Economic costs

Trash, trees, and taxes: the cost of Germany’s renewable energy transition

Energy CollectiveSeptember 16, 2013
By Max Luke, Jessica Lovering, and Alex Trembath

Germany’s renewable energy transition, the “Energiewende,” has long been a subject of scorn among conservatives, who have argued that it is a massive ratepayer-subsidized boondoggle that has harmed Germany’s economy and imposed significant regressive costs on poor and working class energy consumers. But the last several months have seen growing skepticism about the Energiewende from the center-left as well.

Both Der Spiegel and Slate have published lengthy investigative pieces raising troubling questions about the costs and the environmental benefits of Germany’s headlong pursuit of an all-renewable energy future. Even left-leaning Dissent Magazine recently published a long expose about the failure of the Energiewende to reduce carbon emissions, concluding that Germany’s enormous investments in renewables, together with plans to phase out its nuclear fleet, would cost the nation a generation in the fight against global warming.

Read more – original article

Germany: Action Group Darmstadt Manifesto

With great anxiety many citizens in our country are observing the progressive destruction of the countryside and the cultural-historically grown phenotype in the environs of towns and villages through the constantly increasing number of wind turbines. In addition, there are unacceptable worries for human-beings as well as a heavy depreciation of immovables and a danger to the animal world.

With the exploitation of the wind energy a technology is being promoted which is completely insignificant for the power supply, the preservation of natural resources, and the protection of the climate. The public promotion funds could be far better spent on the increase in efficiency of the power stations, on the economical consumption of power, and on the scientific basic research in the field of energy.

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Turbine Trouble: Ill Wind Blows for German Offshore Industry

August 2, 2013
By Michael Fröhlingsdorf

Only recently, the offshore wind industry was seen as an opportunity to regenerate Germany’s coast. But amid changing political attitudes and spiraling costs, several companies are struggling to survive. Is the wind boom over before it even really began?

The new power plant 15 kilometers (9 miles) off the North Sea island of Borkum is a masterpiece of German engineering. In only 14 months, experts anchored dozens of giant rotors to the sea floor. The 150-meter (492-foot) wind turbines at the Riffgat offshore wind farm work perfectly.

Providing clean electricity to 120,000 households, Riffgat was expected to become a milestone of the federal government’s shift away from nuclear power and toward green energy.

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Keith Stelling 7.0 – Requirements for clause 17(2)(c) are not met

7.0 Requirements for clause 17(2)(c) are not met.

The MNR defines overall benefit as:
1. “increasing the number of reproductively-capable individuals of the species living in the wild;
2. “increasing the distribution of the species within its natural range;
3. “increasing the viability or resilience of existing population(s);
4. “bringing about an abatement or reversal of a declining population trend (i.e. reduction of key threats to the species survival);
5. or “increasing the quality or amount of habitat for the species”. (23)

Where there is an increased potential for risk to the species or its habitat or proposed overall benefit actions carry a higher degree of uncertainty, determination of the adequacy of the overall benefit plan will err on the side of caution in favour of affording greater benefits to the species or habitat.

The MNR policy decisions are required to be based upon the principles that the “MNR staff should exercise caution and special concerns for natural values in the face of . . . uncertainty” and that “it is less costly and more effective to anticipate and prevent negative environmental impacts before
undertaking new activities than it is to correct environmental problems after the fact”.

By issuing “Overall Benefit Permits”, it appears that the MNR would be failing to anticipate and prevent the negative environmental impacts outlined above. The MNR would also be failing to recognize the threat of significant reduction or loss of biological diversity associated with the issuing of “Overall Benefit Permits”.

The action agreed to in the permits does not reduce key threats to these endangered species’ survival but rather compounds them.
There is every reason to believe that the increased potential for risk to the species and its habitat or proposed overall benefit actions carry a higher degree of uncertainty. However there is no evidence to show that “determination of the adequacy of the overall benefit plan has erred on the side of caution in favour of affording greater benefits to the species or habitat”.

It is therefore “necessary to require demonstration of the overall benefit before the proposed activity may commence”. However, demonstration to the contrary has already been provided at Wolfe Island. (24)

1. (i) There is no evidence that the mitigation plan has considered the cumulative negative effect of wind turbine development across Ontario in terms of collision mortality and habitat degradation to migrating passerines.
(ii) Nor has it taken into account, the known species sensitivity to habitat degradation and fragmentation—the single most important factor in these species decline.
(iii) The MOE and the MNR have not taken precautionary measures with regard to noise impacts from wind turbine developments on these species. Nor have they considered the masking effect of turbine blades which biologists believe is a threat to wildlife survival.
(iv) The MNR makes no indication that it has considered noise from wind turbines including low frequency noise as part of the cumulative impacts analysis of the wind facility on these species which biologists have observed are sensitive to noise.

2. There is no evidence that the proposed activity meets the legislated requirements for an overall benefit permit as listed by the MNR in its Endangered Species Act Submission Standards for Activity Review and 17(2)(c) Overall Benefit Permits February 2012.

3. There is no evidence that “the determination of the sufficiency of overall benefit actions has involved the consideration of the baseline condition of the species (e.g., numbers, current state, trend, sensitivity to disturbance, life processes) or habitat (e.g., amount, current state, trend,
sensitivity to disturbance and functionality) that would be adversely affected by the activity”.

4. MNR must consider the cumulative effect on the Eastern Meadowlark and the Bobolink of the other “Overall Benefit Permits” granted or being considered across Ontario. (25)

5. The MNR must also consider “the severity, geographic extent, duration and permanency of the potential adverse effects likely to result from the proposed activity”; likewise, the cumulative long term, geographically extensive and permanent effect (at least for 20 years = 6 generations of Bobolinks and Eastern Meadowlarks) of multiple wind developments in Ontario and the Eastern USA as an additional limiting factor for these species.

6. It would appear from the above that, given the sensitivity of this ecological system the proposed overall benefit actions are biologically and ecologically” inappropriate for the species given sensitivity to habitat fragmentation and noise disturbance.

7. In view of the body of peer reviewed scientific knowledge referenced above, there is no evidence that the proposed actions are based on the best available scientific information, another legislative requirement.

8. Given the already documented vulnerability of these species to habitat fragmentation and disturbance, there is no reason to believe that “new knowledge acquired through actions to fill
critical information gaps” has the potential to contribute to an overall benefit plan where the lack of this knowledge is directly limiting the species’ protection and recovery. On the contrary, there is every reason to suggest that the activities allowed by the “Overall Benefit Permit” will directly lead to
the further decline of these species.

9. It has not been demonstrated that the overall benefit actions will improve the ability of the species at risk to carry out their various life processes; rather, in view of the scientific information available, quite the opposite effect is immediately foreseeable.

10. The MNR must recognize that “in some circumstances it may not be possible to achieve an overall benefit for the species”.

Keith Stelling – 2.0: Economic, social, and scientific considerations

R2.0 Economic, social, and scientific considerations.
Under the Environmental Bill of Rights, Ministry decision-making must include “social, economic and scientific considerations”.

2.1 Economic cost of wind turbines
While the government and proponents continue to claim that wind turbines create jobs and contribute to the growth of the provincial economy, this contention is contradicted by Ontario’s
experience. From records that have become available over the last year, it is now apparent that the economic impact of The Green Energy and Economy Act (GEA) on the Ontario economy has been a negative one. Most of the jobs predicted by the GEA have failed to materialize. Wind turbine installations have
required only small numbers of temporary construction workers. With the international trade ruling against Ontario manufactured components, future profitability looks bleak for wind turbine
manufacturing. Skyrocketing electricity rates are forcing manufacturers and high electricity consumption businesses to leave the province, taking jobs with them. The Ontario Auditor General’s 2011 Report on Renewable Energy Initiatives noted that uncalculated costs were adding to energy bills with the consequent negative effect on industry, employment and
the economy. He cited the millions it is costing electricity ratepayers to export wind energy more (5) often than not produced during times it can not be used on the grid (86% in 2010). “From 2005 to the end of our audit in 2011, Ontario received $1.8 billion less for its electricity exports than what it actually cost electricity ratepayers of Ontario”1

Operators of a wind development of 60 MW (slightly smaller than the one proposed for Amherst Island) are guaranteed $21 million per year.2 5045 MW of wind turbines are now3 in various stages of approval. This implies a committed charge to be borne by consumers of $1.76 billion per year, or over $336 per residential consumer on average. Even if an individual’s consumption falls, this committed expenditure must be recovered, so that would just result in an increase in rates to pay the
commitment. Storage options being discussed will more than double this committed cost. Most of the $1.76 billion will go offshore to big multinational energy corporations.

The construction of a 75-megawatt wind power facility on privately owned land on Amherst Island, in Loyalist Township, County of Lennox & Addington will not be of economic or social benefit to the Province.

2.2 The fallacy of CO2 savings
When the argument is made that without wind turbines there will be devastating global warming caused by galloping CO2 emissions and that neither birds and bats nor humans will survive is
fallacious because it assumes that industrial wind turbines when added to electricity grids reduce green house gas emissions. This is not true. CO2 emissions continue to rise in all countries that have installed wind turbines. (1) Auditor General’s 2011 Report on Renewable Energy Initiatives (Chapter 3 “Ministry of Energy: Electricity Sector—Renewable Energy Initiatives”), p. 112. (2) Based on an anticipated capacity factor of 30% and the feed in tariff guaranteed contract payment
of $135 per MWH, whether the energy is needed or not. (3) Identified by the OPA, IESO, and Environmental Registry.

It is also claimed that wind turbines are necessary to shut down coal generation. However wind cannot shut down coal because it is not a base line energy source. Its intermittency and
unpredictability require fossil-fuelled back up operating inefficiently 24/7.4 The Ontario Auditor General noted that the government was warned in 2007 that new wind power would create higher green house gas emissions.

5 Wind is not effective for displacing coal because wind energy availability is mismatched to demand. Much of the time in Ontario, both on a seasonal and a daily basis, wind is not available when needed. This is why wind energy introduces serious grid-management issues. Adding intermittent wind
output increases CO2 emissions. Experience gained with operating the existing wind turbines shows that in reality wind turbines are forcing non-carbon emitting generating sources to be less efficient, thereby unnecessarily increasing the warming of the atmosphere, discharging steam without generating electricity; or spilling water, while actually requiring on line excess capability of coal-fired and natural gas generators to be connected to the grid to provide back up for when the wind
generators drop in output.

This is happening with the current wind turbine penetration of 1726 MW on the IESO monitored system and 2015 MW in commercial operation (as identified by the Ontario Power Authority). A
further 3776 MW already under OPA contract is yet to be added to the system. When this magnitude of wind generation is added, either more base load nuclear units will be forced off line (as is already
4 In fact, coal generation is being increased in Germany as a result of the need to back up wind
5 A Multi-municipal Wind Turbine Working Group letter to the Minister of Energy (and copied to the Minister of Natural Resources) dated 15 March, 2013, provided data showing that “coal generation dropped from 40 TWh in 2003 to 4 TWh in 2012, not because of a new policy of “expanding
renewable sources of energy,” but as a result of:
 the restart of nuclear units that was already in progress in 2003 and improved performance
of other nuclear units, (~ 20 TWh increase in nuclear output from 2003 to 2012);
 the addition of natural gas fired generators (~ 10 TWh increase from 2003 to 2012);
 and a reduction in the Ontario demand of about 15 TWh due to the economic setback since 2006.
happening), which will require carbon emitting gas fired units to take up the slack when wind output falls, as it invariably does; or the wind generators will be paid to shut down (which also is already happening). The IESO has estimated this will cost consumers an additional $200 million a year. Thereis no rational economic or environmental basis for continuing to add more wind to the Ontario system.

2.3 Social issues
In the words of an article in Municipal and Planning Law Reports:
“Industrial wind farms have generated wide-spread controversy, focusing on potential adverse
human health effects and ecosystem harm within the context of the precautionary principle, and
more particularly on the threat to bats and birds which are most vulnerable during migration. . . . narrow appeal right to the Environmental Review Tribunal has replaced both the appeal process under the Environmental Bill of Rights, 1993 and pre-GEA opportunities to challenge approvals under municipal and provincial political and planning structures. The resulting loss of local authority and input has generated significant, organized public outcry. At present, Ontario’s permitting scheme for renewable energy undertakings is being challenged on issues of legal validity,
questions of best planning practices, and the role of local community consultation and participation”. There is widespread public outcry from conservationists and rural residents at the fact that that the
Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Natural Resources is doing nothing to defend sensitive environments from electricity generation industrialization. In every case it is left to private initiatives to mount a defence for sensitive wildlife habitats against what should never have been allowed under Ontario’s environmental legislation or Provincial Policy Statement in the first place.
6 Marguerite Moore. “THROWing the PreCAUTIONary Principle TO THE WIND: The Green Energy Act,
a Permitting Process in Search of the Precautionary Principle and the Principle of Subsidiarity”.

Municipal and Planning Law Reports (Articles). 4th series, 2010.
Citizens are increasingly expressing their anger and resentment at the Green Energy Act’s unrealistic and prejudicial reversal of onus clause which requires residents to prove harm to health and the environment before a development has even been constructed. Because the appeal must be submitted within 15 days of the project’s approval it is not easy to engage a lawyer or for him or her to prepare a case in time. This makes it virtually impossible to win an appeal. Tribunals have even adjusted hearing dates so that appellants’ lawyers were unable to present their cases because of previous commitments about which they had already informed the Tribunal.

The growing number of approvals requiring citizen appeals through Environmental Review Tribunals is placing a huge additional financial burden upon rural residents. This process takes private citizen funding out of the community– money which could be more beneficially used for local needs. Rural citizens are forced to raise the funds for these courtroom contests, heavily weighted in favour of deep pocketed developers supported by teams of expensive lawyers. They also face a team of government lawyers opposing them—lawyers they themselves are paying through their taxes. The unfair appeals process itself is a source of growing frustration and bitterness for country residents. Energy poverty, however, is a social issue that extends also to the urban population. It is resulting from the relentless increase in electricity rates caused by the reckless and uncalculated government contract commitments for renewable energy. It is especially vexatious for households where a wage earner is unemployed, for low income families and the elderly on fixed incomes. The green association with skyrocketing electricity rates has already been responsible for the fall of at least one European government.

The government’s ill-considered inflexibility insists that there are no adverse health effects from industrial wind turbines on the basis of the report by the Chief Medical Officer of Health—a report discredited by international medical professionals as flawed and based on an earlier industry-produced document. Those who are experiencing distress from turbines operating too close to their homes are outraged at repeated use of this report to dismiss their sufferings. They point out that it failed to consider all of the available research or even consult with actual persons living near the turbines. This ultimately untenable position has caused even more indignation now that a review by Grey-Bruce Medical Officer of Health, Hazel Lynne using more recent documents, has found 18 peer reviewed studies that found evidence of an association between wind turbines and distress among some people who live near them and three which indicated distress was dose related. Every time another turbine development is approved, public outrage in rural Ontario becomes stronger.

Scores of municipalities have now indicated that they are not willing hosts to wind turbines. This is a huge social issue which, along with growing urban dissatisfaction at skyrocketing electricity costs and government waste through gas plant and other scandals is destined to have considerable repercussions in the near future.

Keith Stelling – 9.0 – Conclusions & References

9.0 Conclusion
To issue an Overall Benefit Permit for the proposed Amherst Island project fails to protect and conserve significant wildlife habitat. It also contravenes existing provincial and federal legislation, fails to align with the Ministry’s own guidelines for issuing such permits, and wilfully misunderstands the body of scientific research that clearly demonstrates that habitat fragmentation and destruction leads to irreversible declines in threatened species and that providing alternative habitat is usually unsuccessful, especially in the case of these three species which are habitat sensitive.

(27) The recent history of the MNR in dealings with wind farms has demonstrated a deplorable failure of due diligence and a breach of trust. The MNR is complicit in NOT protecting our environment. It should be remembered that the public are paying MNR wages, not the wind farms.

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Germany: Mutiny in the Land of Wind Turbines – Winners & Losers (Part 3)

July 12, 2013
By Matthias Schulz

But scare tactics won’t work here. The costs of disposing of nuclear waste are also enormous. And nobody likes the moonscapes left behind by coal mining.

People are beginning to have second thoughts. The eastern state of Saxony has already downscaled its expansion plans. And the state of Thuringia to its west doesn’t want any wind turbines located in its forests.

Overall, however, the ranks of fearless politicians whose goal is to build an environmental utopia in Germany remain by and large unbroken.

Robert Habeck, a member of the Green Party who serves as environment minister for the northern state of Schleswig-Holstein, sees himself as an agent in the “undertaking of the century.” To underline his determination, he even calls himself the “Minister for the Energiewende.” Today, we are building the infrastructure that will ensure that energy is “as good as free for our children,” he says.

It’s hard to see exactly what he bases his calculation on. Consumers are currently paying more and more for power, while others are making a killing. Members of community-owned wind farms are being tempted with returns of between 6 and 9 percent. These profits are fed primarily by subsidies that have previously been hijacked from citizens.

Farmers are also making good money on the shift to wind power. Desirable locations for wind turbines can bring in more than €50,000 ($65,000) a year in rent in Bavaria. With prices like that, who wouldn’t want to help promote the cause of clean energy?

Baron Götz von Berlichingen, from the village of Jagsthausen in Baden-Württemberg, is a direct descendant of the knight celebrated by Goethe. Together with the power company EnBW, he is building 11 wind farms on his property. Used for farming, the land generated at the most €700 per hectare (2.5 acres) — a fraction of what it earns as a site for wind turbines.

According to opponents of wind power, that’s why permits to build wind farms are being handed out like there’s no tomorrow. They complain about “brainwashed climate apostles,” “traitors of the countryside” and “greedy power gamblers” who are prepared to sacrifice every last inch of the country to the Energiewende.

Sacrificing the Forests
They are right in claiming that growth is rampant. The German government wants to have renewable sources supply 35 percent of Germany’s energy by 2020. And, in their excessive zeal, the federal states have already designated enough land for green infrastructure capable of lifting this figure to 80 percent within the same period.

Instead of banishing the noise-makers to industrial wastelands or erecting them along freeways, they are scattering them across graceful mountain landscapes and areas full of lakes.

These plans have admittedly not been properly thought through. But it is the large-scale attack on forests that wind-turbine opponents find the most appalling. The Nordic pine forests, which formed the magical, emotion-filled realm of the German Romantics, as well as the homes of the ash and the oak, are all threatened by the relaxing of the laws.

From the Odenwald mountain range stretching across southwest Germany to the birch forests of Mecklenburg in the northeast, giant trucks are pushing their way into the woodlands. Johannes Remmel, a member of the Green Party who serves as environment minister for the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, has announced that he would like to put up around 2,000 wind turbines in the region’s forests. The state of Hesse also wants to cut down thousands of hectares of trees.

Some pioneering projects are already underway, such as that in Ellern, a small town in the low mountain range of Hunsrück in the state of Rhineland-Palatinate. Ellern has recently become home to a record-breaking wind turbine some 200 meters tall, or far above the treetops.

Semi-trailers pulled nacelles, the enormous housings for wind turbine engines, and transformer stations up the narrow forest roads. A 1,000-ton crane made its way up the slippery slopes to the peak; trees were felled at the side of the road to make way for it. At the top, the forest was cleared to nothing with chainsaws so that concrete foundations could be laid for the turbines.

No one knows what the impact of such activities will be on the flora and fauna. The offensive into this mountain range took place “without checks,” protests Germany’s Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union (NABU). In any case, the group says, the idea of generating wind power in the forest should be “rejected on principle.”

Lies and Deception
The decision to not build offshore wind farms turns out to be misguided not just for environmental reasons, but also for economic ones. At sea, turbines can achieve 4,500 full-load hours a year. By the coast, the figure is 3,000. Inland, a site is considered good if it produces 1,800 hours.

The turbines currently being built across Germany, from the Ore Mountains in the east to Lake Constance in the west, are weaker still. Statistics show that the turbines in the south of the country are generating significantly less power than was predicted. The biggest wind farm in Baden-Württemberg, at a height of 850 meters in the Northern Black Forest, has been a flop for years.

“It’s all an enormous swindle,” says Besigheim-based auditor Walter Müller, 65, whose former job involved calculating the value of bankrupt East German factories. Today, he takes the same hard-as-nails approach to examining the books of wind farm companies.

His verdict? A fabric of lies and deception. The experts commissioned by the operators of the wind farms sometimes describe areas with weak breezes as top “wind-intensive” sites to make them appear more attractive, he says. “Small-scale investors are promised profits to attract them into closed funds for wind farms that do not generate enough energy,” he says. “Ultimately, all the capital is eaten up.”

The wind turbines, whose job it was to protect the environment, are not running smoothly. Germany’s biggest infrastructure project is a mess. Everyone wants to get away from nuclear. But at what price?

Even Winfried Kretschmann, the governor of Baden-Württemberg and the first Green Party member to govern any German state, is sounding contrite. But his resolve remains as firm as ever: “There is simply no alternative to disfiguring the countryside like this,” he insists.

The question is: Is he right?

Battle over wind turbines in the land of Sleeping Beauty

July 10, 2013
By Matt McGrath
Environment correspondent, BBC News

Plans to expand wind energy into the most scenic parts of Germany are fueling increasing opposition across the country.

Anti-wind campaigners are angry that areas including the forests made famous by the tales of the brothers Grimm are among the targets for new turbines.

For the first time they have formed a national opposition group to thwart the expansion.

They say the growth of wind will damage forests and tourism across the country.

Continue reading the main story

“Start Quote

There is nobody who stands up and tells the truth, we have to stop now”

Markus Storck Bicycle designer

Germany has embarked on a massive expansion of renewable energy in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011. Chancellor Merkel’s government decided to phase out atomic plants more rapidly and instead increased the opportunities for green power.

WSith guaranteed prices for 20 years thanks to feed-in tariffs enshrined in law, solar farms, biogas plants and wind parks have boomed. There are now 1.3 million small co-operatives and households supplying renewable energy to the grid.

This Energiewende or energy transformation has been remarkably successful, with 22% of Germany’s electricity being generated by renewables in 2012. Wind has played a major part in this change, and the public has been generally supportive, despite rapidly increasing energy bills.

Castle Sleeping Beauty reputedly slept for 100 years in this castle in Sababurg, just across the valley from the home of Rapunzel

To date, a majority of the 23,000 wind turbines in the country have been built in the flatter north and eastern parts of the country. But now the focus of expansion is on the picture postcard areas of dark forest and lush green hills in the central and southern areas of Germany.

One such region is the Rheinhardswald in the northern part of the state of Hesse. This is the home of the magical tales of Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel and others, made famous in the books of the brothers Grimm.

This quiet, scenic place is a magnet for tourists from all over the world.

But now there are also plans to build up to 200 turbines on the surrounding hills.

Ann-Kathrin Blankenberg is a PhD student and a vocal opponent of the plans.

“It is not because this is the area of Sleeping Beauty,” she says.

“I want the green movement, I want green technology, I don’t want nuclear power – but they should be made in the right way and not by destroying the forest.

“We have here special, old growth forest and some species just live in this area and are in danger because of the turbines.”

The campaigners argue that putting wind turbines in this area makes no sense. The wind speeds are low and the area is home to some extremely rare birds including the endangered black stork.

Across Germany, the plans for expansion have pitted green against green – the potential damage to natural resources from the building of turbines seems to be the biggest concern for opponents.

T-shirt Campaigners say the building of turbines here would be disastrous for tourism

About 170 regional groups opposed to wind energy have now formed a national organisation called Vernunftkraft, to fight the expansion of turbines. They are trying to get enough signatures on a petition to force the German parliament to debate the future direction of the Energiewende, especially the subsidies for wind energy.

Wind bubble
Some of those involved believe that unlike solar power, which has been adopted by many individual householders, wind parks are essentially speculative investments with electricity consumers guaranteeing a return for developers.


At his sleek workshop near Wiesbaden, several hundred kilometres away from the fairytale forests of Sleeping Beauty, Markus Storck designs some of the greenest machines on the planet.

His crafted, lightweight bicycles have won dozens of awards. His products sell all over the world and he has also experimented with electric bikes.

But he is now vehemently opposing the expansion of wind energy in Germany, and is highly critical of developers and the subsidies that bolster their projects.

“They are getting people to invest by telling them they can make money with it, but people will also lose like with the internet. I would call it a wind bubble,” he says.

“There is nobody who stands up and tells the truth, we have to stop now.”

While the protestors are becoming more organised, they still represent a relatively small section of society.

Opinion polls continue to show widespread political support for the energy transformation and for wind energy as well. There is a common belief that opponents of wind are “nimbys” – short for “Not In My Back Yard” – who only complain because the turbines are coming to their local areas.

wedding Sleeping Beauty’s castle is a popular place for weddings and celebrations

Hans-Josef Fell is the Green MP who is sometimes called the father of the feed-in tariff. In 2000, he wrote the draft of the Renewable Energy Source Act that kick-started the energy transformation. He characterises the opponents of wind as small, aggressive groups.

“They don’t bother to have an honest discussion, because they want to prohibit a wind turbine in their backyard,” he says.

“They don’t recognise that by doing so, other people have to deal with the consequences of an opencast coal mine or radioactive waste storage.”

There are other issues associated with the energy transformation that are troubling environmentalists. The shutdown of nuclear reactors in the south of the country means there is a need to transfer energy from the north. New, high voltage cables are needed to link onshore and offshore wind parks to consumers and industry.

But critics are worried that these new cables will not only damage the landscape, they could also be a risk to public health.

Going undergroundThere are demands from the Green party that the wires be buried where possible. But many landowners are unwilling to, quite literally, give ground for the projects.

In the central university town of Goettingen, local Green party councillor Harald Wiedemann has concerns about how these plans will work.

“The problem is, on the one hand the cost, and on the other is the electro-magnetic field – no one has said they will have 1,000kw cables here but in future it is possible”, he says.

campaigner against turbines Local residents say their opposition is founded on science and is not “nimbyism”

“We have to build these cables really far away from towns – it is too expensive to put them underground for such a long distance, no-one can pay.”

Whether people are objecting to electricity pylons or the building of wind turbines, much of the opposition appears to be practical and not grounded in climate change scepticism. A majority accept that rising temperatures and the need for secure, sustainable energy sources means the energy transition must go ahead.

Back at the home of Sleeping Beauty, the opponents of turbines insist that they are open to compromise.

Guenter Koseck, the owner of the castle at Sababurg that is reputed to have been the home of the slumbering princess, says this is not an ideological fight.

“This area is owned by the state, so if we get turbines here only because it is the easiest place to locate them and not because it is the most efficient area, then I would object,” he says.

“We want to move to green energy, and it has to be located somewhere. Without any question I would accept it here, as long as the arguments are right.”