The cause of Europe’s energy insecurity, which has rendered it impotent against Putin, is simple: When you restrict domestic fossil fuel production on the false promise of replacement by unreliable solar and wind, you become dangerously dependent on foreign production.
- As Vladimir Putin continues to wage war in Ukraine and Europe struggles to do anything about it, Europe’s extreme energy dependence on Russia is being laid bare. Even though Russia is overall an economic weakling compared to Europe, it is still able to extort Europe on energy.1
- 40% of Europe’s natural gas—which it desperately needs for heating and electricity—comes from Russia. For Germany, the number is 50%. And Russia has already kept Europe’s natural gas storage at low levels.2
- Germany, after not extending the lifetime of its remaining nuclear reactors, is planning on getting its first LNG terminal online in 2 years. Until then, as economic minister Robert Habeck has made clear, banning Russian gas in Germany would devastate Germany.3
- Meanwhile, Russia has found an ally in China, which will receive more of Russia’s oil and gas as Western countries try to reduce their dependence. A rising, militant Russia allying with a rising, increasingly militant China is a terrifying state of affairs.4
Europe’s vulnerability to Russia was completely preventable. Europe and its allies have all the natural gas, coal, and uranium they need to produce low-cost, reliable heat and electricity for generations to come.
But anti-fossil fuel, anti-nuclear policies have neutered Europe.
- For the last 2 decades Europe has destroyed its ability to produce and import energy from fossil fuels and nuclear—on the promise that unreliable solar and wind could replace them. But after trillions in subsidies, it’s clear that they have failed.5
- One major cause of Europe’s current energy impotence is its numerous bans on the greatest natural gas producing technology ever invented: fracking. Fracking has been banned by France, Bulgaria, The Netherlands, Germany, Spain, and the UK.6
- All the European nations that banned fracking are still 100% dependent on natural gas to survive. In fact, they are even more dependent than they used to be because their use of intermittent solar and wind requires the unique flexible backup that natural gas can provide.7
- Another major cause of Europe’s current energy impotence is its opposition to LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) import terminals—combined with the US’s opposition to export terminals. If not for these, Europe could get a lot of its gas from America—not Russia.8
- Still another major cause of Europe’s current energy impotence is its dual policy of prematurely shutting down coal plants and nuclear plants—leading to extreme reliance on natural gas from Russia. E.g., anti-coal Germany just shut down 3 of its last 6 nuclear reactors.9
- The #1 lesson of Europe’s natural gas dependence is this: European governments have wildly overestimated the ability of solar and wind to provide the energy they need and wildly underestimated the need for fossil fuels and nuclear to provide the energy they need.
- If Europe’s level of dependence on Russia for natural gas scares you, know this: America is even more dependent on China for many of the key components of solar panels, wind turbines, and batteries than Europe is on Russia for natural gas.10
The energy impotence and vulnerability to Russia caused by Europe’s solar-and-wind mandating, fossil-fuel-and-nuclear restricting policies should be a wake-up call to the US.
We must abandon Europe-copying anti-energy policies like Build Back Better.
- Ominously, many anti-fossil fuel-forces in Europe and in the US, are not admitting their mistakes but instead claiming we need to further abandon fossil fuels in favor of unreliable solar and wind. Here’s why this is exactly wrong.10
- The best protection against energy insecurity is not the illusion of independence that solar and wind provide but the freedom to produce all kinds of energy, including fossil fuels, domestically, and the freedom to trade all kinds of energy with other civilized countries.
World Bank Data - GDP per capita↩
Reuters - Gas prices surge in Europe over tight Russian supplies
The Wall Street Journal - Germany’s Reliance on Russian Gas Limits Europe’s Options in Ukraine Crisis↩
Euractiv - Germany rules out prolonging its nuclear power plants
Clean Energy Wire - Plans for construction of first German LNG terminal plagued by delays and uncertainty
Bloomberg - Germany Backs New LNG Plants to Cut Russian Gas Dependence
DW - Germany warns against ban on energy imports from Russia↩
Reuters - Putin hails $117.5 bln of China deals as Russia squares off with West
Nikkei Asia - China turns to Russian gas to curb dependence on Quad members↩
Alex Epstein - Talking Points on skyrocketing oil and gasoline prices↩
Alex Epstein - Talking Points on how Europe's fracking bans have contributed to its natural gas crisis↩
Alex Epstein - Talking Points on the "Other countries have 80% clean electricity" argument↩
The Times (Ireland) - Liquefied natural gas terminals to be banned in law
Politico - French government blocks U.S. LNG deal as too dirty
Bloomberg - German Gas Terminal Faces Headwinds as Major Investor Steps Back
The Maritime Executive - Greenpeace Blocks Arrival of Gas Carrier at Spanish Gas Terminal↩
Reuters - Germany shuts three of its last six nuclear plants
Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Action - Final decision to launch the coal-phase out – a project for a generation↩