Saturday, September 7, 2019

GWPF Newsletter: German Wind Lobby Demands Endangered Species Protection To Be Watered Down

German Wind Farm Expansion Threatens Species Extinction

In this newsletter:

1) German Wind Lobby Demands Endangered Species Protection To Be Watered Down
Daniel Wentzel, Die Welt, 4 September 2019
2) German Wildlife Foundation Criticises Wind Lobby Attack On Species Protection 
Pressportal, 5 September 2019

3) Report Blames Wind Turbines For Bird Slaughter
Energy Reporters, 31 August 2019 
4) Solar Energy Badly Harms The Environment. It Must Be Taxed, Not Subsidised
Sanjeev Sabhlok, The Times of India, 2 September 2019 
5) Asia’s Growing Coal Use Could Negate Global Climate Agenda, Un Says
Reuters, 4 September 2019 

Full details:

1) German Wind Lobby Demands Endangered Species Protection To Be Watered Down
Daniel Wentzel, Die Welt, 4 September 2019

The ban on killing endangered species is turning into an ‘absolute obstacle to planning’ new wind farms in Germany. Now, the wind lobby wants to water down conservation laws protecting endangered species.

The wind power industry can hardly erect any new turbines because of a flood of complaints. The ban on killing endangered wildlife is turning into an “absolute obstacle to planning” – extrapolated death figures show that tens of thousands of birds are affected.

When the wind power industry presented its interim results at the end of July, the shock waves sent far beyond the eco-electricity scene: in the first six months of the year, only 35 new wind turbines were added in Germany. The German Wind Energy Association (BWE) actually considers it necessary to build more than 1400 turbines per year in order to achieve the national renewable energy targets by 2030.

The German government has been alarmed. It had just set itself the 65% target of renewable electricity by 2030. Now wind energy, the most important driving force behind the green energy transition, is at risk of falling away just when young climate activists are dominating the headlines and citizens’ climate fears prove to be important for the election. Federal Economics Minister Peter Altmaier (CDU) has therefore convened a “wind energy summit” this Thursday.

The wind power industry has very precise ideas as to what this meeting must decide in order to get their business going again. Most wind farm projects fail because of complaints from forest and bird conservationists and the lack of permits under species protection law. The ban on killing endangered wildlife under Section 44 of the Federal Nature Conservation Act has developed into an “absolute obstacle to planning” from the point of view of the industry. At Altmaier’s Wind Summit, the industry wants to remove this obstacle.

It is not often that an eco-industry, of all industries, demands that conservation laws should be softened. After all, the “Progress Study” already estimated in 2015 that the then 12,841 wind turbines in the North German study area were responsible for the deaths of 7865 buzzards, 10,370 ringed pigeons, 11,843 mallard ducks and 11,197 gulls within one year.

Victim numbers such as these happened although the nature conservation authorities had a say in the approval of the wind parks. In view of the thousands of dead animals, one could conclude that the officials were not exactly overly strict. But that is exactly what the German Wind Energy Association claims.

Many of the criteria are a matter of interpretation

In an “action plan”, the wind lobby speaks of an “often exaggerated, disproportionate interpretation of species protection”. This, they demand, must be ended as quickly as possible: “Species protection must be properly applied in harmony with wind energy”, the association demands. And from the lobbyists’ point of view “appropriate” means explicitly: “In case of doubt for wind energy”.

After all, doubts are common. The question of when exactly a species is endangered and what part traffic, agriculture or wind power plays in its existence is a scientific grey area. The question of how close a wind farm may be to breeding grounds until the legal criterion of an “increased risk of killing” is fulfilled is also a matter of interpretation.

If, however, the prescribed investigations do not produce clear results in individual cases, the action plan states that “in case of doubt, wind energy should be chosen because of the considerable public interest in a climate-friendly and thus species-protection-friendly energy supply”.

“In case of doubt for wind energy” is a practical motto for the industry also because it can generate doubts at will itself: According to current regulations, wind power investors pay for the bird-watching survey themselves and can choose the appropriate expert accordingly.

Birdwatchers thus have a certain financial incentive to simply look the other way when the breeding site of a threatened bird endangers the client’s project: One wants to be recommended finally still further. Other people with reservations would no longer have a chance against a favour appraisal, if in case of doubt wind power was chosen anyway.

If the approval practice of the authorities changes in this sense, the obstacle of species protection for the wind industry is largely removed. But the windmill lobby is demanding even more: If the ban on killing cannot be avoided in the approval procedure, an exception should be granted. After all, there are “compelling reasons of overriding public interest” for the expansion of wind power. In order to ensure this, the state ministries are to stipulate in legal ordinances that wind power projects are, by definition, always “an exceptional reason in the urgent interest of climate protection”.

The unique privilege of a species protection carte blanche justifies the industrial sector in its action plan with a catchy equation: “Expansion of wind energy is climate protection, and climate protection is species protection”. Scientists and lawyers, however, consider this final justification of the wind power primacy to be questionable and question both parts of the equation at the same time.

Martin Gellermann, a lawyer specialising in planning and environmental law, refers to up to 250,000 bats and thousands of birds that die each year at wind turbines: “If the use of wind energy has such consequences, it is quite bold to present it as a means of species protection.”

Germany’s share of global CO2 emissions is about 2.1 percent, while only about three percent of the primary energy consumption responsible for this is covered by wind energy, Gellermann points out: “The contribution to global climate protection is therefore very modest and certainly does not justify a public interest in German wind power that could justify letting the interests of species and biodiversity protection, which is a constitutional right, take a back seat in case of doubt.”

In detail, the demands of the wind industry “do not stand up to scrutiny in accordance with the relevant EU and international law anyway”, the lawyer says, because: “In substance, the protection of individuals of endangered animal species enshrined in current law is to be relativised here through a community-based consideration”.

Martin Kment, Managing Director of the Institute for Environmental Law at the University of Augsburg, has similar reservations. There are exceptions to the ban on killing: beavers that destroy dikes or cormorants that empty fishing grounds could be hunted under certain circumstances.

Such concrete, spatially limited exceptions “cannot, however, be derived in the case of wind power on a blanket and comprehensive basis,” says Kment.

“In principle, a comprehensive privilege for wind power must never lead to the extinction of a species so that small advances can be made in favour of the climate”.

Even the basic assumption that climate change threatens biodiversity is not universally accepted by all scientists. The evolutionary biologist and ecologist Josef Reichholf, for example, believes:

“Climate protection has little to do with the protection of species, and in Germany it has almost nothing to do with it.”

Climatic change is “completely secondary for us compared to the main cause of species endangerment, agriculture, in particular massive overfertilization and the use of poisons”.

Especially many of the endangered species on the “Red List” are heat-loving species. “The warm summers of recent years have been favourable for many rare species,” says Reichholf.

“The wind power industry uses the fears stirred up in the public eye and pushes species protection forward in order to conceal its own interests – to say the least, this is highly dubious.”

This time the wind lobby cannot expect any backing from the otherwise often well-meaning nature conservation associations. “The role of wind energy as a hazard factor for certain populations of birds and bats is simply played down or negated, existing scientific findings ignored or twisted,” says the Nature Conservation Association of Germany (Nabu) which criticises the wind industry’s action plan. The Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN), which knows both the needs of climate policy and the wind industry “does not share many demands” either. There is “no need” for exceptions to species protection, it says.

Translation GWPF

Full story (in German)

2) German Wildlife Foundation Criticises Wind Lobby Attack On Species Protection
Pressportal, 5 September 2019

At Germany's 'Summit on the Future of Wind Energy' held today in Berlin the German Wind Energy Association (BWE) is demanding that nature conservation and species protection and the associated legislation should be subordinated to the expansion of wind energy. This has to be rejected with all clarity.

"The great and politically recognised challenge of preserving biodiversity in Germany must not be endangered by an approach that - in the words of the BWE - "in case of doubt, wind energy must be prioritised, "writes Prof. Fritz Vahrenholt, the director of the German Wildlife Foundation, in a letter to Peter Altmaier, Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy.

The aim of the BWE is manifest, to remove hurdles of the approval process for the construction of wind turbines so that the last refuges of wildlife such as large forests can be harnessed for wind energy. The BWE also wants to soften the prohibition on killing endangered species defined in the Federal Nature Conservation Act.

“There is hardly any other industrial sector in Germany that impacts the populations of birds of prey and bats as badly as wind power." If - as requested by the BWE - strict rules of distance of wind turbines to the breeding grounds should no longer apply, we risk the extinction of species such as the Red Kite or the Common Buzzard.”

“In Germany, around 12,000 birds of prey are already killed each year by wind turbines. It means that when it comes to weighing up between wind energy with species protection, we need to side with nature. Thus, there is no place for wind energy in forests,” Prof. Vahrenholt said.

"The construction of wind turbines in forest areas impairs the complex ecosystem with all its important functions as a habitat, a food source and a climate regulator is impaired,” Vahrenholt warns.

The needs of forest mammals and birds such as black storks, wild cats or bats fall by the wayside when forests are turned into industrial landscapes. After all, that's what happens if the wind turbines, which are up to 240m high, dominate the airspace and access roads carve up the forest.

3) Report Blames Wind Turbines For Bird Slaughter
Energy Reporters, 31 August 2019 

A report from the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) says wind turbines are “doing great harm to wildlife” as European countries try to cut emissions to comply with 2030 environment targets.

The GWPF, which says it is neutral on this issue of renewable energy, argued that “many environmental problems come with every form of energy generation”.

For the new target of achieving 65 per cent of the German electricity needs from renewables by 2030, the country needs five new 3-megawatt plants, the Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry (DIHK) said. “And even that will only be enough if power consumption does not increase,” said Achim Dercks, the DIHK’s deputy general manager.

An earlier report, Green Killing Machines, specifically targeted wind turbines with most research revolving around Germany.

Oliver Krüger from the University of Bielefeld said birds of prey and ducks were being killed “in their thousands” by turbines.

The GWPF said, “the risk to these species is so great that there is a possibility of whole populations being wiped out”.

Peter Henderson of Pisces Conservation in the UK told the NGO that “about 200,000 bats are annually killed at onshore wind turbines in Germany alone. These numbers are sufficient to produce concern for future populations, as bats are long-lived and reproduce slowly, so cannot quickly replace such losses”.

Some wind farms have been placed on bird migration routes in southern Spain and California. Now placement has improved and some turbines are shut down during nesting periods. Germany, with 29,000 wind turbines, is the focus of most of the NGO’s attention.

Krüger, who worked on the Progress study of the impact of land-based turbines on birds in northern Germany, said: “After walking nearly 7,700km we found 291 collision victims … this is almost certainly just a fraction of the true death toll and so we have to extrapolate.”

Krüger said for areas with small or falling populations “the most likely scenario is that wind turbines will have a population-relevant effect on the buzzard and the red kite”.

The GWPF said turbines within German forests “can become the only hunting grounds in the open country that are accessible – and thus preferred – to red kites”. The German Wildlife Foundation has called for a ban on new wind turbines in forests until further studies can be conducted.

Full story

4) Solar Energy Badly Harms The Environment. It Must Be Taxed, Not Subsidised
Sanjeev Sabhlok, The Times of India, 2 September 2019 

Solar energy can do a few useful things. It can power a radio in an off-grid location. But it can’t support our day-to-day life.

The Modi government has been shovelling scarce taxpayer resources into solar energy, with a further $6.5 billion promised till 2022. This is over and above indirect subsidies that people pay through higher electricity bills because of renewable energy certificates. And while Donald Trump did the right thing by walking out of the Paris Agreement, Mr Modi unthinkingly remains committed to it and Niti Ayog has been touting subsidised electric vehicles.

Our party disagrees with this approach. First, because we oppose subsidies for any industry. But second, because we believe there is a strong case to impose Pigovian taxes on solar energy given the economic and environmental harm it causes.

Solar energy can do a few useful things. It can power a radio in an off-grid location. But it can’t support our day-to-day life.

The sun’s incoming energy is extremely dilute, requiring panels spread over vast swathes of land to absorb it, thus pushing out forests and harming biodiversity. The 648 MW Kamuthi solar plant in Tamil Nadu covers ten square kilometres. A tenth of that land would have been sufficient for a larger capacity nuclear facility.

A much bigger problem is that solar energy is only available when the sun shines. I installed a rooftop system last year. As expected, this system dies at night. But it is a complete joke during winter when it generates less than 10% of its capacity for days on end. It is simply not fit for purpose.

While the benefits to society of solar energy are close to non-existent, its costs are huge. Just by reading newspaper headlines you would never know. “Grid parity” and “cheap solar” has become part of the propaganda cleverly crafted by solar lobbyists and “researchers” to bilk taxpayers. Next time you read about cheap solar energy, insist on getting the full costs.

Rooftop solar is a massive drain. My rooftop system is a good example. Even after a taxpayer subsidy of $3,888 it cost me $10,730. And after a year’s use it has generated far less electricity than I was promised, so instead of a 6-year payback period it will now take 11 years – but only if I never spend any money to maintain it, the inverter never goes bad, the system somehow lasts 11 years and feed-in tariffs don’t reduce. Hard to think of a more effective way to burn money.

But what about large-scale solar projects which allegedly generate peak daytime electricity at a cost comparable with fossil fuels? Such claims are half-truths and hide much more than they disclose.

The only way to compare the costs of solar power with regular energy sources is to include all the costs of solar energy, including battery storage. And when that is done, solar turns out to be a deadly attack on the economy.

Batteries store almost no energy compared with regular fuels and this won’t get much better. Advances in battery technology are innately constrained by physical laws. In a March 2019 report, Manhattan Institute scholar Mark P. Mills showed that “$200,000 worth of Tesla batteries, which collectively weigh over 20,000 pounds, are needed to store the energy equivalent of one barrel of oil”. And that “the energy equivalent of the aviation fuel used by an aircraft flying to Asia would take $60 million worth of Tesla-type batteries weighing five times more than that aircraft”. Imagine the ticket price for such a flight even if such a plane could take off.

Battery production processes consume vast amounts of energy, with “the energy equivalent of about 100 barrels of oil” required “to fabricate a quantity of batteries that can store a single barrel of oil-equivalent energy”. And the natural resources needed for batteries are extremely scarce. A dramatic escalation of mining would be needed to build a solar grid with its own batteries.

But even then it would take a thousand years. “The annual output of Tesla’s Gigafactory, the world’s largest battery factory, stores [only] three minutes’ worth of annual U.S. electricity demand. It would require 1,000 years of production to make enough batteries for two days’ worth of U.S. electricity demand”.

The idea of mass adoption of electric vehicles is a hallucination. EV batteries can hardly store any energy and need vast amounts of time to re-charge. And time is never free. These vehicles are not fit for purpose.
But don’t we get huge environmental benefits from solar? Not at all. Instead, solar energy is one of the worst enemies of the environment, even excluding the massive loss of natural habitat. Solar waste is extremely toxic. Michael Shellenberger has found that “solar panels create 300 times more toxic waste per unit of energy than nuclear power plants”.

The National Geographic reported in 2014 that almost all solar PV modules use at least one rare or precious metal like silver, tellurium or indium. Most of these can devastate wildlife and even kill humans when they leach into ground water. And Elon Musk is frustrated about his inability to get toxic cobalt out of batteries. One shudders to imagine how a country like India, with no capacity to manage even normal waste, will deal with kilometre-high mountains of lethal solar waste.

Full Post

5) Asia’s Growing Coal Use Could Negate Global Climate Agenda, Un Says
Reuters, 4 September 2019 

Asia’s heavy and expanding reliance on coal power risks cancelling out global progress towards preventing catastrophic climate change, a top United Nations official warned on Wednesday.

While developing economies such as India, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam increasingly turn to cheap coal to meet fast-growing demand for electricity, some nations are ramping up use of renewable energy, although its share of the total fuel mix for power generation is still small.

Asian countries must set more ambitious goals to contribute to global efforts to curb climate change, said Ovais Sarmad, the deputy executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

“There are certain countries in this region still relying heavily on coal and fossil fuels as sources of energy, and in some areas that is growing,” he told Reuters in an interview.

“That’s a very, very serious problem because … all those gains that had been made in other parts of the world would be completely negated.”

The comment came as officials of Asian nations met in the Thai capital of Bangkok this week to discuss ways to spur regional, and global, efforts to fight climate change.

The Paris Agreement aims to limit the global average temperature increase to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius, while seeking to tighten the goal to 1.5 C. Current policies put the world on track for a rise of at least 3 C by century’s end.

Full story

see also IEA: Coal Boom In India And Southeast Asia To Cancel Out Declines In USA & Europe

The London-based Global Warming Policy Forum is a world leading think tank on global warming policy issues. The GWPF newsletter is prepared by Director Dr Benny Peiser - for more information, please visit the website at

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