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Germany plans 20% wind power by 2020

_41640046_geturbincloseup203_1Not only has Germany decided to phase out all nuclear power plants, the German government has committed to 20% wind power by 2020 as part of meeting the Kyoto Protocol.  They aim for 28,000 megawatts of power from onshore windfarms and 20,000 megawatts of power from offshore windfarms in the Baltic and North Sea.  Why 20%?  Wind power has the terrific advantages of not generating emissions or toxic waste, but it does have some drawbacks - it's expensive and it's unpredictable.

Germany's energy agency says this will cost 1.1bn euros ($1.4bn; £750m) or an extra 17 euros a year for each household.  Or more. [E]nergy specialist Professor Wolfgang Pfaffenberger, of Bremen International University, says these figures are too low and it will be domestic customers who will foot the bill.

"It is a big problem for industrial users to pay these extra prices because other countries have cheaper energy. To keep the jobs here, and stop businesses from leaving, more of the costs will be pushed to the domestic sector."

Valid concerns, but what about the big picture?  80% of power is going to come from other sources, and one would hope there are plans to extract at least some of that power from predictable areas such as geothermal and solar.  Sure, wind power is expensive now.  But reduced emissions will lead to reduced health care expenses, less pollution-related infrastructure damage, and other related savings.  It's a complicated web and overfocusing on one aspect leads to paralysis.  Kudos to Germany for plunging ahead in this vital area of planet care.  But we can all help by buying our own turbines.  [GT]

May 30, 2006 in Renewables | Permalink


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