 10:20:08 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                  •  Well, that's mighty big of you. nt (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    citisven, lotlizard

                    You might want to read my diary from one and a half years ago, live-blogging a conversation with one of Hans-Georg Fell's (a Green Party member and recognized authority on energy and renewables) about Germany's energy future. Even though it was that long ago, the vision for Germany's energy future hasn't changed. That there would be bumps in the road was clear from the beginning - the Germans are realists, if nothing else:

                    http://www.dailykos.com/...

                    „Wer kämpft, kann verlieren. Wer nicht kämpft, hat schon verloren.“ - Bertolt Brecht

                    by translatorpro on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 11:20:06 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                •  Understanding Germans (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  translatorpro, Debby, citisven

                  took me about 10 years. I've been married to one for nine.

                  But there is a way of doing things here that puts people first. IOW I find that the infrastructure is designed to help people not to maximize profit for business.  

                  German CBDs are lively. People can walk in the pedestrian zones and do their shopping and have lunch outside by the Rathaus instead of inside a boxed-in mall with artificial climate. You don't have to go everywhere in a car. Between towns there are bike paths that run alongside the highway, even if they are 30 km apart, and then there are walking trails between the small towns.  You can rent out an ebike by the hour from Deutsche Bahn if you don't want to drive in the city and there's always the bus and U-Bahn. There's good train service between most towns. There are bakeries and pharmacies on every corner along with health food stores instead of predatory lenders and 7/11s.  The houses are built to last centuries with hard tiled rooftops.  Almost everyone has good healthcare and television commercials aren't blaring on television every 10 minutes trying to sell cars, aspirin or Viagra.

                  So, it amazes me that Germans have made an art and science about complaining and then come back from their vacations to America and talk about how wonderful it is in the land where "everything is possible."   Blows my fucking mind.

          •  What are they going to do? Vote in nukes? Don't (6+ / 0-)

            think so.  There is no giant anti-green equivalent to our teabaggers in Germany, bellowing for their right to waste money and energy on incandescent light bulbs.  Much of the improvement in Germany's green energy position was done by dragging the current government, kicking and screaming.

            •  Good question. Some things, mabye. (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              raoul78, MGross

              For example, it's not just that Germans pay 40% more for electricity than the French and 15% more than the EU average, it's that ordinary rank-and-file Germans pay a disproportionate cost of the the government subsidies.

              Though households use 25% of the electricity, they pay for 35% of the subsidy while some energy-intense industries pay none whatsoever.

              Balancing that out would ease the burden on German workers, but make German industry less competitive and that could place a different burden on German workers.

              One nice thing about Germany and its parliamentary system: elections aren't so final as they are in the US.  A chancellor can be removed by a vote of no-confidence if the Bundestag gets behind a successor. Don't know what it takes to get staid and stable Germans to reach that point.

              Either way, I don't see Americans standing up and saying that we want to double and triple our electricity costs, and certainly not in the current economy.

              LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

              by dinotrac on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 10:09:37 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Why would Americans have to (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                translatorpro, citisven, Miggles

                "double and triple" electricity costs?

                Germans scaled up renewables when they were very expensive and thus caused them to become inexpensive.

                The U.S. can now just lazily step in and profit from Germans having financed the initial, expensive stage in the development of solar and wind power.

                The day and age when one could credibly argue against renewables on the basis of cost is over, mostly thanks to Germans having financed most of the early, expensive stage.

                "A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle" - Mohammed Nabbous, R.I.P.

                by Lawrence on Mon Aug 19, 2013 at 06:04:12 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Uh, no. (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Roadbed Guy

                  German RE is still wildly uneconomic without the continuing ongoing subsidies.  The (now reduced) solar feed-in tariff is $0.25/KwH which is roughly 3x (by itself) the cost of retail electricity in the United States.

                  •  That wikipedia article is outdated, as it is from (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    translatorpro

                    2012 and f.i.t. rates have dropped considerably since then.

                    Small scale, rooftop solar now stands at under 15 eurocents.

                    Large scale solar now stands at under 10 eurocents.

                    Furthermore, one has to view solar and wind in combination when talking about the cost of RE, as they are complimentary.

                    And if you look at wind, it is now often the cheapest new form of electricity production globally, including in the U.S.

                    Another analytical mistake that you are making is assuming that solar in the U.S. is going to be as expensive as it once was in Germany.  That makes little sense, as the insolation levels in the U.S. are generally far greater than in Germany, often even twice as great.

                    "A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle" - Mohammed Nabbous, R.I.P.

                    by Lawrence on Mon Aug 19, 2013 at 08:41:14 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Are the 2013 tariff rates out yet? (0+ / 0-)

                      Could you link?  I've only been able to find the 2012 ones.

                      (Anyway, tariffs appear to be locked in by when you installed the unit for 20 years, so Germany will continue to pay the higher rates on existing infrastructure for years to come.)

                      •  The solar tariffs are currently reviewed and (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        MGross

                        adjusted every 3 months or even monthly.  Here's a link to a site that shows the degression in the F.I.T. from april 2012 through 2013.

                        http://einspeiseverguetung-photovoltaik.de/

                        As you can see, the highest possible tariff paid by the end of the year will be 13.54 eurocents and the lowest 8.79 eurocents.

                        There's actually a big argument to be made that rates, after dropping too slow for some years, are now dropping too fast and that Germany won't properly profit from the now inexpensive solar systems.

                        That is probably either due to design or incompetence by the current neoliberal/conservative govt. coalition.

                        And yes, the previous, high rates are locked in for 20 years from the time that the systems went online - that's the price you pay for almost single-handedly making solar affordable for the rest of the world.

                        "A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle" - Mohammed Nabbous, R.I.P.

                        by Lawrence on Mon Aug 19, 2013 at 02:56:02 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                •  "Lazily step in"? Hardly, but... (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Lawrence

                  the combination of lower cost solar panels and new financing alternatives have led to a boom in solar generation and that's a good thing.

                  The big impediment for many homeowners was the nature of solar installations: the difference between a capital investment and an ongoing expense.

                  Some firms have stepped up with innovative approaches to financing to make that option more attractive.

                  One interesting thing -- and very interesting to me as I am preparing to live in a motorhome -- that has happened is that trailer and motorhome owners have begun buying solar panels to recharge house batteries.  We tend to recoil at the thought of RVs because we know they suck fuel when they're on the move, but, when stationary, they are a tiny house with comparatively tiny energy needs. Fill one of those tings out with LED lights and highly efficient appliances, etc, and you've got yourselve the seeming oxymoron of a green gas-gobbler.

                  Getting large scale generation is a different matter, but I remember seeing somewhere that 2/3 of all the PV panels installed around the world have been installed in the last 2.5 years.  The future's so bright we gotta wear shades.

                  LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

                  by dinotrac on Mon Aug 19, 2013 at 08:23:30 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

            •  Baden-Wüttemberg elected a Green governor (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              translatorpro, citisven, Miggles

              … and Stuttgart elected a Green mayor — in spite of the fact that Baden-Wüttemberg has traditionally had a very conservative, business-oriented culture.

              That sort of thing gets parties' attention.

              Merkel and the Christian Democrats saw the handwriting on the wall and did a 180-degree turn on German nukes.

              The Dutch kids' chorus Kinderen voor Kinderen wishes all the world's children freedom from hunger, ignorance, and war. ☮ ♥ ☺

              by lotlizard on Mon Aug 19, 2013 at 03:50:06 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Yes, although the elections in Stuttgart / (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                citisven, lotlizard

                Baden-Württemberg came at almost exactly the same time as the 180° turn... back to the energy policy that had been in place since 2002. It's not entirely clear whether the election results could have been influenced that radically so quickly (barely 2 weeks after Fukushima), but what did happen: The decision to keep the 8 reactors that were closed for maintenance at the time offline permanently came almost immediately after Fukushima and before the elections because of the incredibly loud outcry in the populace. The environmental movement is strong here in Germany, and well-organized mass protests have definitely influenced policy, unlike what some other poster claims elsewhere in this thread. Merkel & Co. had postponed the originally planned nuclear power plant shut-downs by several years (staggered up to 12 years, iirc), but then Fukushima came along and the already limited German tolerance for nuclear power went completely south. That's when she read the writing on the wall and hastily reversed course from the more utilities-friendly model she and her party had pushed through just 6 months or so before (2010).

                „Wer kämpft, kann verlieren. Wer nicht kämpft, hat schon verloren.“ - Bertolt Brecht

                by translatorpro on Mon Aug 19, 2013 at 07:27:16 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

          •  I live in Germany, and I would be (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            citisven, patbahn, Debby

            pleased if the Social Democrats and the Green Party replaced Merkel's conservative CDU and their awful coalition partner FDP (big business interests), but I can't vote here. So I don't know what you are talking about. Do you?

            „Wer kämpft, kann verlieren. Wer nicht kämpft, hat schon verloren.“ - Bertolt Brecht

            by translatorpro on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 11:15:17 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  When it comes to German politics? No. Germany (0+ / 0-)

              does sound like a very depressing place where the people have no voice in their leadership, judging from the comments in this thread.

              Kind of like the US, now that I think about it.

              LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

              by dinotrac on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 11:47:16 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Totally wrong on all counts, but (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                citisven, Debby

                if that is all you've got, I'm not going to bother getting into a ludicrous circular argument, except to say I never felt any economic crunch here - not even during the worst of the recession in 2008-2009, so they must be doing something right.

                „Wer kämpft, kann verlieren. Wer nicht kämpft, hat schon verloren.“ - Bertolt Brecht

                by translatorpro on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 11:52:06 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

    •  also a function of the lack of massive subsidies (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      citisven, translatorpro

      for fossil fuels, as per american policy.

    •  Perhaps more it's a LACK of heavy government (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      citisven, translatorpro

      subsidies for fossil fuels as we have here in the US.

    •  Plus renewable energy resources have (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      citisven, raoul78, lotlizard, Lawrence

      grid priority in Germany - that's a big factor, even though the utilities, who woke up to the realities of renewables far too late to become significant participants, are doing their damndest to put on the brakes. However, the environmental movement is very big and well-organized in Germany, and protests have stopped the construction of 16 potential coal plants before they even started. In the meantime, alternative sources grew so much that now they are close to parity (not sure of the exact figures off-hand) and are striding towards making fossil fuel and nuclear power obsolete, at least in their own country.

      There are still coal-powered plants scheduled to be built, but those are all newer, more efficient plants replacing older, dirtier ones, and they will only be producing power intermittently, when there isn't enough energy from renewables.

      I want to add that I have rarely, very rarely experienced a power outage in Germany (I've lived here for 25 years), and if they do happen, they don't last long, usually only a few minutes - unlike the US. Of course, Germany is much smaller and densely populated, so it's not directly comparable.

      „Wer kämpft, kann verlieren. Wer nicht kämpft, hat schon verloren.“ - Bertolt Brecht

      by translatorpro on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 10:55:37 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  well the feed in tariff (4+ / 0-)

      gives you a little money for every watt you sell
      to the grid.

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