Germans Just Love Paying Sky-High Prices for Green Energy

Aug 08, 2017

Germans are almost all in favor of expanding the use of renewable energy , according to a study conducted for the country's Renewable Energies Agency (AEE).

That's despite the fact that government subsidies for renewables mean that Germans pay more for their electricity than anyone else in Europe.

The AEE's survey that 95 percent saw the expansion of renewables as important or extremely important. That's up from 93% in a similar survey last year.

Germany is in the process of phasing out its nuclear plants, in a green transition known as the Energiewende. In the first half of this year, the country generated 35 percent of all its power from renewable sources such as wind, solar, hydroelectric and biomass. That share is routinely higher at weekends when industrial and office demand drops. On one particular Sunday – 30 April – 85 percent of Germany's power came from such sources.

The cost of the Energiewende is largely borne by German consumers, who pay a surcharge of around €20 ($23.61) on their energy bills. German households pay more for their electricity than in any other European country except for Denmark, where power costs €0.308 per kilowatt hour to Germany's €0.298.

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However, as the latest survey – conducted by Kantar Emnid on the AEE's behalf – shows, enthusiasm for renewables is increasing if anything. "The survey results show the breadth of the societal consensus supporting the Energiewende in Germany," said AEE deputy managing director Nils Boenigk.

The main reasons for that support? Future energy security and the fight against climate change. "People in Germany know the deployment must continue so we can fulfil our obligations regarding climate protection and future generations," said Boenigk.

As for the surcharge that Germans pay each month to fund the Energiewende, 48 percent of survey respondents said the amount was reasonable, 37 percent said it was too high, and 8 percent said they were willing to pay more. Around two-thirds said they were happy to see renewable energy installations go up near their homes, and the number rose among those who already had experience with the equipment.

But Berlin's crusading attitude on climate change is undermined by the fact that the country still uses lignite, or brown coal, to produce around a quarter of its electricity. Lignite is the most polluting fossil fuel still used in power generation, but is seen as a vital source of employment in the formerly communist eastern states of Germany.

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