Separating Fact from Fiction In Accounts of Germany’s Renewables Revolution

Amory Lovins l RMI Blog  15 August 2013

RMI Blog

I recently wrote about—and debunked—the renewables “disinformation campaign” that spreads misinformed and falsely negative stories about the growth of renewable energy. A special focus of such disinformation has been reportage on Germany’s efficiency-and-renewables revolution. The impressive success so far of the German Energiewende (energy turnaround) is an important existence proof for the world, because Germany is cloudy, high-latitude, heavily industrialized, highly competitive (it rivals America’s merchandise exports with one-fourth its population), and the world’s fourth-biggest economy.

Perhaps because German success would therefore belie the supposed necessity of fossil-fuel and nuclear energy, some media regularly report the Energiewende’s failure or supposed impossibility. As I highlighted, Germany’s renewables revolution is in fact highly successful and strong as   ever, but that hasn’t stopped three myths from gaining traction in the media: 1) Germany’s supposed turn back to coal, 2) how renewables undermine grid reliability, and 3) how renewables subsidies are cratering the German economy. None of those are true, and here’s why.

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Wind power one of cleanest energy sources over lifetime

Toxic energy producers and conservative lawmakers have launched a wholesale attack on renewable energy. But the truth is renewable energy is safer, and better. We can lower our greenhouse gas emmissions by choosing a future that is, in part, blowing in the wind.

EWEA Blog l Tom Rowe   24 July, 2013

Greenhouse gases produced over the lifetime of a wind turbine – including for its manufacturing and installation – are less than that of fossil-fuel based energy sources and most other renewables, a new study from the US shows. Only ocean energy (wave and tidal) and hydropower have lower emissions than wind...

...a charge often leveled by anti-wind energy groups is that the manufacture and erection of wind turbines creates emissions on a scale that belies the idea that wind power is clean.

The Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) study by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory shows that wind energy‘s lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions are a small percentage of those of fossil fuels, lower than nuclear, and even lower than nearly all other renewable energy resources. From cradle to grave, coal-fired electricity releases about 20 times more greenhouse gases per kilowatt-hour than wind or solar, for example (based on median estimates for each technology).  See the study for further details.

Read more here

Read study here

How Loud is a Wind Turbine?

Are wind turbines noisy? Possibly, but probably not as noisy as you think. A look at wind turbine noise. Not perfect, but neither is your refrigerator. And, while yes, consider the source (GE is not unbiased), the information is simple and clear, and presented in a straightforward way. Don't dismiss the future because it's in its infancy. Renewables have only room to grow. And, they grow better, less expensive, more efficient, almost as we speak. Our traditional energy sources are dirty, dangerous, and ruinously expensive. They are falling apart, and they threaten to take the entire planet with them.

Change is not always easy, the sailing is not always smooth, but renewable energy has long since proved it offers a viable present solution for our energy crisis. Imagine what it will be in the future!

GE Reports l How Loud is a Wind Turbine?

Because wind turbines are such a great source of clean, renewable energy, they’re usuallygreeted with a great deal of enthusiasm. But some complaints have been made that they can cause too much noise for residents living within a mile of the blades.

So just how noisy are these turbines?

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Clean Technica: Wind Power in Europe MORE Reliable than Nuclear Power in Japan

Clean Technica l Zachary Shahan  16 June, 2011

Great discussion of analysis by Paul Gipe of Wind Works on wind versus nuclear and the baseload fallacy, with specific comparisons of nuclear unreliability at Fukushima even before the accident, and ever increasing success with reliable energy generation from wind power, especially in Germany and Spain. 

There's a reason Germany is willing to switch to renewable energy from nuclear- it works. And, despite the usual criticisms from the nuclear industry about reliability the author explains why wind works in Europe, and how it is only at the beginning of the curve toward its true potential.


A lot of wind critics assert that wind power isn’t reliable. The wind power video above, however, does a great job of pointing out the differences between wind power variability and variability of traditional power sources, among other things. Paul Gipe of Wind-Works also recently got into this topic, in more detail, as compared to nuclear power:


Critics of wind energy often charge that wind energy is too “unreliable” to generate a large portion of a nation’s electricity and suggest that base load needs “reliable” sources of generation such as nuclear power.


While wind is a “variable” resource, that is, the wind doesn’t always blow and when it does it doesn’t always blow at the same strength, wind is far more reliable than the critics charge. In fact, wind is fairly predictable on long time horizons, especially from one year to the next.


In contrast, nuclear power is “reliable” until it isn’t as the units at the Fukushima nuclear power plant so dramatically demonstrate.


Read full text at: Clean Technica (

Battle-proof Wind Farms Survive Japan's Trial by Fire

A story of hope for the renewable energy future we need. It is out there, and in Japan, it is helping to return electricity to the ravaged country.

Huffington Post l Kelly Rigg    March 17, 2011

As the world collectively holds its breath to see how the Fukushima crisis plays out (the quote of the day has got to be: "The worst-case scenario doesn't bear mentioning and the best-case scenario keeps getting worse...") there's a positive story which is not yet being reported.

Despite assertions by its detractors that wind energy would not survive an earthquake or tsunami the Japanese wind industry is still functioning and helping to keep the lights on during the Fuksuhima crisis.

Colleagues and I have been directly corresponding with Yoshinori Ueda leader of the International Committee of the Japan Wind Power Association & Japan Wind Energy Association, and according to Ueda there has been no wind facility damage reported by any association members, from either the earthquake or the tsunami. Even the Kamisu semi-offshore wind farm, located about 300km from the epicenter of the quake, survived. Its anti-earthquake "battle proof design" came through with flying colors.

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Wind power to provide a fifth of world electricity by 2030

Greenpeace l Press release - October 12, 2010       Beijing, 12 October 2010: Wind could meet 12% of global power demand by 2020, and up to 22% by 2030, according to a study published today by the Global Wind Energy Council and Greenpeace Inter...

Wind could provide 20 pct of world power by 2030: study

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

  AFP l Independent

Wind power could meet about a fifth of the world's electricity demand within 20 years, an industry group and environmental watchdog Greenpeace predicted in a new report released Tuesday.

The global market for wind power grew 41.7 percent on year in 2009, beating average annual growth of 28.6 percent over the past 13 years, said Steve Sawyer, secretary general of the Global Wind Energy Council, or GWEC.

China ranked second in the world in installed wind generating capacity in 2009 and was the largest buyer of wind technology, Sawyer told reporters at the launch of GWEC and Greenpeace's Global Wind Energy Outlook 2010 report.

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Ancient Italian Town Has Wind at Its Back

NYTimesELISABETH ROSENTHAL  September 28, 2010

ItalywindFossil-articleLarge.jpgThe towering white wind turbines that rise ramrod straight from gnarled ancient olive groves here speak to something extraordinary happening across Italy.

Faced with sky-high electricity rates, small communities across a country known more for garbage than environmental citizenship are finding economic salvation in making renewable energy. More than 800 Italian communities now make more energy than they use because of the recent addition of renewable energy plants, according to a survey this year by the Italian environmental group Legambiente.

Renewable energy has been such a boon for Tocco that it makes money from electricity production and has no local taxes or fees for services like garbage removal.


Wind Energy Can Power Much of East Coast, Study Says


wind092810schoof.jpgThe report by the conservation advocacy group Oceana argues that offshore wind could generate 30 percent more electricity on the East Coast than could be generated by the region's untapped oil and gas. It predicts that wind from the ocean could be cost competitive with nuclear power and natural gas to produce electricity.

The study appears just as new developments are starting to push U.S. efforts to catch up with Europe and China on tapping the energy in offshore wind. Great Britain last week opened the world's largest wind farm, and China built its first pilot offshore wind farm in 2008, using turbines from the nation's largest wind turbine producer, Sinovel.

"Offshore wind energy can help the nation reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, diversify its energy supply, provide cost-competitive electricity to key coastal regions, and stimulate economic revitalization of key sectors of the economy," the study says.

Are There Serious Reservations in the Scientific Community Regarding Wind Energy?

The Union of Concerned Scientists is always a good source of solid information. In their Ask a Scientist section the other day, they answered a question about wind power that comes up often from doubters of the efficacy of renewable energy sources: Are there serious reservations in the scientific community regarding wind energy?

As usual their answer was thoughtful and thorough, addressing impact on birds and wildlife, adverse health effects, the sound issue, as well as benefits to the community. 

Their final word?

"Every energy source will impact the environment in some way, but it’s clear that wind is one of the safest and cleanest choices."

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Nuclear Power is not the Answer