Sometimes you just have to shake your head and laugh ruefully
Mostly because you get tired of saying “I told you so”. Focus – Germany:
With Greenpeace successfully forcing the shutdown of nuclear power, and keeping out fracking for gas, what’s left? A boom in coal. In fact, over the next two years Germany will build 10 new power plants for hard coal. Europe is in a coal frenzy, building power plants and opening up new mines, practically every month. It might sound odd that a boom in German coal is the result of Greenpeace’s political success.
Yes, this is the sort of thing that happens when governments try to set priorities in a market for political reasons and it blows up in their face:
Europe’s appetite for cheaper electricity is reviving mines that produce the dirtiest Across the continent’s mining belt, from Germany to Poland and the Czech Republic, utilities are expanding open-pit mines that produce lignite. The projects go against the grain of European Union rules limiting emissions and pushing cleaner energy. Alarmed at power prices about double U.S. levels, policy makers are allowing the expansion of coal mines that were scaled back in the past two decades. Lignite demand worldwide is forecast to rise as much as 5.4 percent by 2020, according to the International Energy Agency.
And the preferred energy sources just don’t deliver:
Germany’s wind and solar power production came to an almost complete standstill in early December. More than 23,000 wind turbines stood still. One million photovoltaic systems stopped work nearly completely. For a whole week coal, nuclear and gas power plants had to generate an estimated 95 percent of Germany’s electricity supply.
But if you ask them, these same folks will tell you how much smarter they are than you, how their priorities make more sense than yours and why they should be able to use force to make you live with their choices.
The irony is simply hilarious:
Coal remains the biggest source of fuel for generating electricity in the U.S. and coal exports are growing fast. Demand is being stoked by the rise of power-hungry middle classes in emerging economies, led by China and India. By the end of this decade, coal is expected to surpass oil as the world’s dominant fuel source, according to a recent study by consultant Wood Mackenzie.
And that brings us to the paradox created by government:
Germany’s energy transition has also been a transition to coal: Despite multi-billion subsidies for renewable energy sources, power generation from brown coal (lignite) has climbed to its highest level in Germany since 1990. It is especially coal-fired power plants that are replacing the eight nuclear power plants that were shut down, while less CO2-intensive, but more expensive gas-fired power plants are currently barely competitive. Energy expert Patrick Graichen speaks of Germany’s “energy transition paradox”: the development of solar and wind farms, yet rising carbon dioxide-emissions.
Oh … and we told you so.