Germany is in trouble. The IMF has revised its projected growth figures down to just 1.2 percent for 2022. Even this may prove to be optimistic now that gas imports from Russia have dropped to just 20 percent of what was anticipated prior to the EU sanctions. With autumn approaching, German industry is anticipating power outages while the population looks forward to food and energy shortages.
The cuts in gas supplies – resulting, apparently, from Canada refusing to return essential turbines following repair – mean that Germany has no chance of building up its gas storage before winter arrives. And, of course, it is possible that the Russian state will use this moment of weakness to cut supplies even further. After all, most of the future gas which would have gone to Europe has since been sold to Asian states instead.
Inevitably then, German – and western – media outlets will spend much of the winter talking about “Putin’s energy cuts.” In reality, it is the European technocracy and its puppet politicians who bear the greater responsibility. After all, it is they who have spent the last three decades leaving Europe vulnerable to precisely this kind of supply shock. As Lea Booth at Quillette argues:
“The truth is that the Energiewende was doomed to fail from the start. Germany bet big on solar and wind and shut down their nuclear plants when they should have forgone renewables and expanded their nuclear energy program instead. Germany’s anti-nuclear ideology is so rigid that they closed three nuclear plants in December 2021, despite the global energy crisis, and plan to close their last three nuclear plants this December, despite Russia’s energy extortion.
“Solar and wind power have inherent flaws that prohibit them from ever forming the backbone of an industrialized nation’s electrical grid. They require nearly 100 percent backup because they depend on the vagaries of the weather. Just look at how energy from solar and wind fluctuates. In 2019, wind power on one day rose to 59 percent of German power generation, but it fell to as low as 2.6 percent on another day of the year. In the same year, solar peaked at 25 percent and bottomed out at 0.3 percent.”
The so-called green energy transition was always more of a corporate welfare trough into which a corporate “green industrial complex” oligarchy happily sunk its snout, than a genuine solution to climate change. And its dirty secret was that it used one fossil fuel – gas – to wean itself off another – coal – while doing zilch to wean the world off fossil fuels as a whole.
Booth’s argument that Germany – and indeed, the UK – should have gone with nuclear rather than wind is born out in the data:
While both the UK and Germany make a meal out of their wind capacity, France has quietly held the lead as a result of its high use of nuclear, which is arguably less damaging than gas. Nevertheless, some gas consumption is inevitable because other forms of generation – including nuclear – cannot be ramped up and down along with the moment-to-moment fluctuations in wind.
Less obviously though, the economics of gas have a similar cross-subsidising effect to that of oil. Just as the mass consumption of petrol – which makes up around 40 percent of a barrel of oil – keeps the price of diesel low, so the mass consumption of gas – both directly and as a fuel for electricity generation – helps hold down the price of fertiliser and other chemicals, including, ironically, the plastics used to construct wind turbine blades.
One recent consequence of the rise in gas prices – which predated the Russian invasion of Ukraine – is that Europe has kissed goodbye to its wind turbine industry. Siemens Gamesa closed its Spanish operations last year, and Nordex began closing its German operations in June. As a consequence, the days when campaigners could argue that wind is cheaper than any other form of electricity generation are coming to an end as shortages and higher import prices drive costs up.
In any case, wind was only “cheaper” because of the insane manner in which the European technocracy rigged the quasi-market. If the technocracy had been serious about climate change, it would have insisted that all electricity generators provide “firm” – 24/7/365 – electricity to the grid, irrespective of how this was achieved. In this way, the use of gas, nuclear or coal to balance intermittent wind would be factored into the price of wind rather than being offloaded as an additional tax on customers’ bills. Nor is this simply a matter of fairness. The only way of providing an incentive to invest in storage and/or carbon capture technologies is to oblige the wind energy corporations to pay for resolving their intermittency. Whereas, so long as governments have colluded to dump the cost onto unwary and increasingly hard-pressed customers – businesses and households – the green industrial complex has had no incentive to try to make wind energy work.
On the other hand, the European technocracy has a habit of treating the little people with contempt. The same technocrats which have landed us with the biggest energy and cost-of-living crisis in living memory are the same class who tax our once a year holiday flights while exempting their private jets from carbon taxes. These are the people who booked up the Ochsen Steakhouse in Davos while telling the little people that we are going to have to give up meat and eat crickets instead. What, we might reasonably ask, do these people care if European excess deaths from hunger and hypothermia in the winter of 2022-23 far exceed deaths from Covid in 2020-21?
And if the Russian state decides to turn off the gas entirely? Well, perhaps the technocracy should have thought through it sanctions salad and opted only for those sanctions which hit the Russian economy rather than rushing headlong for self-immolation.
As you made it to the end…
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