The Expensive Dream of Clean Energy
Will High Costs Kill Merkel's Green Revolution?
Chancellor Angela Merkel's vision of completing Germany's conversion to renewable energy by 2050 is bold and ambitious. But she has remained silent about the risks and the tremendous costs the green revolution will entail -- for Germany and all of Europe. By SPIEGEL Staff
Germany's dream of an energy revolution has already come true in the small town of Morbach, nestling between wooded hills in the southwestern Hunsrück region. Morbach boasts 14 wind turbines, 4,000 square meters of solar panels and a biogas plant, all located on the site of a former military base straddling a hill above the town. Together, they produce three times more electricity than the 11,000-strong community needs.
Politicians and corporate executives from all over the world have visited the site. "They all want to see how it's done," says Morbach Mayor Gregor Eibes, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party. Morbach has already achieved what Merkel is now planning for the whole of Germany.
She wants to lift Germany to Morbach's levels in just four decades, after which Europe's largest economy will meet most of its energy requirements from the sun and the wind, biomass and water. Drawing on the inexhaustible supply of energy on land and at sea would help combat global warming. And it would mean an end the dependence on Arab oil and to fears of nuclear accidents and of the mood swings of Russia's gas suppliers.
The government laid out this bold, green vision in its draft energy plan earlier this month. It wants to increase the share of renewable energy from 16 percent today to 80 percent by 2050. moreOf course, all the investment in clean energy will produce thousands of jobs. So how is this not a good thing?
Wind Not Weapons
An Ailing Shipyard Finds New Life with Renewable Energies
By Markus Grill
The German wind energy sector is expanding, opening up fresh business opportunities -- even for unlikely candidates like warship makers. The Nordseewerke shipyard has rejiggered its business model and decided to go green.
Someday the last swords really will be beaten into plowshares, or perhaps it is the warships that will transform into wind turbines -- precisely what is taking place at the Nordseewerke shipyard in Emden on Germany's North Sea coast.
At the moment, a gray corvette -- a type of small warship -- sways at the side of the quay. Construction is nearly complete. Over in the dry dock, workers are giving a container ship called the Alexander B a final inspection. But these are their last tasks as shipbuilders. Schaaf Industrie AG (SIAG), a mid-sized company specializing in supplying parts for wind turbines and located in the Westerwald area, well inland of Emden, bought the 106-year-old shipyard this March. The company isn't interested in continuing with shipbuilding and certainly not with manufacturing armaments. Environmental technology offers far better opportunities.
It's the end of an era in Emden. "If it floats, we built it here," says Ole-Christian Bolze, 39, assistant to the shipyard's technical director. The Nordseewerke has built submarines, war ships, container ships, yachts and even the "Vasco da Gama," at the time the world's largest suction dredger.
Bolze himself is matter-of-fact. His acquaintance with the shipyard extends back to 1991, when he began his training here as an industrial administrator, but he doesn't appear to be mourning shipbuilding's demise. "We have to accept that Korea can build container ships just as well as we can these days, and they make them cheaper," he explains. more