Here is a story from The Financial Times about how solar and wind power generation has rejuvenated farming communities in Germany. Unlike in the US, where speculators and merchant generators control grid scale solar and wind development, in Germany, farmers and local communities have built new projects themselves.
Laws passed in the 1990s, known collectively as the Renewable Energy Act or EEG in German, encourage the creation of locally managed cooperatives that manage development and retail distribution of electricity from renewable projects. These laws are now under assault by the big electric companies whose business has been undermined by real competition.
The big companies such as E.on complain about subsidies to farmers and citizens, saying that they place an unfair burden on other rate payers. This, of course, is the same propaganda that is beginning to pop up in the US, and renewables are nowhere near as widespread as in Germany.
The Financial Times buys right into the propaganda by pointing to the fact that farmers can now make decent income from selling renewable power. The FT reporter dwells on a farmer who has sold much of his livestock and now runs a local power consulting firm and tries to portray him as getting rich from subsidies imposed on urban residential customers.
The FT article never mentions the real unfairness of Germany’s electric rate structure. All of the renewable power surcharges fall on residential customers because all of Germany’s industrial customers are exempt from paying those charges. The problem is not the farmers, it is the big corporations who don’t pay their fair share. No surprise there. THAT is Germany’s problem, not renewable power.