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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Ten top trends for wind power in 2014
Ten top trends for wind power in 2014
Emily Williams

Today, AWEA released its 2014 U.S. Wind Industry Annual Market Report, which showed the benefits of the 2014 rebound in wind energy. Here are 10 of the top trends in the industry:

1. WIND JOBS REGAINED: 2014 saw a rebound of the wind industry jobs that were lost due to PTC uncertainty in 2013 – the U.S. wind energy industry added over 22,500 full-time equivalent jobs in 2014, bringing the total to 73,000. This is a partial rebound from the nearly 30,000 jobs that were lost in 2013 due to the lapse of the PTC at the end of 2012.

Fig. 72 Employment over Time2. WIND INSTALLATIONS REBOUND: The 4,854 MW of wind capacity added during 2014 was more than four times the amount installed in 2013. Additionally, there are more than 12,700 MW of wind capacity currently under construction and an additional 5,000 MW of wind capacity with long-term power purchase agreements that had not started construction by the end of 2014.

Fig. 2 Capacity over Time

3. WIND BENEFITS EVERY STATE: There are utility-scale wind projects or active wind-related manufacturing facilities in all 50 states. Even in regions like the Southeast without utility-scale projects, there are significant jobs in manufacturing, project development, and other areas. In fact, over 70 percent of U.S. Congressional districts have operational wind energy projects or active wind-related manufacturing facilities. The 73,000 jobs in wind are spread across all 50 states.

Fig. 61 Manufacturing Map

4. COSTS PLUMMET: The cost of wind energy dropped over 50 percent between 2009 and 2013, with the industry continuing to advance technology in several areas, from improved siting techniques to larger rotor diameters and taller towers that are increasing energy production across the country and opening up new regions for development. Taller turbine towers are raising the prospect of significant wind development occurring in the Southeast in the near future.

Fig. 63 Average 2014 Turbine
5. WIND TOP SOURCE OF NEW GENERATION: Wind energy was the largest source of new generation in the U.S. It was the primary choice for new power in the wind-rich regions of the Midwest, Pacific Northwest, and Plains states, providing 60 percent or more of all new electric generation capacity between 2011 and 2014. Wind’s market share was as high as 80 percent in the Midwest.Fig. 4 Capacity by Region
6. CORPORATIONS WANT WIND: Over 23 percent of the MW contracted through 2014 power purchase agreements were with non-utility off-takers including Amazon, Microsoft, the General Services Administration (GSA), Walmart and Yahoo! Many of these companies and organizations explained that they were attracted by wind energy’s unique ability to offer stably-priced energy, given its lack of fuel cost uncertainty.


7. CARBON AND WATER SAVINGS GREATER THAN PREVIOUSLY THOUGHT: Wind energy production avoided an estimated 125 million metric tons of carbon dioxide during 2014 – more than 5.7 percent of U.S. power sector emissions – while avoiding the consumption of over 68 billion gallons of water. This was estimated with a new tool that shows these benefits are even greater than previously thought.Fig. 75 Water SavingsFig. 74 CO2 Savings
8. NEW TRANSMISSION OPENS NEW AREAS FOR DEVELOPMENT: Texas is currently undergoing a wind boom thanks to the Competitive Renewable Energy Zone network of new transmission lines. That success will soon be replicated in other areas, as the grid operators SPP and MISO have adopted similar policies for planning and paying for transmission and are beginning to build major new transmission upgrades.

Fig. 81 Transmission Line Activity

9. NEW WIND RECORDS SHOW ITS RELIABILITY: Three states (Iowa, South Dakota and Kansas) now reliably generate more than 20 percent of their electricity from wind power. At times, wind energy has provided more than 60 percent of electricity on the main Colorado power system, and nearly 40 percent on the main Texas power system. Record wind output also helped to keep the lights on during extreme cold snaps in January 2014 and 2015.
Lights_On_webFig. 16 Generation by State Map
10. U.S. LEADS WORLD IN WIND: The U.S. leads the world in wind energy generation, producing over 181 billion kWh of wind energy during 2014 or enough electricity to power over 16.7 million homes.USWindEnergy_Graph_4.15
These trends show us that our federal policy has been working. However, our energy future is at a crossroads. Our common sense policy – the renewable energy production tax credit (PTC) – expired on December 31st. Please visit Power of Wind to write to your legislators today. Let them know that we need more predictable policy to keep this American success story going.


 Emily Williams

Emily Williams is Manager, Industry Data & Analysis for the American Wind Energy Association. In this position, she manages AWEA’s data collection and analytical agenda, including energy sector statistics, wind project and manufacturing data, and wind market economics.

13 may 15 @ 10:15 pm edt          Comments

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Marisa Wissar running for Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Sully District

Independent Green Party Marisa Wissar running for Fairfax County Board of Supervisors - Sully District.

Marisa Wissar, Independent Green Party, is a mother of three, a graduate of Marymount University, an Art teacher, and professional artist, and interior designer.

Marisa Wissar, Independent Green Party Green New Deal eco jobs for the economy. Rail jobs. Solar jobs. Wind jobs. Geothermal jobs. Bring bike share to Fairfax County and Sully District. Build Rail to Sully District, Centreville.  

Marisa Wissar, "We need More Trains, Less Traffic".

24 jan 15 @ 10:56 am est          Comments

Green Party leading in UK opinion polls

Green Party wins 2015 if election voted for policies

If people just voted on policies, the Greens would be the party of government in the run-up to the 2015 General Election.

That’s according to a survey that polled voters from across the United Kingdom, based solely on policies rather than party affiliation, seat incumbents or leaders’ personalities.

The results are based on policies from all parties’ 2010 manifestos, and is set to be updated soon ahead of the nationwide election in May.

But, despite their relatively low public profile, the Green Party’s policies appeal more to the public than any of the major players.

Ed Miliband’s Labour (20%) are closest to the Greens overall, but still languish seven per cent behind Natalie Bennett’s party, who polled 27.47% in the Vote For Policies poll.

Right-wing parties Ukip and the BNP had 11.78% and 9.94% respectively.

The 519,649 users who took the poll preferred the Green Party’s stance on Crime, the Economy, Education, Environment and Health.

The only categories it lost out in were Democracy and Europe, which went to the Liberal Democrats, and Immigration and Welfare, which were taken by Labour.

Green party poll


24 jan 15 @ 10:35 am est          Comments

Independent Green Party recruiting candidates for 2015

Be Independent Green Party candidate in 2015! 

Local office Independent Green Party endorsee or nominee:

Albert Burckhard – Isle of Wight County Board of Supervisors – Newark District

Carey Campbell – Fairfax County Supervisors – Braddock District

Gail for Rail Parker, Fairfax County Supervisors – Mt Vernon District

Marisa Wissar – Fairfax County Board of Supervisors – Sully District

Joe Galdo, Green Party, Chairman, Fairfax County Board of Supervisors

Chris DeCarlo, Fairfax County Sheriff

Tareq Salahi – Warren County Board of Supervisors

 Pete Marchetti – Fairfax County School Board – Chair

Dr. Katherine Pedigrew – Fairfax County School Board – Braddock District

Jesse Ray Whitacre – Fredericksburg City Council

Dr. Audrey Clement - Arlington County School Board 


House of Delegates

Joseph P. Oddo  57th Charlottesville


William Henry "Mouse" Jones Jr. 34th Petersburg


Col. Jim Leslie 38th (Annandale)

Dianne Blais 40th (Centreville)

Steve Pushor 43rd (Alexandria, Lee District)

Joe Glean 44th   (Alexandria, Mt. Vernon)

Ron Fisher,  49th  (Arlington)

Dr. Ken Hildebrandt, 60th

Joseph D. Morrissey 74th  (Richmond)

John W. Smith Jr. 100th  Accomack County, Norforlk City, Northampton County, Virginia Beach City


State Senate

Elaine Hildebrandt -  20th  South Central Virginia

Janet Murphy -  31st Arlington

Terry Modglin – 35th  Annandale

 Rick Mullins 38th


24 jan 15 @ 10:20 am est          Comments

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Independent Green Party's Fightin Joe elected to House of Delegates

Historic victory for Fightin' Joe Morrissey, Independent Green Party central committee member.

Fightin Joe (IG) rocks Virginia poltics - elected to House of Delegates.

Independent Green Party Fightin' Joe Morrissey Green New Deal eco jobs for the economy a winner!  

Joseph D. Morrissey, Independent Green Party elected tonight!!

Congrats to the Independent Green Party of Virginia's central committee member Joseph D. Morrrisey (IG)! 

Fightin' Joe Morrissey (IG) elected to the Virginia state legislature tonight, the House of Delegates. 

Independent Green Party state Chairman Joseph P. Oddo (IG), "This is a historic victory for our Fightin' Joe (IG) and the Independent Green Party. We need the Green New Deal eco jobs for the economy. Rail jobs. Solar jobs. Wind Jobs. Geothermal Jobs. Thank you to our Independent Green Party Fightin' Joe voters!"

Gail for Rail Parker, Independent Green Party state vice chair, "We thank Fightin' Joe Morrissey (IG) for his political courage. Fightin' Joe (IG) has been there for the voters, tonight they were there for Fightin Joe!"

State legislator Joseph D. Morrissey, Independent Green Party, stuns the Virginia political world with tonight's victory.

"The Independent Green Party has worked decades for the Green New Deal positive solutions of eco for the economy. More Trains, Less Traffic. Rail jobs. Solar jobs. Wind jobs. Now one of our own is in the state legislature!"

Carey Campbell, Independent Green Party state executive committee.  

13 jan 15 @ 9:06 pm est          Comments

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Joseph D. Morrissey elected to Independent Green Party state central committee
Independent Green Party elects and welcomes attorney Joseph D. Morrissey to Independent Green Party state central committee.
Former Henrico commonwealth attorney and veteran state legislator Joseph D. Morrissey has been elected to the Independent Green Party state central committee.  
The Indy Green state central committee consists of the Independent Green Party state Chairman, state Vice Chair, the state Executive Committee, and the Chairmen of each of the eleven congressional districts.  
Independent Green Party state Chairman Joseph P. Oddo, "We welcome Joe Morrissey to the Independent Green Party.  Delegate Morrissey brings valued experience as a commonwealth attorney, a state legislator, school teacher, university lecturer, and practicing private attorney."
Independent Green Party state Vice Chair Gail for Rail Parker, " Delegate Morrissey's professional, and political experience strengthen the Independent Green Party in offering voters an alternative on the ballot."
"Delegate Joe Morrissey gives voters a choice on the ballot in the special election January 13, 2015.  The Independent Green Party looks forward to working with Mr. Morrissey in the years to come."  Carey Campbell Independent Green Party state Executive Committee. 
28 dec 14 @ 9:29 am est          Comments

Friday, December 26, 2014

Joseph Morrissey - Independent Green Party endorsee/nominee 74th District

Joe Morrissey - Independent Green Party endorsee/nominee for House of Delegates district 74.

Special election January 13, 2015


 Election day is January 13, 2015

Joseph D. Morrissey

B.A. in economics University of Virginia 1979. 

J.D. from Georgetown University Law School 1982.

Joe Morrissey taught government as a high school teacher.

Joe Morrissey was Commonwealth Attorney from 1989 to 1993 in Richmond, Virginia. 

Joe Morrissey began private practice as an attorney in 1993.

Joe Morrissey operates law offices of Morrissey and Goldman Richmond, Virginia

Joe Morrissey earned a master of laws degree with honors at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland in 2003. 

Joe Morrissey was a lecturer of Law at Portobello College in Ireland from 2001-2002, taught law school at the Dublin Institute of Technology (2001-2003)and in Australia at the University of Adelaide and the University of Western Sydney in 2003. 

Joe Morrissey was first elected to the Virginia House of Delegates in 2007. Joe Morrissey was re-elected in 2009, 2011. 

Joe Morrissey was unopposed for re-election to House of Delegates in 2013. 

Joe Morrissey has proposed a Term Limits bill for member of the House of Delegates and State Senate. 

The Green Party was founded on Term Limits. 

Joe Morrissey had a bill before the House of Delegates in the last legislative session to protect the environment by charging .05 cents for all plastic bags. This is a law that has worked in other states to raise revenue and protect the environment. 

The Independent Green Party of Virginia endorses and nominates Joe Morrissey as a champion for more trains, less traffic for House of Delegates.

The Independent Green Party:
More Trains, Less Traffic
More Green candidates, less apathy
Fiscally Conservative, Socially Responsible

The Independent Green Party Green New Deal Eco jobs for the economy.
Green Party solar jobs, wind jobs, geothermal jobs, rail jobs, conservation jobs. Independent Green Party of Virginia efficiency jobs, weatherization jobs.
Green Party, walkability jobs, bike share jobs, efficiency jobs. 

Rail saves lives. Rail pays for itself through economic growth. Rail creates jobs. Rail increases the value of our homes, businesses, and communities. Rail grows revenue for schools, police, and fire departments. Rail cuts dependence on fossil fuel. Rail increases national security. Rail allows for mass evacuation in an emergency. 

Independent Green Party - Fiscally Conservative
Cut tax payer subsidies to ZERO to oil, auto, asphalt, coal, and cement.  

"Fightin' Joe Morriessey is fearless, and he never gives up - ever. "  Independent Green Party state chairman Joseph Oddo. 

26 dec 14 @ 11:48 am est          Comments

Independent Green Party - William Henry Jones endorsee/nominee

William Henry Jones, Independent Green Party endorsee nominee for House of Delegates 63rd district.

William Henry  

William Henry Jones Jr. is on the ballot for the special election on January 6th.

The Independent Green Party endorses and nominates for House of Delegate special elections January 6th in 63rd district, and January 13th 79th district.

William Henry Jones Jr. is the Independent Green Party endorsee/nominee for the 63rd.  

William Henry Jones Jr. promises to offer voters a choice in January.

"If you know me, I don't mind challenges. January 6, you can choose," Jones said Thursday. "At least we're gonna have an election this time and not a coronation."

An often-vocal critic of city issues, William Henry Jones filed to run by Wednesday night's deadline. 

26 dec 14 @ 11:15 am est          Comments

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Independent Green Party candidates 2015

Independent Green Party endorses and nominates first wave of candidates for 2015. 
Virginia's entire state legislature is up for election in 2015. 100 members of House of Delegates. 40 in the state senate. 
At their state meeting the Independent Green Party voted to endorse and, or nominate these Green leaders. 

Local office:

Albert Burckhardt - Isle of Wight County Board of Supervisors - Newport District

Aaron Lyles - School Board Roanoke

Carey Campbell (Independent) IG endorsee - Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, Braddock District

Gail for Rail Parker - Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, Chairman

Audrey Clement Arlington County School Board 
Gerry Blais 
Tareq Salahi - Warren County Board of Supervisors

House of Delegates:
Col Jim Leslie - 39th District
Elaine Hildebrandt - 60th District
Joseph P. Oddo - district to follow
Jeremiah Heaton - district to follow
Dianne Blais - district to follow
John W. Smith Jr. - district to follow

State Senate:
Dr. Ken Hildbrandt - 20th District
Terry Modglin - district to follow
Steve Puryor - district to follow
Dr. Brad Blanton - district to follow
Janet Murphy - district to follow

Indy Greens are actively recruiting candidates for 2015. Contact the Indy Green Party if you want to be a candidate - 703-351-1235

17 dec 14 @ 9:42 am est          Comments

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Paul E. Gagnon, Independent Green Party 1999 endorsee for Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman

Paul E. Gagnon dies.

Independent Green Party 1999 endorsee for Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman

Paul Gagnon was a state and national Green Party leader in the 1980's, and 1990's. Paul Gagnon led a slate of Indy Green Party endorsees in the 1999 state and local elections. While Paul ran for Chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, his wife Johna Good Gagnon was one of two Indy Green Party endorsed candidates (Carey Campbell was the other) for Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District Director. Paul Gagnon continued work in the community throughout his life.  

According to today's obit in the Washington Post,  "Paul Gagnon, 60, a former medical laboratory technologiest and mediator who had worked as a magistrate for Virginia's cournt system since 2005, died Nov. 15 at his home in Franconia, VA. The cause was gastric cancer, said his wife, Johna Good Gagnon.  

A native Washingtonian, Mr. Gagnon was a medical laboratory technologist from 1979 to 2005 at what became Inova Alexandria Hospital and co-owned the Franconia-based Gagnon Training and Development from 1986 to 2004. He was former board chairman of Lee District Land Use Advisory Committee.  He was an appointed citizen representative of the Fairfax County Commission on Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplantation and won the 2006 Fairfax County Volunteer Service Award."

The Independent Green Party of Virginia mourns the passing Paul E. Gagnon. Our thoughts and prayers go to his family. 

7 dec 14 @ 4:47 pm est          Comments

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Indy Green Party 2014 results - Thank you to candidates & voters!

Thank you to Independent Green Party full slate of candidates 2014, and Independent Green Party voters. 

Indy Green Party with more women congressional candidates than two larger parties

Independent Green Party endorsee/nominees by district

1)Gail for Rail Parker  2.5% of final vote in three way race

2) John W.Smith Jr.*

3) Col Albert Burckhardt*

4)Justin Gandino-Saadein*

5) Doctor Ken Hildebrandt  1.1% in four way race

6) Elaine Hildebrandt 12% in three way race

7) Tareq Salahi*

8) Gerry Blais .5% in five way race

9) William Carr 25.1% in two way race

10) Dianne Blais .4% in five way race

11) Dr. Joseph Galdo Green Party 1% in four way race.


Janet Murphy U.S.Senate*


Audrey Clement Arlington School Board   33% in two way race.
6 nov 14 @ 8:25 am est          Comments

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Indy Green Party 2014 full slate of candidate

Independent Green Party full slate of candidates 2014

Indy Green Party with more women congressional candidates than two larger parties

Independent Green Party endorsee/nominees by district 1)Gail for Rail Parker

2) John W.Smith Jr.*

3) Col Albert Burckhardt*

4)Justin Gandino-Saadein*

5) Doctor Ken Hildebrandt

6) Elaine Hildebrandt

7) Tareq Salahi*

8) Gerry Blais

9) William Carr

10) Dianne Blais

11) Dr. Joseph Galdo Green Party


Janet Murphy U.S.Senate*


Audrey Clement Arlington School Board


 Joseph P. Oddo, Independent Green Party state chairman.

contact: 703-351-1235

Joe Oddo Indy Green Party for More Trains, Less Traffic

Joe Oddo Indy Green Party Green New Deal eco jobs for economy. Solar jobs. Wind jobs. Geothermal jobs. Rail jobss.

Joe Oddo Indy Green Party fiscally conservative, socially responsible.

Joe Oddo Indy Green Party more green candidates, less apathy.

Independent Green Party full slate of 2014 congressional candidates.


Independent Green Party endorsee/nominees

1) Gail for Rail Parker

2) John W. Smith Jr.

3) Justin Gandino-Saadein

4) Col. Albert Burckhardt

5) Dr. Ken Hildebrandt

6) Elaine Hildebrandt

7) Tareq Salahi

8) Gerry Blais

9) William Carr

10) Dianne Blais

11) Dr. Joseph Galdo

U.S. Senate Janet Murphy


Audrey Clement Arlington County School Board.


* write-in 

1 nov 14 @ 10:43 am edt          Comments

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Green Party for cutting taxpayer subsidies to big oil



Green Yes, the Scottish Green Party's campaign for a Yes vote in the independence referendum, today (14 Sep) has published new figures which for the first time estimate the public subsidy behind big oil company profits.

The campaign has also published a detailed report by a leading oil finance author, showing the options an independent Scotland would have to position itself as a world leader in offshore decommissioning and publicly owned renewables.

The subsidy figure reveals that oil companies receive around £1billion worth of tax breaks from the UK Government every year - that's roughly £190 from every Scot.

Patrick Harvie, Green MSP for Glasgow and Co-convener of the Scottish Greens, said:

"As Scotland debates its future, discussion over oil has tended to focus on extracting every last drop and burning it, when we know we simply can't afford to do that for economic and environmental reasons. What has also been overlooked is the huge subsidy we're all giving the big oil companies. Now that figure's out in the open we should consider the logic of continuing such massive tax breaks.

"Big oil companies are already throwing their weight around as the vote nears, and an independent Scotland should be prepared to stand up to that. If Scotland remains part of the UK we will struggle to assert control; with a Yes we can build a genuinely sustainable economy, reducing our reliance on a declining industry and instead growing the clean technology of the future."


£1bn subsidy figure explained:

We place the average tax break at around £1.15 billion per annum for the entire UK Continental Shelf. The Scottish proportion of this is approximately 90 per cent or roughly £1.05 billion per year. The 90:10 split is based on Scotland's geographical share and commonly used.

This total figure is an estimate based on a combination of Government and industry estimates but very limited data.

The Green Yes graphic includes illustrations of what £1 billion could deliver instead of subsidising oil industry profits: more renewables, childcare, 25,000 extra teachers, 28,000 extra nurses.

Green Yes Energy Independence briefing - report by Mika Minio-Paluello:

Jason Rose
Head of Media
Scottish Greens

14 sep 14 @ 9:27 am edt          Comments

Monday, August 18, 2014

Rick Mullins Independent Green Party for State Senate 38th District

Rick Mullins is Independent Greens candidate in State Senate Special election.

"Rick Mullins is the positive solution for Virginia's State Senate in the 38th District special election."  said Carey Campbell, Independent Green Party state executive committee.  

"Rick Mullins is a successful businessman, husband, father, and grandfather. Rick Mullins brings the energy and optimism Virginia needs for new jobs. " Joseph P. Oddo, Independent Green Party State Chairman.  

"Rick Mullins is right. Healthcare for every Virginia must be a priority."  Gail for Rail Parker, Independent Green Party state Vice Chair.  

"Rick Mullins, The Independent Green Party is proud to endorse Rick Mullins for State Senate!"  Retired U.S. Navy Captain Ron Fisher, Independent Green Party state central committee.  

"Rick Mullins will bring jobs to our community. Rick Mullins proves he is a job creator."  George R. "Tex" Wood.  Independent Green Party 9th Congressional District Chairman.    


Vote Rick Mullins August 19th for State Senate 38th District!  





18 aug 14 @ 9:08 pm edt          Comments

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Green Party - Eco for the Economy key to success



  • JuergenTrittin

    Jürgen Trittin, Green Party

    Former Chairman of the Green parliamentary group in the German Bundestag, Juergen served 7 years as federal environment minister, current member of federal legislature


Complaints by European industry lobbyists’ is that energy costs are putting them at a “destructive” competitive disadvantage simply doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. Industry lobbyists will say either that the costs of labour are too high, or that their big problem is the price of energy. America’s historically low gas prices are at present the cause of yet more European moaning.

But it’s a lament that rarely holds up under examination of the facts. All too often, these complaints are part of a lobbying campaign that is essentially political. And when that’s not the case, we usually find there’s a lot of money at stake in industries that are reluctant to invest in adjusting to future challenges. And even when corporate leaders know that these investments are necessary, a majority of them still believe the cost should be paid by the taxpayer. That leads them to threaten using their deadliest weapon, the threat of job cuts and the relocation abroad of their factories and production operations.

The facts show how wrong they are. Energy costs account on average for less than 3% of gross production costs in Germany, whereas staffing costs account for about 20%. Even if you look at shares of gross value creation, the energy costs don’t exceed the 10% mark. Yet, industrial lobbies and trade associations continue to prophesy the end of the Western world.

“The real risks to competitiveness lie elsewhere. All of Europe is dependent on fossil fuel imports, and not just from Russia”

People, especially in Germany, like to hold the costs of the ambitious transformation of our energy system – theEnergiewende” – responsible for rising energy prices. This is mainly in relation to electricity prices, as oil is traded globally and the oil price for companies, say, in America is structured identically.

But the price of electricity for industry in countries like Germany has actually decreased in recent years. Electricity prices at the EEX energy exchange in Leipzig are now at their lowest point for eight years. This can be attributed mainly to the huge expansion of renewables, and also to the surplus of cheap coal-fired electricity, which in turn is causing CO2 emissions to soar, along with the costs of unchecked climate change.

Apologists for waning industrial competitiveness fall silent once a closer look is taken at the current account balance of payments. For years, praise for Germany as the world’s export champion has been just as loud as complaints that industry’s electricity prices are too high. Of course, the two don’t add up. Compared to the rest of the EU, Germany’s electricity prices have always been slightly higher, but this hasn’t stopped us from chalking up economic growth and trade surpluses, while also hugely reducing energy intensity and primary energy consumption by more than 35% over the last 25 years.

“If we continue burning coal, oil and gas for as long as it remains affordable, then we can kiss our climate goodbye”

The German Institute for Economic Research (DIW) has rightly pointed out that once again Germany has disproved the theory that “low energy prices equal reindustrialisation”. In spite of slightly higher comparative industrial electricity prices, the Federal Republic of Germany has for several years being seeing reindustrialisation. The driving forces behind this are chiefly efficient environmental and renewable energy technologies. Looking at Europe as a whole, 2013 was the year when the eurozone had the largest current account surpluses since 1997.

The industry lobby nevertheless continues to complain, largely because of developments in the U.S. energy market. The U.S. may have been able to curb energy prices through the aggressive exploitation of shale gas reserves, but for society as a whole, the effect of those efforts when measured in terms of the environmental aftermath and the failure to modernise, has been horrifyingly negative.

It now looks as if the real reason behind the lobbying campaign by various industries is the upcoming decision on what targets to set for Europe’s post-2020 CO2 emissions reduction, even though these are unlikely to be very ambitious. Instead of a 40% decrease, the bare minimum should be a 55% reduction in the EU by 2030 if we want to uphold the 2°C target. But this isn’t looking promising, and doubtless we will have to foot the bill for this lack of resolve in a few years’ time.

The real risks to competitiveness lie elsewhere. All of Europe is dependent on fossil fuel imports, and not just from Russia. Every year, Europe imports €.5 trillion worth of coal, oil and gas, along with uranium. Some 84% of the oil used in the EU is from outside of its borders, and for uranium, the figure is 100%, of which a fifth comes from Russia. For natural gas, the import figure is 45%.

The European Union is thus indulging in a prosperity transfer of absurd proportions. This dependency is a real challenge, especially as Europe’s scope for diplomatic action in its dealings with Russia proved to be very limited when it came to the breach of international law in Ukraine. Europe’s sovereignty is endangered by its staggering reliance on imports, and it is certainly not in the interest of industries to be reliant for their energy upon unreliable partners. If we want to break away, though, we must try to counteract our import dependence. One proposed solution is hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” of shale for gas, but it’s a particularly dubious idea, and not just from an environmental viewpoint. It is not an option for Europe, and to suggest that a battle with the U.S. over energy prices can be won by increasing the exploitation of Western Europe’s fossil reserves is very naive.

The key issue at hand isn’t the availability of fossil fuels; adequate energy supplies are still available, with many yet to be discovered, so we can, if we choose, continue down the misguided path of fossil-based production and energy supply for another 100 years or so without seeing an exorbitant price explosion. The environmental problem is a far more serious one. If we continue burning coal, oil and gas for as long as it remains affordable, then we can kiss our climate goodbye.

The true limit in using finite natural resources doesn’t lie in their availability. It lies in the fact that extracting, using and burning them is causing catastrophic environmental damage worldwide. If you convert the 2°C climate protection target into quantities of CO2 that we can still actually emit globally, you have a “budget” of around 800 gigatons. Put simply, from that standpoint not even half of the reserves of oil, gas and coal which could be extracted today can even be burnt.

We must counter the battle cry of Tea Party activists in the U.S. of “Drill, Baby, Drill” with a counter-cry of “Chill, Baby, Chill”! Leave the stuff where it is; underground. On top of this, there are other natural resources whose use and extraction also relate to the climate crisis. Producing and processing steel, cement, paper, plastic and aluminium, accounts for around half of industrial CO2 emissions. Unconventional extraction of oil and gas is ecologically harmful for many other reasons as well. It consumes far more energy and water than conventional extraction, and it damages the environment and groundwater at the site of extraction. Oil sands extraction in Canada accounts for 40% of Canadian CO2 emissions, with fracking also consuming huge quantities of water.

Mining, which is sharply increasing around the world, is generally connected with destruction of the countryside, the production of slag and waste, and energy and water consumption. Air is polluted, soil contaminated, forests axed, seas contaminated by deep-sea drilling, countryside destroyed by opencast mines. This isn’t the worst dependency, because for a host of resources just a few countries, sometimes only one, control the market. The Democratic Republic of Congo, for instance, supplies around half of the cobalt extracted worldwide, that we need for batteries, smartphones or electric cars. The working conditions there are life-threatening and exploitative, so we cannot import this resource with a clear conscience. 


“The expansion of renewables will stabilise electricity prices, increase security of supply and lower the downstream costs of climate change and high-risk technologies like nuclear power”

The American focus solely on increasing the gas supply will not solve any problems for Europe; at best it delays them by a few years. Worse, it results in increased energy consumption and at the same time reduces the incentives for energy efficiency and energy savings. Right now, a temporary increase in supply from the U.S. as the future main gas exporter could exert downward pressure on world gas prices, including in Europe, but in the medium-term, the upshot will be a greater thirst for energy. In any case, quenching energy demands will not be easy, while rising COemissions will exacerbate climate change on an ever more massive scale. It should be clear that the U.S. hasn’t found a solution, but instead another global time bomb.

The answer to the challenges facing Europe’s competitiveness can be summed up in four steps. First, the expansion of renewables will stabilise electricity prices, increase security of supply and lower the downstream costs of climate change and high-risk technologies like nuclear power. And, second, by raising energy efficiency we will lower the already relatively low share of gross production costs that result from energy costs, and we’ll be leveraging our technological edge systematically to expand Europe’s market position.

Third, significant savings can come from modernising buildings to make them more energy efficient, and by reducing vehicle energy consumption. As well as these savings, there are huge investment possibilities, especially for medium-sized enterprises, and there are also innovation possibilities for Europe’s carmakers. Finally, the need to become less dependent on energy imports is clear. That would keep value-added inside the EU, and do much to bring about the stable prices, reliable overall conditions and technological innovation that industry has been calling for. These are the real competitiveness factors.

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Agreed; but surely the basic problem is EU states’ divergent energy policies

Energy prices are key to the EU economy and the overall well-being of society. As well as factors like productivity, innovation, labour costs and the legal environment, energy prices are an important indicator of an economy’s competitiveness, which is why this issue has gained momentum over the last few years. It is also a highly sensitive topic that’s often dominated by ideology and caricatures. So there is a critical need for reality checks and independent analysis based on facts and figures. To better understand the complex challenges addressed by Jürgen Trittin, and to get a clearer picture of the real costs of energy transitions in Europe, a few preliminary clarifications seem called for.

Jürgen Trittin is right about a number of the issues that need emphasis. High energy prices are not only by driven environmental regulation but by taxes and levies, and also by transportation and fossil fuel costs, with the latter representing a growing part of the EU’s trade deficits. The energy price debate also goes far beyond the U.S. shale gas picture, for although there are clear EU-U.S. price differentials for gas, shale isn’t a silver bullet that will decrease energy prices in Europe. If fossil fuels have a role to play in Europe’s energy transition, it will be mainly as a bridge technology: I say that confidently because the actions needed to tackle climate change cannot wait until present resources are totally depleted before others are developed that can ensure the energy transition.

A point Jürgen Trittin misses, though, is the diversity of energy profiles and realities within the EU. The EU’s internal energy market has to some extent contained energy price increases, especially for wholesale electricity markets, but nevertheless clear it is that energy in Europe will not be cheap for the foreseeable future. There are also huge disparities still to be addressed between EU member states, and within industries. Most German manufacturing companies spend an average of 1.6% of their turnover on energy, but for industries like aluminum, steel, cement, paper, chemicals and glass, anywhere between 10% and 25% of their sales revenue is accounted for by energy inputs.

Germany’s “Energiewende”, is often hailed, perhaps too often, as ‘the’ reference for a successful energy transition, and Jürgen Trittin himself advances that argument. Certainly it’s an impressive project, with huge implications for Germany, for its neighbours and for the EU as a whole, but it a unique case that cannot easily be duplicated in other countries. Lessons need to be drawn from both its successes and failures. Developing renewable energy technologies on a large scale in Germany and elsewhere in the EU has yielded many benefits, as Trittin rightly points out, but it has also raised issues that need to be addressed thoroughly, notably the integration of renewables into the market and into the grid.

Some industries in Europe have improved their energy intensity to an impressive degree, but in several areas there is still much progress to be made. Efficiency technologies are key to the EU’s ability to cope with high energy prices while achieving its energy transition. There is still a wide gap between expectation and reality, with much untapped potential in economies of scale and the improvement of existing technologies. EU countries in central and eastern Europe still behind, and need greater EU support if they are to reach the European average.

The key challenge is going to be the level of the EU’s ambition for becoming a low-carbon economy, and doing so in a cost-effective way. As well as being a question of political will, economic strategy, and industrial vision it’s going to need a strong consensus within the EU on who should pay for what in Europe’s energy transition.

17 jun 14 @ 8:35 am edt          Comments

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Petra Kelly, Green Party founder.

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