We cannot do without it

Wednesday, 17 July, 2013 - 13:15

Offshore wind power is making household electricity expensive, warn consumer protection groups. Without offshore there will be no energy transition, says the offshore sector in response.

The German word “energiewende” has long been taken up internationally now, just as the word “kindergarten“ has. Three things are meant by the energiewende: firstly, stopping the use of fossil fuels that emit CO2 in the long term and the expansion of renewables; secondly, doing away with nuclear power; and thirdly, the setting up of “intelligent” grids and users.
At least this is what is widely understood by it amongst German politicians and public opinion. But obviously this cannot simply be assumed to be true globally. China, for example, does not speak of “renewable”, but of “CO2-free”. As a consequence, nuclear power there has the same status as wind and solar power.
Until now, offshore wind power had not been questioned as a pillar – maybe even the strongest one – of the energy transition in Germany. In the other countries bordering the North Sea the use of offshore winds has a similar importance, depending on the characteristics of the coast, although the energy transition concept does not involve as much ideology as in Germany. The UK, for example, is strongly supporting the offshore wind power sector to fulfil its self-commitment to climate protection.

Consumer protection groups want a slow-down
Although the expansion of offshore wind power in ­Germany has faced delays of several years, until recently nobody called it into question. This has now changed; offshore wind power is facing strong opposition. The heavy guns are not, as one might initially expect, being positioned by nature and animal protection campaigners, but by consumer protection groups. Especially the Federation of German Consumer Organisations (vzbv) has launched a high-calibre offensive which is certainly having an effect. But the vzbv will not be successful. When you look more closely at offshore turbines you see that they are an indispensible part of the energy transition.
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You can read the complete article writen by Jörn Iken
in the latest issue of OFFSHORE WIND INDUSTRY.

 

COMMENT

You’ve really got to wonder. The Federation of ­German Consumer Organisations in the form of the Head of Construction, Energy and the ­Environment, Holger Krawinkel, swings its axe vigorously against wind and solar power in general and specifically against offshore wind power. Its criticism of the new energy sources can be summed up in three words: all too expensive. Well, obviously, for a lobbying group the lobby interest is the measure of ­all things.

Basically Krawinkel is demanding that we should largely do without the expensive energy sources of wind and solar power. But the big question mark: what, if not solar and wind power electricity, should take on supplying energy in the future, 600 TWh a year, after all? Why doesn’t the consumer advocate mention the development and handling costs of nuclear power? Why should there be no economies of scale just in offshore wind power, that is falling prices during the transition to large-scale production, when it is present throughout the whole of technical development history?

Not a word on all of this, but a finger pointed at the EEG levy. It is at the scale of one or two additional fill-ups at the petrol station, to think in terms of the fossil fuel age for a moment. It raises the suspicion that ideologically formed positions are dominant at the Federation of German ­Consumer Organisations and amongst its department heads. Nothing would be left of the energy transition if these forces had their way.

Jörn Iken
 

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