The German Government’s Illusions of “Energy Autarchy”

In his first speech in the Bundestag as Germany’s Economy and Climate Minister, Robert Habeck of the Greens confirmed his ideologically-driven agenda. In view of rising energy prices, he said, Germany must become less dependent on raw material imports, and to achieve this, renewable energies from wind and sun would have to be expanded much faster than planned. He blamed the soaring prices on a “worldwide hunger for the fossil energies gas, oil and coal”, whereas in reality, it is the speculators who are driving prices up on the free energy markets, where they capitalize on the absence of sufficient long-term contracts at fixed and calculable prices, for example for natural gas from Russia. To provide some relief for consumers, Habeck promised to abolish as of 2023 the EEG surcharge, which is the de facto tax paid to finance renewables.

In other words, his message to the population is that the government will not intervene against energy price speculation, nor will it compensate them in the coming winter weeks when heating bills will shoot up. In fact, high prices for fossil fuels are actually favored by the Greens, who somehow believe it will force consumers to switch to renewables much earlier – although the transition is expected to cost taxpayers roughly 500 billion euros. And Habeck’s promise of making Germany a top exporter of solar and wind power technologies is very doubtful.

Right-wing populist journalist Jan Fleischhauer, whose columns have a large readership, promptly attacked Habeck’s strategy, noting that “no other developed economy in the world dares to disconnect itself from all reliable energy sources.” But many countries “have drawn the conclusion from climate change to rethink the use of nuclear power. In Finland, even the Greens are in favor of it.” Moreover, he warned, the “big blackout is closer than many think… the last time we had a blackout for days on end was during the war.”

Another warning of European blackouts came from Italy, from a report by the Intelligence Oversight Committee of the Italian Parliament issued at the end of hearings on the energy crisis. “Soaring electricity and natural gas prices are exposing Europe to the risk of energy blackouts… The fear is that in a highly interconnected energy supply system such as Europe’s, the shutdown of a single power plant – for example due to a lack of fuel – could cause a chain reaction in several member states.”

Indeed, the final shutdown of three nuclear power plants in Germany on Dec. 31, 2021 poses a supply shortage big enough already to trigger such a blackout. Another problem is posed with the temporary shutdown of two reactors in France for overdue maintenance, which will reduce the national electricity production capacity by 10% during the coming winter weeks, and therefore also affect French exports to neighboring countries, Italy included.

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