German Renewable Power: Making Sustainability Unsustainable?

Der Speigel reports that Germany's rushed program to convert to renewable energy is already imposing an economic burden. Part of the problem is the inherent instability of power produced by renewable sources such as wind and solar:

The problem is that wind and solar farms just don't deliver the same amount of continuous electricity compared with nuclear and gas-fired power plants. To match traditional energy sources, grid operators must be able to exactly predict how strong the wind will blow or the sun will shine.

A national energy expert said:

"In the long run, if we can't guarantee a stable grid, companies will leave (Germany). "As a center of industry, we can't afford that."

An important principle of the international impetus to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is that there be little or no economic loss. Certainly, an industrial powerhouse like Germany cannot subject itself to such risks.

At the same time, other locations would be similarly threatened by implementation of renewable power mandates whose "time has not yet come." Not only is there the potential to inflict economic harm on industry (and consumers through higher prices), but higher electricity prices would reduce discretionary incomes and could lead to greater poverty rates. The eradication of poverty has recently been declared to be a virtual prerequisite to sustainability at the Rio conference.

eradicating poverty should be given the highest priority, overriding all other concerns to achieve sustainable development.

Environmental sustainability requires economic sustainability. A litany of failures could do serious damage to GHG emission reduction efforts.