All of Europe to Suffer the Impact of Germany’s Flight into Renewables
Uncertainty over the source of future power supplies for Europe’s leading industrial economy, in particular after the complete exit from nuclear energy by the end of 2022, is cause for concern in the entire European Union.
In 2020, there was a 15% decrease in greenhouse emissions in Germany, but that was not due to the increase in renewable energy sources, but rather to the shutdowns in industrial production as a result of the COVID pandemic, according to Fabian Hein of Agora Energiewende. In 2020 for the first time, the total output from solar and wind sources – 183 Twh – was greater than the 178 Twh produced by coal, oil and gas combined. But even that increase of the share of renewables was not sufficient to cover the starkly reduced demand of lockdown conditions.
Thus, in 2020, not only did Germany have to cut back its electricity exports by 11.6%, but it also had to increase its imports from European neighbors by 38.8% (!) to make up for the shortfall. In terms of figures, that means that imports went from 24.2 Twh in 2019 to 33.6 Twh in 2020. And that trend will certainly get worse if, according to plan, three of the remaining six nuclear power reactors are shut off in January 2022.
At one point last summer, when France was unable to export enough electricity to Germany (the largest importer of French nuclear power), it was forced to import power from Spain, which in turn had to turn to Morocco to supply electricity via underwater cable from North Africa. This shows that there are definite limits to what the European Energy Supply Chain which regulates inner-European exports and imports for its member nations can do to keep Germany’s industry going.