Obama Flips, Germany Flops on Renewable Energy

So President Obama decided to engage in some high-profile symbolism and re-install solar panels on the White House roof (what, no windmill?), a la Jimmy Carter, and in an embarrassing reversal. Although the clumsiness of an obvious political- and panic-driven pander has caused heartburn on the Left, in a related reversal, Obama also used his weekly address to revive the risible and previously ditched claim that Germany is proof of a state successfully centrally planning the ‘green economy’.

windmills

Not to leave their man in Washington hanging, if by sheer coincidence, Germany’s Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology bought a full page ad in the weekend Wall Street Journal to further promote Obama’s plan of the U.S. adopting economically painful, environmentally meaningless ‘green economy’ laws designed to increase your electricity (and other energy) costs.

It’s almost like they are telling us to watch out for the lame-duck session.

Clumsy and unseemly though it may be, there’s also the little problem with a lack of accuracy.

Consider Obama’s thesis, as stated by the German government to open its effort:

In many countries, efforts to address climate change have been stalled by public fears that helping the environment will hurt the economy.

Germany is proof that going green is good for business.

It is no such thing. Germany is instead trying to get the U.S. to follow suit (even if Obama doesn’t realize whose pocket he is in, striving to bail out struggling European wind and solar bubble-businesses). This puffery also ignores that the same government, like Spain, France, the UK, and so on, has had to cut the subsidies which drain the treasury but on which these supposedly economically beneficial industries depend for their existence, causing whelps of terror that this mere haircut could spell their imminent demise. And we are to pin our economic future on this disastrous model.

Spain’s experience is by now level ground in this space, so here’s what some German academics and industry experts found in November after President Obama last bragged on the mythical German wirtschaftswunder:

[A]lthough Germany’s promotion of renewable energies is commonly portrayed in the media as setting a ‘shining example in providing a harvest for the world’ (The Guardian 2007), we would instead regard the country’s experience as a cautionary tale of massively expensive environmental and energy policy that is devoid of economic and environmental benefits.

Ach du lieber. However, and revealing ever more the absence of a defensible argument for their thesis, the German government’s newfound defense of the boondoggle couldn’t even stick to its argument. Instead, after wading around in that business about the economic wisdom of green mandates it then leaps to a curious non sequitor, quoting a U.S. academic’s praise that “What Germany has managed to do is drastically reduce energy intensity…Energy use has been decoupled from productivity.”

That’s odd for several reasons including that the piece is titled “Country counts on renewable energy as a driver of its economic growth” (explaining the effort to sell the U.S. on passing a law that would have us buying their stuff). So energy is driving Germany’s growth, except when it isn’t. Or something.

What they must mean is that making the contraptions is now what their economy depends on — thanks to a political bet on loser technology, leaving them desperate for Uncle Sucker to bail them out, which effort is the obvious point of Germany lending Obama a hand.

But there’s another lesson here worth learning: Germany’s law which created the model that Obama wants to impose on us with a similar law actually didn’t do what they’re boasting about with some dodgy logic.

The Energy Information Agency (EIA) data for such a comparison does only goes back to German reunification in 1991 (found here, using market exchange rates, because that’s what our UN IPCC pals use).

From these figures we see that from 1991-2006, Germany reduced its energy intensity over from 8,809 British Thermal Units (Btu) per dollar of GDP (in 2000 USD) to 7,260 Btu. That is a 17.5% drop.

Over the same period, U.S. energy intensity dropped 25.8%.

Despite the article alternately implying that this miracle occurred as a result of a decision decades ago, and a windmill and solar panel law passed in 2000, we do know that at least since reunification nearly twenty years ago the improvement has been a steady one. In fact, that is what developed economies do. There’s much less to the claim than meets the eye. In addition to the fact that our wretchedly flawed country which must learn from theirs has actually done it much better.

But since Obama’s point is to argue for U.S. adoption of the 2000 German law, we ought to at least point out that it has actually had no apparent impact on Germany’s energy intensity. It dropped 14.75% in the decade before the fetishized windmill/solar panel law, and 3.3% in the six years after it.

Over the same periods U.S. energy intensity dropped 15.4% for the decade 1991-2000 and 12.3% for the period 2000-2006. Without the economic harm described by the German researchers, above. And we’re the bad guy who needs to do what the other guy’s harming himself by doing, too.

So the lesson from the past few days’ pander, after looking at the facts, is that President Obama is seeking to fundamentally transform America, using failed, expensive policies of Europe’s social democracies as his models. Toward his political end he is rebranding central planning as the ‘green economy’, and he and his Doppelgangers make claim after implication after assertion that simply do not survive scrutiny. They’re not only unsupportable, but what he and his enablers claim has time and time and time again has proven to be the opposite of reality.

America deserves better.

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