With energy bills rising dramatically in most developed countries throughout the world, many industry pundits are now seriously wondering whether a lack of timely investment in renewable energy sources has compromised the drive to replace traditional energy supply methods. The push to substitute oil, gas, and nuclear generators with wind, hydro-electric, and solar power alternatives has achieved a good pace, but some have found that there is a price to pay if the old infrastructure is not dismantled or cut back at the same speed.
America, often seen as a dinosaur in the energy world, and apt to slow change is leading the way with new properties being built with integral solar energy capabilities, and both hydro-electric and wind alternatives being much in evidence, the US is quickly replacing old methods. President Barrack Obama’s pledge to break the countries dependence upon fossil and nuclear fuels when he first came to power in 2009 was well on its way to being realised just two years later when, in mid-2011, renewable energy sources accounted for more production than the nuclear industry in hitting 11.2% of national production.
The same is not the case throughout the world though and in Germany in particular, with the same sentiments shared, the reality has been far different. While the Coalition government is committed to renewable energy, the pace of transition has been alarmingly fast with heavily-subsidised solar energy installations springing up rapidly but without the country’s nuclear facilities being phased out at the same time, and confusion reigning over how the costs associated with it will be paid. Unfortunately, the cost of installing the photovoltaic options is being passed on to the general consumers at the same time as they are still paying for the old energy sources, pushing domestic bills up through the roof. Energy prices in the republic have now reached eye-watering levels and with further increases in energy tariffs planned, fuel-poverty is an increasingly likely scenario for many of Germany’s residents.
Adding to Germany’s embarrassment is the fact that while the building of new solar and wind installations – at a premium cost – continues to gather pace, the energy from these sources isn’t reaching the national grid fast enough. With the prospect of blackouts a real possibility, the short term gap is being filled by adding more gas-fired generators to make up the difference while the countries energy production footprint changes, adding more cost to overstretched consumers.
In the world where renewable sources are becoming predominant, many emerging nations would do well to learn the lessons that Germany is struggling with now.