It’s Always Sunny in DusselDorf: While US is Paralyzed by Debt/Climate Deniers, Germany Deploys Renewables, Enjoys Budget Surplus

October 17, 2013

Above, the infamous “Germany has more sun” interview on Fox News – typical of the disinformation pedaled by the fossil fuel lobby and their clients in the face of booming renewable development elsewhere in the world (skip to 2:49 if you want the punchline immediately).
I’ll be showing this to an audience in Ludington Michigan, tonight, like I showed to astonished folks in Iceland a few weeks ago. It takes minutes for the laughter to die down, whereupon, I always give the obligatory Geography lesson – mindful that its been a while since we had a war with Germany, and a lot of folks may not know where that country is – a cloudy northern European democracy at the same latitude as Labrador, Canada.


As this solar resource map shows, Germany gets less sun than almost anyplace in the United States, except the rainy Olympic Peninsula – even Alaska has a greater solar resource than Germany – as this solar resource map from the (newly re-opened) National Renewable Energy Lab shows.


The Tea Party/Fox News/Talk Radio/ClimateScience Denial narrative (excepting maybe elements of the “Green Tea Party”, who are having glimmerings of understanding), is that, deploying renewable energy will sink our economy and drive us into the stone age.

Germany reminds us again that we did not leave the stone age because we ran out of stones.

We did it because we had a better idea.

Bloomberg/Business Week:

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — While politicians in the United States argue about spending cuts, deficits and the debt ceiling, Germany faces a different discussion: What to do with a looming budget surplus.

The country’s strong economy means it will take in more in tax revenue than it will spend next year for a third straight year, a group of top economic institutes said in a twice-annual report Thursday.

The report urged the government to put the surplus to good use and suggested investing in education and scientific research. The government could also give taxpayers a break by eliminating so-called bracket creep, the institutes said. Bracket creep is when inflation pushes taxpayers into higher tax brackets.

The German government will run a surplus of 0.1 percent of economic output this year and 0.3 percent next year — or 7.7 billion euros ($10.5 billion) after taking in 1.257 trillion euros and spending 1.249 trillion euros. Germany also had a small surplus in 2012.

Germany will continue to run surpluses to 2018, if tax and spending practices remain the same, the report said, reaching 1.5 percent of GDP. Provisions of Germany’s constitution will require, however, that some of that money be used to start paying down debt.

The economists forecast that debt as a percentage of annual economic output would drop from 81.2 percent last year to 61 percent by 2018. That is close to the 60 percent debt ceiling required on paper by the European Union for the 17 nations that use euro currency, although the limit has been widely violated.

Germany took steps in 2003 to significantly cut the cost of labor and employee benefits to businesses. Over the succeeding years, the country has seen strong economic performance exporting cars and machinery to the United States and to developing markets such as China.

German unemployment is Iow at 5.2 percent and the business climate has improved due to the easing of market tensions over debt levels in other euro countries such as Spain, Italy, Greece, Portugal and Ireland.

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22 Responses to “It’s Always Sunny in DusselDorf: While US is Paralyzed by Debt/Climate Deniers, Germany Deploys Renewables, Enjoys Budget Surplus”

  1. Peter,

    as You know I am all for renewable energy, and Germany is doing in some ways excellent. But it still has a relatively HIGH per capita CO2 (higher than Japan or UK – even though, to be fair, these two countries have negative trade balance and unpayable debt), but Germany also has a HIGH debt levels.

    Also, Germany is an EXPORT machine (if Euro were dismantled, German currency would be stronger, therefore supressing import) – they are exporting in monetary terms as much as China. They export a lot of fossil eating cars etc. They contribute to increasing wealth gap in European Union – not sustainable.

    So yes, Germany may be doing well in some areas, but far, far from sustainability.

    Greetings from Freiburg, Germany


    • daryan12 Says:

      I would just point out that tho, yes Germany’s energy consumption is higher than a couple of other European countries, but then again that’s hardly a surpise when you look at its economy, the energy consumption and carbon footprint of Germany is tiny compared to that in the US or Canada, who consume over double the energy of Germans per capita.

      And before you start blaming colder winters or warmer summers, consider that Russia (who goes thro some of the hardest winters on the planet & it gets plenty of heat waves) the average citizen uses just slightly less energy per capita than a German.

      Inevitably, those massive SUV’s, poor energy efficiency standards, limited public transport & sprawlling suburbs in the States all stack up.

      • MorinMoss Says:

        Yup, when you add everything up, North Americans have no excuse for our staggering waste of energy and have forgotten just how hard our forebears had to work to get get things done that we now do at the flip of a switch.

  2. Nick Carter Says:

    As I understand it, Joshi’s husband works for an investment firm tied to the nat gas industry. Conflict of interest?

    She is married to Rahul Advani, a principal for energy investments at Energy Capital Partners. Hm. A check to the website of Energy Capital Partners shows that it is “a private equity firm with over $7.5 billion in capital commitments. The firm focuses on investing in the power generation, midstream gas, electric transmission and energy and environmental services sectors of North America’s energy infrastructure”

  3. […] Above, the infamous "Germany has more sun" interview on Fox News – typical of the disinformation pedaled by the fossil fuel lobby and their clients in the face of booming renewable development else…  […]

  4. kinimod Says:

    Why not promote solar indirectly with comprehensive GHG emission tax (or cap-and-trade-system, whatever You like more)? Has less market distortion, aims directly at the goal, promotes energy efficiency at the same time, what do we want more?
    I know, a rethorical question.

  5. andrewfez Says:

    When did Fox say that? February? It says it was uploaded in February on YT.

    Since Feb 2013 First Solar’s stock is up 50%, Sun Power’s stock is up 280%, Solar City is up 280% also; that’s kinda spooky but I’m rounding, Market Vector’s Solar Energy ETF is up 70%.

    Fox screwed Joe average investor in small town Georgia out of a lot of cash with that interview, while hedge funds were going crazy in the solar sector. It’s not that Joe average can’t do his own due diligence, it’s that he probably didn’t want to after that interview.

  6. kingdube Says:

    obviously Germany doesn’t have more sun.

    On the other hand, solar is a disaster in Germany.

    • redskylite Says:

      At least Germany have a vision to have 80% of electricity to be provided by renewable resources by 2050. Forbes say it is a disaster but Forbes say many things that we can take with a pinch of salt. What is your vision kingdube ? do you want to stay with all those “wattsupwiththat” freaks.

      • 80 % of electricity from renewable sources may look like a lot – but electricity is only about 20 % of total energy consumption…

        • A very good point. Our future requirements for electricity will be very much larger than our current usage, for we will need to replace ALL carbon burning with renewables. Rooftop solar can not come close to this potential.

          So, we are going to need a TON of large-scale renewable projects. What Germany has accomplished is remarkable, but is it the most intelligent way to spend monies? This very article demonstrates that Germany gets very poor sunlight. So why generate electricity from solar there, of all places?

          The fact is that the point of generation does NOT have to be close to the point of usage. We can send electrical power very large distances very efficiently, ie, without much loss over distance. So, why not put solar installations not in Germany, where sunlight is poor, but instead install them where sunlight is wonderful? Germany (and the rest of Europe) should be building large-scale solar generation in the deserts of northern Africa. Renewable energy just plain fits better into a collective paradigm, rather than a for-profit localized one.

          We have enough deserts, strategically-located throughout the world, to offer first-rate solar electricity production for everyone on the planet ten thousands times over. All we need to do is think collectively, as one people determined to save our one planet.

          • redskylite Says:

            That is a very interesting idea and would be very popular in the desert lands of U.A.E and Saudi Arabia (who are currently making a mint in exporting oil), they would be delighted to continue exports in energy (in around 100 years time when their fossils have run out, for a cost of course). As climate change looms more evidently and fossil fuels stocks diminish, man needs to become more imaginative and use all forms of renewable available (and wherever available), unless someone invents a miracle alternative supply (cold fusion, dark matter etc. – which sounds a bit hazardous and a long way off to me). Wind, Sun, Hydro, Ocean/tides, Geothermal all natural sources of energy – lets harness them all. Nuclear reactors may still have a place – but well away from quake zones/tsunami vulnerable areas/ Pacific Ring of Fire please, and make sure they have a decent management and support team to run them.

          • andrewfez Says:



            ‘World’s largest concentrated solar power plant opens in the UAE’


            Wish i could find, on the internet, the historical solar power experiment that was done 100 years ago in the desert, using the same concept that’s in the article. Anyone know what I’m talking about?

    • Bruce Miller Says:

      not for the many cottagers with Solar roofs! The peons have done well.

  7. Pay attention dube. The German economy is stronger than the US and other countries. ( get your facts straight ). That means we should switch to renewables to improve the economy. Read the article before you knee jerk.

    • greenman3610 Says:

      you don’t get it. Paying attention is hard.
      making blanket talking point statements on the internet is easy.

  8. Bruce Miller Says:

    The hardest thing for a peon soaked in the “U.S. psychology” to understand is the notion of “renewable = perpetual” energy! For as long as your current, and very temporary, natural gas abundance flows, and long after it it all gone, the Solar, Wind, Wave, Hydro, Tidal, Geothermal, Biological, renewable, domestic systems will still be there, as the very backbone of your economy, and unlike nuclear by Uranium Enrichment, offer no hidden, humanocidal waste disposal expenses, no harmful leaks to clean up, no high and hidden decommissioning costs, no anti-terrorist security costs, lower initial installation costs. Even China’s thrust towards Thorium LFTR technologies promise better than the American Nuclear Experience, is plutonium free, and cheaper, safer and easy to fuel. U.S. peons, caught in an ‘economic energy trap’, corporately controlled for the shareholders benefit, not designed to build a strong nation, not designed to build a strong people, not designed for a safe and secure future for progeny, not designed to produce a strong infrastructure, not designed to produce or accommodate a well educated population, Strictly and legally limited to shareholder benefits. The “Post WWII German psychology”, is very different. They rejoice when a car made from renewable power is sold, realizing the 100% profit in benefits to the general populace of Germany. They understand an austerity not yet suffered in the U.S.A. They see gains in an educated working population, They require for their very survival, well educated, hard working, frugal, people. They defend cleanliness and environmentally proper care of their “Father Land”, they feel a certain responsibility for their own. Canadians have developed similar sentiments for their environment and ‘Fellow Canadians”. Americans seem weak in these areas, and more concerned with Capitalist and Corporatist, shareholder values? My Question: Is this the work of the Great Corporate American Propaganda Whore and her moanings, persuasions, illusions, on the American people?

  9. Andrew Boada Says:

    I think it’s important that we continue to pursue renewable energy sources. We also ought to keep in mind how low the energy density of these sources is and how much energy and infrastructure will therefore need to go into harnessing them in the quantities needed to provide power for a human population that is growing and growing more energy hungry.

    Having read quite a bit on the topic of renewable and other sources of energy, I have become increasingly persuaded that, at the very least in the medium (5-10 decades) term, the most promising hope humanity has for generating clean and abundant power lies in nuclear power using thorium in a liquid fluoride thorium reactor (LFTR).

    Some people hear the word “nuclear” and instantly shout about radiation and danger even though nuclear power even in its current form, which I’m not advocating, has had one of the best track records for safety in the energy business. Before they start shouting though, I’d urge them to find out more about this technology. Nuclear power from thorium will not bathe the world in radiation or fill it with nuclear waste. Quite the opposite, acutally. LFTRs can actually burn highly radioactive waste and bomb grade nuclear fuel and convert it to much safer, far less radioactive substances.

    I’ll leave the presentation of this technology to one of its best proponents. Here are two Kirk Sorensen’s video presentations you can find on the net. The first is a 10 minute Ted Talk. The second is a google tech talk. It’s 36 minutes long, but this is a topic in which the details actually matter quite a lot.

    • Andrew Boada Says:

      OK, the first video didn’t post properly. It’s the third video in the playlist.

      • Rehashed pro nuke drivel.
        Wind turbines uses too much area? By the same reasoning the area under street lights is unavailable. Deniers claim all the area between turbines unavailable. fail.
        LCAs show nukes require more resources and contribute more co2 than wind.
        Lftr and thorium.
        Best track records for safety?
        If, like Stewart Brand, you exclude Chernobyl, military and experimental, injuries not caused by direct radiation at the power plant, and of course only include immediate deaths, ignore all other impacts… Why bother.
        If on the other hand, you include the hundreds of thousands of Chernobyl clean up workers with early radiation deaths, the stillborns, the abortions, the millions Soviet physicians tabulated…
        Of course, the whole discussion is hijacked by the notion that only deaths count. That way we can ignore the vast displacement of populations and the exclusion of huge areas of land for eons and ignore it, because only deaths narrowly defined matter. Crock.
        But we can rest assured on the notion of unproven LFTR fantasies that over decades have never materialized.

    • daryan12 Says:

      The LFTR is an unproven technology, the Chinese (the only people doing anything resembling serious research) don’t expect to build one until the 2020′s and that (if it even gets built) will be a small and crude prototype which will operate on an open cycle, as one of the biggest unknowns with this tech is its means of processing fuel, which has never been tried out for real.

      Also fast reactor concepts, such as the LFTR, have developed a nasty reputation for running vastly over budget and being unreliable. My pro-nuclear friends tend to turn their nose up at the thought that a reactor made out of exotic nickel alloys and running on molten nuclear lava could ever be as practical or cost effective as Gas-cooled, LW or HW reactors.

      Gas-cooled & CANDU’s can also utilize thorium, which begs the question, why complicate things with a LFTR?

      Finally, a LFTR or a fast reactor, cannot “burn” anything. Its not some sort of magical disintegration machine. All it does is transform radioactive wastes into a different form with a shorter half life….of course some of that stuff turns out to be more dangerous (for the “few” centuries it remains radioactive anyway) than it was to begin with! There also tends to be an increase in the amounts of ILW as you’re essentially trading a modest reduction on HLW for a large increase in ILW & LLW.

      Studies by MIT and Harvard on nuclear waste have both concluded that reprocessing via a Fast reactor (or a LFTR) would be more expensive and riskier than once-thro with Vitrification of wastes and geological storage.

  10. […] of the German experience with renewables – meanwhile they keep rolling along with a national budget surplus and 5 percent unemployment.  The problems that may arise will come, if anything, from failure of traditional business models […]

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