Industrial scale solar.

If Germany can do it, why cant we?

It is true that Germany has committed itself more than any other country to the goal of running the bulk of their electric grid on wind and solar energy within the next few decades. There’s a lot of understandable enthusiasm and excitement about this effort. But it’s important to be clear about what is actually being achieved and what is not. Germany can rightfully boast that 25% of its electricity now comes from renewable sources. However, half of that renewable comes from hydroelectric dams and the burning of biomass, neither of which can really be considered environmentally responsible sources of energy. It’s a common misconception that renewable energy statistics refer only to wind and solar. In reality, the vast majority of so-called renewable energy in almost every country is actually hydroelectric.

After 20 years of intense effort in building out its wind and solar capacity, with enormous and ultimately unsustainable government subsidies, Germany now gets about 5% of its electricity from solar and a little over 7% from wind – this according to German government statistics. These are extraordinary achievements to be sure, but they are not at the level advertised by many well-respected environmental leaders like Bobby Kennedy, Jr. and Bill McKibben who’ve made very public claims that Germany is now getting 50% of its electricity from solar energy, when it is not. What’s worse is that all of Germany’s gains in reducing CO2 emissions via wind and solar are being undone by their determination to shut down all of their nuclear plants, which until recently provided 18% of their electricity – while emitting no CO2. Right now, Germany continues to build new coal plants that burn the dirtiest coal on Earth (lignite) and their CO2 emissionsare on the rise. Few would fault Germany for it’s bold attempt to decarbonize its electric grid with wind and solar energy. But thus far their experience proves how very difficult it is to reduce CO2 emissions with wind and solar alone.