Germany's high energy costs are rooted in aggressive new energy standards which began during the last decade and are designed to generate up to 60 percent of the nation's electricity from wind turbines, solar panels and other renewable sources by 2035, up from 27 percent now.
The goal is to make Europe's largest economy a leader in tackling climate change, and to prove to other nations that a radical overhaul of power markets can happen without too much financial pain.
The accident at Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant in 2011 emboldened Berlin in its goals, leading Chancellor Merkel to accelerate a phase-out of nuclear power. Before Fukushima, nuclear supplied about a quarter of Germany's power; by 2022 it will supply none.
This transformation, dubbed the "Energiewende" or energy shift, has made Germany among the most expensive places in the world to purchase electricity. The massive rise is not only due to the payments made for solar power, but all other renewable energy sources, most notably offshore and onshore wind parks, biogas and geothermal plants. Costs are also ballooning due to the country's power taxes, which account for 14 percent of the total.
Some politicians have begun to worry about the increase. Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel warned in January that the power price imbalance could cause a "dramatic de-industrialization" in the country. Officials in his ministry say no issue worries him more than Germany's creeping loss of competitiveness.
"There is this great confidence that Germany is the bulwark of a sick Europe, but now its industry is concerned about maintaining that strength," said Daniel Yergin, vice chairman of consultancy IHS and author of an influential history of the oil industry.
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"Germany faces a double whammy of rising energy costs in Germany and falling energy costs in the United States," he said.
Fracking has been controversial around the world due to the mixture of chemicals and sand injected deep in the earth. It has been blamed in parts of the United States for water contamination, earthquakes and methane leaks, though direct correlations have been hard to establish. Given these concerns, it has received a cool reception in Europe.
Germany has not tapped its shale gas reserves, deterred by its powerful renewable energy lobby, which has warned of the environmental risks linked to fracking.
Generally speaking, power costs are less important than labor in industry. But Wacker's plant in Burghausen, on Germany's border with Austria, shows what's at stake.
Founded a hundred years ago, the plant is now one of Germany's biggest industrial hubs, employing about 10,000 staff across an area equal to some 460 soccer fields.
Each day, about 250 trucks and 100 train wagons transport goods to and from the plant, where workers turn methanol, silicon, ethylene and rock salt into more than 3,000 different products.
At Burghausen, Wacker makes polysilicon, one of its most important products and one whose manufacturing process is particularly energy-intensive. At one of the plant's high-security production sites, several cylinder-shaped ovens quietly hum. A lava-like glow emanates from the small windows. Temperatures of more than 1,000 degrees Celsius (1,832 degrees Fahrenheit) are needed over long periods of time to make polysilicon hyper-pure, as clients demand for solar cells.
Wacker Chemie's bigger rival BASF has found an alternative way to protect itself from rising power prices. BASF SE, the world's largest chemical company, generates much of its power in Germany via cogeneration, but it gets the natural gas needed for the plants from its own natural gas division in the North Sea. That gives it a cost advantage.
The company, however, remains the exception, and the burden for Germany's industrial base will get bigger as more and more renewables come online.
For Wacker, it's an ironic twist of fate. It was a small hydro-plant that helped it expand production in Burghausen after World War One. A hundred years on, green energy sources are forcing the group to look abroad when it thinks about the future.
"It's the law of a free economy to start curbing production where costs are higher," Essers said.