Germany’s Energiewende threatens to follow a similar path as the Berlin-Brandenburg airport debacle, but on a far greater scale. When bureaucrats take over project engineering...
Berlin-Brandenburg BER airport: Construction began in 2006 with operation scheduled to begin in 2011. And now as 2017 nears the end, BER is not even close to opening. Currently it is well over 2000 days behind schedule. Massive technical deficiencies with the airport’s safety systems plague the entire project, and now it is questionable whether the airport will even open in 2021.
Bureaucrat run airport-project turns into national embarrassment
BER’s original estimated price tage was 2.5 billion euros, but since then the costs have ballooned to 6.6 billion euros today. Worse: billions more are expected, nobody knows when the project will be completed, and there’s even talk the project might be abandoned altogether! It is undoubtedly the country’s greatest construction and engineering debacle so far this century. The joke today: It would be cheaper to move the entire city of Berlin to another airport then to sort through the catastrophe that is the BER airport.
What happened? Ideological bureaucrats took over project engineering
At the early design and construction stages, the project was run by Berlin’s socialist-green bureaucrats – who thought they could handle it better than real builders. These bureaucrats unfortunately failed to adequately involve the necessary technical and engineering experts during the crucial early stages and the result was a plan that was so flawed that today it looks more like an animal begging to be put out of its misery.
Naturally their airport concept and plans sailed through the approval process and construction started in earnest. But before long it was discovered that the BER design was fraught with technical and safety deficiencies, and it’s opening has been pushed back every year since 2011. The truth is that no one knows how to resolve the huge flaws.
BER is a classic case of what can happen if the right people are not running the job and ideology takes over.
Energiewende: a potential folly 200 times greater than BER
As hard as it may be to believe, a similar German-made engineering catastrophe but of far greater dimensions looms: the revamping of the country’s electricity supply infrastructure so that it is “green” – the so-called “Energiewende“. Like BER, the Energiewende too was managed by bureaucrats, who in the wake of the Fukushima disaster ordered Germany’s top power generation experts at the country’s leading power companies to stand back and keep silent as the country fast-tracked from nuclear and fossil fuel power over to clean, green energies.
Merkel government decides to run the power industry
The rush decision was made by Angela Merkel and her CDU/CSU party. Power engineering experts were not invited on the board commissioned to launch it and thus they had no input or say on the matter. The politicians were warned of the risks of flooding the existing grid with unstable energy, but they obstinately brushed the warnings aside and went full throttle into the Energiewende. They believed they knew better.
Today, some 6 years later, the Energiewende is looking a lot like the BER debacle: an engineering embarrassment and looming catastrophe. The major grid infrastructure revamping is still decades off and the power grid already frequent teeters on the brink of collapse. While BER is the airport without adequate fire and safety systems, Germany’s Energiewende is the nation’s power supply without a proper grid. In both cases the costs are spiraling out of control and no one knows if it’s ever going to work at all. It is wild experimentation, and not engineering.
172,000 outages last year
To illustrate how far along the road to disaster Germany’s once impeccably stable grid has come, the online hessenschau.de here reports that for the second time in a just few days the central city of Wiesbaden has seen its power black out. It writes:
On Saturday evening in parts of Wiesbaden the power went out for 2 hours. […]. It is the second power outage within just a few days.”
Over the past years the German state of Hesse has been plagued by power outages, Hessen public television (HR) reported here, as it pondered why Hesse has become so prone to blackouts. HR cites the Bundesnetzagentur (Federal Grid Agency), which says there are over 172,000 power outages annually, which is some 470 daily, and that last winter multiple power plants had to be switched simultaneously because “the German grid was on the brink of collapse.”
Volatile wind and sun
Prof. Peter Birkner blames the volatile supply of green energies: “The wind does not ask what we want, what we consume, and just blows as it wills” and that “the power grid is not designed for it“.
While the BER debacle has cost over 6 billion euros so far, the Energiewende has already committed close to 200 times that amount of money: over 1 trillion euros!
According to Frankfurt’s Fire Department spokesman Andreas Mohn, the city’s 27 mobile power generators would not be able to handle a power outage and citizens would have to “fend for themselves“:
That starts with a few candles, food, water and maybe a possibility of something for heating, a gas cooker or something.”
Government information pamphlet on what to do in the event of a blackout
Little wonder that in 2015 the BBK – Germany’s version of FEMA – released a pamphlet advising citizens on how to proceed in the event of power outages.
State media has “diesel generators” on stand-by
Even German HR public television has taken precautions against power outages and has “large diesel generators on hand in the event of a blackout” which would switch on within 14 seconds.
According to Hesse HR public broadcasting:
Short periods of time would be bridged over by thousands of batteries. Then diesel would take over. With over 40,000 liters in the tank, HR would be able to broadcast completely on its own for up to two weeks”.
It’s nice to hear that public funded German broadcasting would keep warm and running in a blackout. The citizens, on the other hand, would be left out in the cold. This is the utopia that green bureaucrats are bringing to Germany.
Other countries should think twice before heading down this path of folly.
H/t reader kevin a.
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