by Steve Goreham at wattsupwiththat.com
The lesson from Europe is that reliance on wind, solar, and imported natural gas is expensive and risky energy policy. If you experience a low-wind year, a cold winter, an embargo, or a war, you can’t turn up the wind and solar.”
The year 2022 was an energy disaster for Europe. Citizens and businesses suffered from astronomical prices for natural gas and electricity, sky-high home energy bills, shuttered industrial plants, and bankrupt companies. Observers have blamed COVID-19 supply chain disruptions and the Russian invasion of Ukraine, but Europe’s green energy policies was the elephant in the room.
For the last two decades, closures of traditional power plants and renewable energy policies made European countries highly dependent upon a combination of intermittent wind and solar sources and natural gas. More than 100 nuclear plants had closed or were scheduled to close, including 30 in Germany and 34 in the United Kingdom. At the same time, 23 nations announced that they would phase out coal.
By 2021, wind, solar, and natural gas provided 48 percent of Germany’s electricity, and provided most of the electricity consumed in Italy (63%), the UK (64%), and the Netherlands (78%). Homes in the Netherlands get 83 percent of their heating energy from natural gas and gas provides 78 percent of heating in UK homes.
Imports provided a rising share of the continent’s energy. In 2000, Europe had produced 56 percent of its natural gas and 44 percent of its petroleum. But the region chose to invest in wind and solar, instead of using hydraulic fracturing to boost oil and gas production. By 2021, Europe was producing only 37 percent of its own natural gas and 25 percent of its petroleum. In addition, rising imports from Russia created a serious dependency. Russia provided Europe with 27 percent of its natural gas, 17 percent of its crude oil, and 38 percent of its coal in 2021.
In 2017, the European Commission released a study that identified 49 shale formations in Europe that contained either natural gas or oil, with major shale potential in Bulgaria, France, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Ukraine, and the UK. One major shale field, the Fennoscandian Shield, stretches across Northern Europe, from England to the Baltic States. But Europe chose to fracture none of these fields and to rely on intermittent wind and solar and natural gas imports.read more