+++ 21. Oktober 2012 +++
Rising Power Prices in Germany: Time to Revolt against the Anti-nuclear Policy
Are the Germans (and others) really surprised and shocked that electricity prices are skyrocketting? Wasn't it clear from the beginning that there would be a price to pay for the mad rush to get out of nuclear energy production, which is by far the most efficient and cleanest source of power available?
Whatever the case may be, the government announced on Oct. 15 that the renewables tax on power consumption would be raised from EU3.6 cents per kilowatt-hour to EU5.3 cents (by nearly 50%). This tax, which is supposed to finance the expansion of so-called renewable energy sources and cover the immense financial losses due to their inefficiency, was introduced some 15 months ago along with the government decree to exit from nuclear power completely.
When the Merkel government decided to immediately shut down 8 of the then existing 17 nuclear power plants shortly after the tsunami struck the nuclear complex at Fukushima in March 2011, that removed some 8.500 megawatts from Germany's energy mix. As alleged alternative sources, it then switched abruptly to the promotion of solar, wind and biomass energy, prompting a highly-speculative boom in renewables, with excessive investor expectations of short-term income that can only be covered by taxpayers' money, since the market does not cover the expenses.
Under the new energy policy, tax rebates were given to renewables producers on the one hand, while extra taxes were imposed on electricity consumers in private households on the other, and on smaller industrial firms, which unlike big industry, lack a strong lobby and therefore failed to obtain tax rebates for themselves as well.
With one year to go before the next national elections in September 2013, the government is now trying to placate voters, by promising to "review" the policy of tax rebates. If such a measure goes through, big industry will also have to pay extra taxes in the future. If so, the government runs the risk of provoking the strong opposition to its anti-nuclear policy which it was able to suppress one year ago with the tax rebates.
The rising anger in the population was addressed in Bildzeitung (Oct. 16) under the title: "Eco-Tax Rises by 47% – Energy Rage." The story as such does not offer any remedy for the disaster, which it describes as "an energy shift which is too expensive," but it does note that a kilowatt-hour now costs more than EU25 cents in Germany, while in France with its highly developed nuclear power program, the price is just under EU14 cents. In all of Europe, only Denmark tops Germany's energy consumption prices with EU29 cents per kilowatt-hour. Most of the other EU countries are way below EU20 cents, in the range of EU14-17 cents.
An opinion poll published by the EMNID Institute on Oct. 15 shows growing public discontent with the government's anti-nuclear policy: 77% of those polled said that affordable electricity prices were more important for them than the source of the power consumed. This is not yet a pro-nuclear sentiment, but only 53% of the same people are still convinced of the renewables policy, which is a weak majority... and it keeps shrinking.
The government already ran into trouble 18 months ago, when it decreed that normal gasoline had to be replaced by the biofuel mix E-10 at gas stations. For several weeks, car drivers boycotted that fuel mix, preferring to pay more for super gasoline, and eventually the government had to retract its decree, leaving it up to the gas stations to decide what to offer.
So far, protests have remained low key, but that could change quickly if a harsh winter drives electricity bills higher. Given the notorious unreliability of renewables and the fact that coal and gas plants cannot compensate for the 8.500 megawatts of nuclear-generated power taken off line, blackouts can be expected.
~ deutsch + english ~
+++ 7. Mai 2013 +++
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+++ 7. Mai 2013 +++
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+++ 7. Mai 2013 +++
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