Reality has overtaken hype in Germany, which has been marketing itself as a world leader in "green energy":
IT'S been a black Christmas for green thinkers as Germany, the world leader in rooftop solar and pride of the renewable energy revolution has confirmed its rapid return to coal. --
Countries such as Germany that have been most outspoken about climate change mitigation are reporting increasing carbon emissions and rising energy costs.
The US - derided by environmental campaigners as too slow to respond to the climate change challenge - has reduced its carbon emissions significantly while simultaneously lowering energy prices, fuelling a much needed resurgence in manufacturing.
The divergence has come about largely because while Europe has pushed headlong into renewables with generous public subsidies, the US has harnessed new technology to unlock vast resources of unconventional oil and gas.
This meant in 2012 the US spent about one-third as much as the EU on renewable energy subsidies, $21 billion against $57bn, according to IEA figures.
It all adds an ironic twist to the campaign mounted against the US by European nations for its refusal to sign up to the Kyoto Protocol to cut carbon dioxide emissions.
While the German wind and solar energy lobbies have been busy peddling the "success" of their subsidized production facilities, the reality on the ground looked somewhat different in early December:
The scale of the "intermittency" problem for renewables - and the problem it presents for policymakers and energy consumers - was outlined in Die Welt, which reported that Germany's wind and solar power production effectively stopped in early December.
"More than 23,000 wind turbines stood still," it said. "One million photovoltaic systems stopped work completely.
"For a whole week, coal, nuclear and gas power plants had to generate an estimated 95 per cent of Germany's electricity supply."
The doldrums are the flip side to the triumphant statements from renewable energy companies when production figures spike in times of favourable weather.
This is a primary reason why political support for renewables is starting to wear thin. Indications are a Europe-wide squeeze is on, with the European Commission reportedly preparing to order an end to price subsidies for wind and solar by the end of the decade.
According to Britain's The Telegraph, the commission, which oversees the European single market, is preparing to argue that the onshore wind and solar power industries are mature and should be allowed to operate without support from taxpayers.
Frustration is also increasing at the costly failure of several multi-billion-dollar offshore wind farm developments which had once been widely touted as the future of renewable power.
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