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Menopausal Mother Nature

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Germany’s Self-Inflicted Energy Catastrophe

wind solar power lines

Germany may be the only nation that has based its energy policy on absolution.

Germans call it Energiewende (“energy transition”), and they aim to decarbonize their economy and lead the world by replacing their fossil fuel and nuclear plants with renewable energy. [bold, links added]

Germany is the first major nation to undertake such an effort, and, as hoped for, their early adoption of renewables has catalyzed a spectacular drop in costs for those technologies.

A reporter summed up German attitudes towards the Energiewende, writing, “Germans would then at last feel that they have gone from being world-destroyers in the 20th century to world-saviors in the 21st.”

The Energiewende gained legislative support in 2010, and Germany spent nearly 202 billion euros on renewable energy projects from 2013 to 2020.

Since 2010, the share of German electricity generation that has come from solar and wind power has risen from 8 percent to 31 percent, no small feat.

Yet Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has laid bare critical weaknesses in German energy policy.

Before the war in Ukraine, Germany received 55 percent of its natural gas imports from Russia.

While that percentage has fallen since the war began, the European Union chose not to ban Russian gas imports because gas is so crucial to EU nations like Germany.

Unsurprisingly, Putin has been using Russia’s gas flows to exert influence over Germany and the EU.

Russia recently cut flows through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, which connects Germany and Russia, by 60 percent, an action that coincided with the leaders of Germany, Italy, and France visiting Kyiv.

And it gets worse. Nord Stream 1 will be out of commission for 10 days due to scheduled maintenance starting July 11.

Putin used maintenance issues as the pretense for the initial drawdown in Nord Stream gas flows, sparking fears from German leaders that Russia will simply refuse to reopen the pipeline after the maintenance.

If Russia permanently cuts off natural gas exports to Germany, it will likely send the country, the world’s fourth-largest economy, into a severe recession.

In response to these pressures, German leaders have considered reopening shuttered coal plants to shore up their economy and national security.

Coal is the dirtiest source of electricity, releasing more greenhouse gas emissions and deadly air pollution than any other energy.

Boosting its production is a damning policy failure. How did the world’s preeminent renewable energy champion find itself in a situation where it would be reopening coal plants?

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.

To control these swings and provide reliable power, renewable advocates argue that battery storage and hydrogen can store electricity and dispatch it when solar and wind aren’t producing.

Germany’s largest battery storage program is its home storage systems, but years of battery storage installations have barely made an impact on the German grid.

The country currently has an estimated 435,000 homes equipped with battery storage systems of various capabilities, and 145,000 home storage systems were installed in 2021.

But there are 40 million households in Germany, and home battery storage systems usually last only a few hours, while the grid needs storage that can support variations lasting weeks.

SEE ALSO: Germany’s Energiewende: A Disaster In The Making

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