Proponents of “clean energy” in the United States often cite Germany’s wind industry as a model for the renewable energy industry. Recent statistics from Germany tell a different story.
The expansion of wind power in Germany fell by more than 80 percent in 2019 in response to growing public resistance and multiple lawsuits filed against the industry by conservation groups and local communities protesting the visual pollution, environmental impacts and health hazards of siting turbines close to residential areas.
The price of electricity for households and businesses in Germany reached an all-time high in 2019, with a mandatory “renewables surcharge” accounting for more than 21 percent of the bill. Despite Germany’s huge investment in renewable energy, carbon emissions in Germany have been rising since 2009. While wind turbines emit no greenhouse gases during operation, the figures mount rapidly when factoring in carbon emissions from the manufacture, transport, construction and maintenance of turbines, and the loss of carbon sequestration when vast quantities of land are cleared for wind farms.
Scientists in Germany recently published data showing a 75% drop in flying insects on German nature preserves over the past three decades. Given the dangers of wind turbines to birds, bats and insects, one might speculate that Germany’s obsession with wind power is a factor in the decline.
With 28,000 onshore wind turbines, one third of which will need to be decommissioned within the next five years, Germany faces the monumental task of disposing of tens of thousands of nonrecyclable turbine blades in the country’s limited landfill space.
Given these statistics, we must look to Germany not as a “model” but as a warning of what to expect if we follow Germany’s example of relying on wind for our energy needs.