Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Who to believe

What is it with the Guardian? Their chief economic leader writer read Modern History, as did their economics editor. Now another history graduate, Zoe Williams, thinks she's solved the problem of unaffordable energy - hyper-local renewable power.
Feldheim, in Germany, is the most evolved example of this in Europe, and possibly in the world: it powers itself entirely on wind, solar and biogas. All the financial investment is from the villagers, of whom there are 150. The numbers are slightly messed up now by its massive eco-tourist trade, but this much is clear: when you are a stakeholder you pay less and you use less.
As Tim Worstall notes, this would seem to reverse the usual relationship between price and consumption - if it's true.

The thing is, of course, that it really doesn't seem to be. Energy prices in Germany are the highest in the EU, largely thanks to the enormous subsidies that their renewable sector requires. Places like Feldheim and Wildpoldsreid are able to create an over-sufficiency in renewable generation, because the subsidies paid both by energy consumers and general taxpayers make it artificially profitable. Estimates of the cost of the Energiewende are estimated to run as high as €1tn.

You may approve of renewable energy, for all sorts of reasons, but if you are being serious you have to acknowledge that, at the moment, renewable power generation costs more than non-renewable. This is true whether the power stations or wind turbines are owned by a mean old corporation, or kindly old Frau Whatsit.


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