Rather than benefit in any measurable way from a mad dash into a promised land powered by wind and solar energy, Germany is being forced to beg for coal mines to be kept open because not only are renewables not doing the job they’re starting to cost jobs.
In a remarkable twist of events, German vice-chancellor Sigmar Gabriel has written to Sweden’s Prime Minister pleading for two Swedish-owned coal mines in Germany to be expanded rather than closed or sold.
If the situation wasn’t so serious it would be laughable but not only is it deadly serious it has more twists and turns in it than an Indiana Jones adventure.
Essentially, the German government has signed up for a full-blown “energiewende” program, a grand, green, energy plan based on wind and solar power and designed to provide 80% of Germany’s energy demand by the year 2050.
Problems are occurring across the green energy system, starting with the remarkable discovery that the wind does not blow all the time, neither does the sun shine all the time. Worse still, German factories and households are being whacked with steep increases in their power bills to subsidise the green dream.
The knee-jerk reaction of the Germans to this discovery of the bleeding obvious (that you can’t easily replace conventional power with green power) is to crank up coal production, and not just any old coal, Germany is using more low grade and heavily polluting brown coal than it has in the last 30 years.
Now for the twist. Two of the biggest coal mines in Germany are owned by a company called Vattenfall which is an arm of the Swedish Government.
With the election last month of a socialist government in Sweden a strict new program of green policies is being introduced, including the demonisation of coal and orders for Vattenfall to get rid of its German coal mines, either by closing or selling them.
Not only does Germany need Vattenfall to keep the mines operating because its green dream is proving slow to arrive but it actually wants the Swedish government to expand the mines to meet what seems to be a looming power shortage across Germany.
Two weeks ago Vice-Chancellor Gabriel wrote to Sweden’s new Prime Minister, Stefan Lofven, saying that if Vattenfall abandoned plans to expand its German mines there would be “serious consequences for electricity supplies and jobs”.
What a hoot. The hard-line anti-coal and anti-nuclear policies of the German government have become hostage to the new, dark-green, policies of the Swedish government.
There’s more. Not only are the German’s begging for coal mines to be expanded, and the company being asked is a Swedish government business unit, but that same business is actually suing the German government for $US5.9 billion in compensation over the closure of nuclear power stations.
Not even talented writers of fiction, or Hollywood movie makers could dream up a plot like that goes like this:
Germany goes green and starts to mothball coal and nuclear power in the belief that renewables can power the country;
Slowly it dawns on the German government that it cannot keep its economy functioning in a competitive way without coal and nuclear;
Sweden’s Vattenfall sues the German government over the closure of nuclear power plants;
A new government is elected in Sweden and it goes green too, including an order to Vattenfall to sell or close two coal mines it owns in Germany; and
Panic hits the German government as a future with severe power limitations becomes a ghastly reality for one of the world’s most heavily industrialised countries.
The story unfolding in Europe which is a long way from Australia.
However, there are connections to Australia and the rapidly developing European power crisis and those connections can be traced to Victoria where a green-leaning government was elected on Saturday.
The immediate closure of coal mines is not a policy of the Labor Party in Victoria but it certainly is of the Greens.
In time it is possible that Victoria will become Australia’s Germany, a state with an acute shortage of power, and what power is available will become fiercely expensive.
If that sounds extreme, take a look at the German experience as a country prices itself out of world markets and wonders why entire factories are being exported to the US where power is cheap and plentiful.
(“Hogback” – International Longwall News)