Germany’s energy policy looks like a disaster in the making.
It is some years since this column first warned that we may soon face major blackouts due to the impending closure of 14 nuclear and coal-fired power stations which currently supply nearly 40 per cent of our peak electricity needs. This disaster, I suggested, would be unique in Europe, because of the blindness of successive governments’ energy policy. But it now seems that Germany may get there before us, following its government’s decision, in the wake of Fukushima, to shut eight of its 17 nuclear power plants immediately, with the rest to follow.
Last week, the head of Germany’s national grid warned that supply was in such a parlous state that major power cuts may soon be inevitable. Like Britain’s, Germany’s energy policy has been so skewed by green obsessions that it has built 22,000 wind turbines, more than any other country in the world. Yet they are even more useless than ours – generating at only 15 per cent of their “capacity” (ours managed 21 per cent last year). Even the 6 per cent of the nation’s electricity they supply is so unreliable that the Germans say they must not only keep open several coal-fired power stations – in defiance of an EU anti-pollution directive which is shortly to close six of ours – but that they must build new ones, to burn some of the world’s “dirtiest” coal.
Meanwhile, after rejecting its own nuclear power Germany, is having to import nuclear-generated electricity from France, We may smile at this – but last week, watching the Neta website that gives running figures on where our electricity comes from, I noted several times that our 3,500 wind turbines were contributing less than 1 per cent – and up to four times as much was being imported from those same French nuclear reactors. If the Germans are already staring their disaster in the face, our own is not far down the line.
The real ice story: BBC misses the boat again
Another little parable for our times is the story of Sweden’s refusal to lease its most powerful ice-breaker to help the United States in supplying its McMurdo base in Antarctica. The Swedes told Hillary Clinton that they need the Oden at home, after two years of unusually thick winter ice have brought shipping to a halt in the northern Baltic. The Americans have relied on the Oden’s services for five years because, as revealed by the Autonomous Mind blog, they have run down their own ice-breaker fleet, believing that global warming would render it unnecessary.