“Last year, we were cut off in February. This year we may not be spending Christmas. Hans Kugel is very bitter. Already strangled by the sharp rise in rents, he who lives with his wife and two children in a small three-room apartment in the district of Marzahn, in Berlin, anguish of having to endure a new episode of “this dirty life without light, without heating, no fridge… ”, given the current explosion in energy prices. The term “Stromarmut”, poverty in electric current, has burst in recent days in the public debate across the Rhine. Like the Kugel family, some 600,000 households had their juice cut off last year. “We fear that this already huge figure will be greatly exceeded this year,” said Ulrich Schneider, secretary general of the organization which oversees more than a hundred charitable and humanitarian associations in the country, the Deutscher Paritätische Gesamtverband.
An overpriced kilowatt / hour
The consumer organization VZBV and the federation of tenants DMB have decided to publicly alert SPD, Greens and Liberals (FDP), gathered to negotiate the formation of a future coalition government. They call for emergency measures for “the prohibition of power or gas cuts to the most disadvantaged and a freeze on rental charges”. The disaster of electricity poverty in the euro zone’s largest economy has a systemic dimension. German citizens pay the most expensive electricity in Europe, at more than 31 euro cents on average per kilowatt / hour – almost double the regulated tariff of EDF.
The “energy turning point” (Energie Wende) was originally aimed much more at supporting the phase-out of nuclear power decided in 2011, following the Fukushima disaster, than at reducing CO2 emissions. Private nuclear operators, which represented around 25% of the electricity mix at the start of the 2010s, will have to disconnect their last reactors by the end of next year.
This “turning point” rests exclusively on the shoulders of individuals. Renewable energies are heavily subsidized through an eco-tax levied on their electricity bill. The DAX 40 champions on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange and large industrial clients escape it, under the guise that they would lose too much competitiveness. “It’s not just unfair. It is becoming untenable, ”says Ulrich Schneider indignantly. He notes in front of the cameras of the public television channel ARD that new increases in the so-called green tax will increase the price of electricity by 7% on January 1 and pleads for large exempt electricity consumers to be “finally put contribution ”.
This model becomes all the more socially unbearable as its ecological benefit is not there. On the contrary. Germany remains a powerful greenhouse gas blower. According to the daily report established by the Danish NGO Tomorrow, it emitted on November 3 some 440 grams of CO2 per kilowatt / hour. Only Poland, whose electricity mix is very addicted to coal, does worse in Europe (710 g). France, with only 101 grams, has a formidable advantage with its public network of atomic power stations which produce very low-carbon energy.
A boon for traders
The reason for this German underperformance is simple: wind turbines and solar power are by definition intermittent. When the wind drops or the sun hides, there is no more juice. It is therefore necessary to permanently add controllable energy sources to them in order to maintain the essential balance between current supply and demand and to avoid untimely blackouts. However, on the German controllable electricity market, the most competitive operators today operate with lignite (world record holder for CO2 emissions), hard coal, diesel and natural gas. Thus this apparent paradox: Germany, which has one of the highest densities of renewables in Europe, is at the same time one of the biggest emitters of CO2.
Market and anti-nuclear dogma combine their effects in the emergence of this ecological imposture. The massive use of biomass, the third largest supplier of renewable energy, is a striking illustration. Huge agro-industrial estates function like real “electricians”. They supply hundreds of methanisers which produce gas from plant waste or animal excreta. Dung from milk factories (up to more than 3,000 cows per unit) is mixed with Energiemais (energy corn). Which is intensively cultivated because it is the ideal raw material for the compost required to emit as much methane as possible.
For financial traders, the “renewable” label of this biomass is a godsend. They got their hands on huge land from which they draw a sumptuous income thanks to the prices guaranteed by the ecotax. Almost a million hectares of “energy corn” are planted. In total, the production of gasoline and so-called organic gas monopolizes, according to a very official study (1), “a fifth of arable land”. At the expense of food. As for methane, a very large emitter of CO2, by burning it further deteriorates Germany’s performance against global warming.