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Feb 5, 201611:35 AMBlaska's Bring It!

with David Blaska

Going Green Acres with envy, campaign cash, and green religion

(page 1 of 2)

Editor's note: This blog post has been edited from its original version.

Readers of the February 2016 In Business magazine may have been startled to read the claim of my debate partner in the popular Political Posturing feature (Page 8) that “Germany, the fifth-largest manufacturing economy in the world, supplies up to 78% of its power from renewable energy on any given day.”

Startled? Your Humble Bloggeur was gobsmacked! Europe’s largest economy gets 78% of its power from renewable energy? Perhaps it depends on the “given day.” (Leap year?)

The white lab coats at the Policy Research Werkes could not replicate any scenario in which the blast furnaces of the ThyssenKrupp AG werkes could be powered by solar panels. (Unless the solar panels were atop and supplementing a honking big nuclear power plant.) Our Eisenhower-era mainframe computer determined that the wind turbines needed to operate the automobile plants of Stuttgart, Munich, and Wolfsburg would need to cover the entirety of Belgium. Add Luxembourg to run the night shift.

According to the German government’s own Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy:

As of the end of 2014, renewable energy sources, such as biomass, biogas, biofuels, hydro, wind, and solar, accounted for 11.1% of the country’s primary energy consumption.

That’s 11.1%, not 78%.

Meanwhile, Wisconsin’s PSC estimates that the Obama rule will cost our state $13 billion and 20,000 jobs. Doesn’t matter that we got a head start by spending $11 billion on clean coal — the reduction is from present levels.

While clean-air Wisconsin, an early adapter, is under the federal gun, particulate levels in China are more than 50 times that recommended by the World Health Organization.

For all that, the much ballyhooed climate accord hammered out in Paris late last year is voluntary.

Donald Trump was right to say that the U.S. can’t negotiate a decent treaty anymore.


Old to new | New to old
Feb 5, 2016 03:04 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

Interested to note that unlike the Squire, Brad Werntz is an entrepreneur. A job creator. Thrilled to see him in the business mag.

As far as Shkreli goes, isn't he the free-market ideal? Why should he allow himself to be called on the carpet by grandstanding politicians who preach daily for MORE of the conditions that allow him and his short-trading peers to prosper? I find the guy to be loathsome, but he is a creation of free market capitalism.

Finally on the county exec bill: Are you really pointing out that Republicans in the legislature are less interested in governing than they are in rigging the future for their team?

Feb 8, 2016 01:37 pm
 Posted by  JNT

David wrote:

"Our Eisenhower-era mainframe computer determined that the wind turbines needed to operate the automobile plants of Stuttgart, Munich, and Wolfsburg would need to cover the entirety of Belgium."

You don't need your 1950s computer to do this calculation. Simple pencil and paper will suffice. Do the calculation right here David so we can all see how you obtained your conclusion.

Feb 9, 2016 10:58 am
 Posted by  JNT

I don't see David answering my simple question to show us the details of his calculation that wind turbines that cover the entirety of Belgium are needed to operate the auto plants for just 3 cities in Germany. Maybe he dropped his punch cards and is still sorting through the mess. I hate when that happens. A nice card sorter can help David.

Feb 9, 2016 11:30 am
 Posted by  BradWerntz

Hey David,

Just saw this piece from the 5th, as somebody brought it to my attention. I don't have record of you ever asking me for clarification on my facts, so I'm responding now to the query you never made.

What I said was that Germany gets up to 78% of its energy on a given day. This is a fact. (I emailed you the links, but it can be easily verified via Google Search...) While 78% is the record, they have hit close to this mark many times. Regarding renewable energy in Germany, their current annual average (through 2015 - you cite 2014) is 28% of their energy needs are being met by solar, wind, bio, and geothermal, and climbing annually, as outlined by National Geographic.

Thanks for letting me clear this up.

Thank you,

Feb 9, 2016 01:52 pm
 Posted by  David Blaska

Brad: I am sorry you lost my e-mail inquiry of February 3, which I copied to an editor at InBusiness.

I did not represent that you said the annual average was 78%. I quoted your statement as printed in the magazine, that it occurred on one day. Further research shows that that one day was a warm and sunny July 25, 2015, not a workday but a weekend Saturday, factories idle, lights off, AC not needed, thanks to abnormally heavy winds to spin the turbines. And then, only for “for a few hours."

All that said, I do applaud Germany for trying to lessen its dependence on fossil fuels and (less laudably) nuclear energy. But that "independence" comes at a cost: the second-highest electricity costs of 27 European countries. (Neighboring France, reliant on nuclear energy, has the seventh cheapest.) About half of an average consumer’s electric bill now goes to taxes and subsidies for renewables. Germans pay $15.22 per kilowatt hour compared to $9.43 per kwH in the U.S.

Finally, your 28% figure refers only to net electrical generation. As Germany's federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy notes, "electricity is only one form of energy and does not account for the energy used in transportation by vehicles and for the heating of buildings. Total energy produced from renewables at the end of 2014, was 11.1%.

Feb 10, 2016 09:46 am
 Posted by  JNT

I see that you took out the gratuitous insult to Brad concerning his 'religious' beliefs. You still haven't provided any proof that somehow 'global warming' became 'climate change'. Do you still stand by this belief?
Show us the proof.

Regarding your claim about wind turbines that cover the area of Belgium, since you won't respond to my request for a calculation, let me ask you this: Did you do any calculation at all? Did someone tell you this or did you read it somewhere? Did you just make it up?

Feb 10, 2016 09:57 am
 Posted by  JNT

By the way, David, it's cents per kwH, not dollars!

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About This Blog

Raised on a farm near Sun Prairie, David Blaska is a recovering liberal who spent 18 years in daily newspapers, including 12 at The Capital Times in Madison as a reporter and editor. He served Gov. Tommy Thompson as acting press secretary in 1998 and is a veteran and survivor of 19 years in state government. He served 12 years on the Dane County Board of Supervisors. From December 2007 to November 2011 he wrote the consistently popular "Blaska's Blog" for Isthmus online's "The Daily Page" until, he says, the intolerant liberals ran him off. He blogs from Madison.

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