Eventually, order emerges from chaos. Thanks to the chaos of Europe’s self-inflicted wind and solar disaster, reality is starting to take hold, with the promise of order on the horizon.
Investment in new wind turbines and solar panels has plummeted across Europe. Coal-fired power is back in vogue and nuclear plants are the next must-have.
Ralph Schoellhammer is an assistant professor in economics and political science at Webster University Vienna.
Here he is explaining why the end is nigh for the grand wind and solar transition, with its inevitable demise starting in Europe.
Is the eco-bubble about to burst?
14 February 2023
Economist Herbert Stein once said that ‘if something cannot go on forever, it will stop’. Today, there is growing evidence that ‘Stein’s law’ is coming for the renewables industry, particularly for wind and solar power.
After investing billions of dollars into the green-energy transition, many of the major players in the energy sector are now shifting their priorities. The global energy shortages of 2022 seem to have woken much of the world up to just how impractical renewable energy can be.
Last year, not a single investment was made in a major European offshore wind farm. The numbers for overall wind-turbine orders also declined by 47 per cent compared with 2021. Earlier this month, the Financial Times also poured cold water on hopes of a breakthrough in battery technology. Batteries are critical if we want to store wind- and solar-generated power for when the wind isn’t blowing or the Sun isn’t shining.
Another signal of this shift comes from the US Securities and Exchange Commission, which has suggested it could soon soften the requirements it places on companies to estimate and disclose their impact on the climate.
Major fossil-fuel giants have put great efforts into rebranding themselves as ‘green’ in recent years. But they are now starting to shift gear. BP, after years of using the slogan ‘Beyond Petroleum’, is quietly moving back to plain-old petroleum. As CEO Bernard Looney stated frankly earlier this month: ‘We have to invest in today’s energy system, and the reality is that today’s energy system is predominantly an oil and gas system. And that needs investment.’ Although changing the corporate strategy of a giant multinational can often be achingly slow, it seems as if ‘reality’ has an expediting effect.
Remember peak oil? We were supposed to have passed the global peak of oil demand back in 2020. But given current trends, peak renewables seems more likely. While politicians will undoubtedly keep paying lip-service and taxpayer money to renewables, the ground really is shifting. Even US president Joe Biden, who in 2019 promised to ‘end fossil fuels’, has seemingly changed his tune. In his State of the Union address last week, he noted that the world will need oil for ‘at least another decade’.
Meanwhile, new data from Germany show that consumers’ willingness to switch from traditional cars to electric vehicles (EVs) declines substantially once government subsidies are reduced. Total EV sales are expected to fall by eight per cent this year in Germany. This may not seem like much, but the trend is going in the exact opposite direction to what would be needed to reach a fossil-free future.
Even Denmark, once known as a wind-power pioneer, is having second thoughts. It is both re-evaluating new renewable-energy projects and reopening the door for a return to nuclear energy.
Poland, which currently relies heavily on coal, has decided to go all-in on nuclear power. It is planning to open up new fleets of both conventional nuclear reactors and, later on, smaller modular ones. Meanwhile, it is creating regulatory hurdles for renewables like wind. In some countries like Germany, people are terrified of living near a nuclear power plant. But in Poland there is just as much resistance to living near wind farms, which is why a new law has increased the minimum distance onshore wind projects must be from people’s homes, from 500 to 700 metres.
The year 2022 marked a decisive shift. Energy security replaced climate change as the world’s top priority. And while politicians’ green rhetoric will carry on as normal, the markets are reflecting this transition. In the US, the market for green bonds has already started to stall as producing clean energy has become less of a priority than producing energy full stop.
This process is not likely to be smooth, however. Politicians and CEOs could still be held accountable for their over-ambitious green promises of recent years. Oil giant Shell, for instance, is currently being sued by some of its shareholders for failing to implement an energy-transition strategy. Like BP, Shell promised to become a Net Zero business by 2050, and it will be difficult to wriggle out of some of these commitments.
The energy crisis was a major wake-up call for the world. It was a reminder that our energy supplies are far more fragile than we often realise. And it made it clear that green technology can rarely be relied on. The exception to this rule is nuclear power, which can produce vast quantities of electricity without any carbon emissions. Despite this, during last year’s global energy crunch, working nuclear power plants were shut down across the world, from California to Germany. This will be seen by future generations as a moment of absolute madness. As will attempts to phase out fossil fuels before reliable replacements are available.
To return to Herbert Stein’s quote, there is a positive to stopping something that cannot go on forever. It forces us to face up to the reality of our energy needs and to reject the green delusions that have dominated decades of policymaking. A complete overhaul of Europe’s energy strategy is long overdue. We cannot afford to keep ignoring reality.
19 thoughts on “Reality Bites: Europe’s Wind & Solar Disaster Forces Serious Reversal On ‘Green’ Transition”
Anyone with half a brain should know that this would be a dismal failure, and would have the eventual affect of bringing a nation to it’s knees. Same with electric cars. Limited use! Okay but don’t try to do away with the only transportation method that runs this country and put battery driven cars or vehicles in it’s place. Once again, that is insanity.
I really hoped that the documentary “Planet of the Humans” would be the turning point for green energy. It thoroughly and convincingly exposed the fraud, waste, and corruption of green energy and was directed by a lifelong environmentalist whose credentials were beyond question. But the green energy loonies just breezed past it as if the film had never happened.
They didn’t entirely breeze past it. They took the time to throw M.M. out of their tribe along the way.
He who laughs last, laughs best.
Wind and solar cannot be stockpiled, like coal or uranium. When demand peaks. more coal is burned or more uranium is exposed.
Carbon – it’s renewable and has been for 13 trillion years.
I have always noted over my life that when the left gets it’s big ideas it lacks the smarts to understand what is doable and what is not. What is realistic and what is fantasy.
Ultimately the whiny babies of the left force the rest of us to stand by and watch them try to force-feed one of their grand solutions to what is often not a problem to begin with.
After a few disasters and spin-off horrors. The adults get back in charge and try to turn it around. It’s a pattern.
No real energy engineers were fooled by green energy. Nor were real environmentalists. The push was by ideologues and opportunists that saw opportunities to push their agenda and feed at the public trough to the harm of the world in general.
EVs, solar and windmills are an environmental disaster in the making. Battery, panel, windmill waste, as well as bird and animal deaths, have been ignored.
Factually, if we were concerned about the environment, we would be scrapping these. Certainly, not providing public funds to prop them up.
With this revelation can the much needed end to the EV hoax be far off? Good news all around. EV’s work very well in your backyard but on the open road – not so much.
Let’s hope this bring the EV to an end.
Haaaa I love it, the Thurnberg Cult looking dumb as ever.
Why is it when you want to look up how much it is to charge an EV a month there are no statistics available on the internet. I suspect because when the Communists in Washington get their way the impact on the lower income family will be immense.
the true goal is for the “lower income family” to NOT even possess a car. Certainly not a driveway full of 4 cars like it is now.
What is more “natural” than removing nature made oil and gas from underground ? Those elements are constantly being produced through tectonic plate movement, pressure and heat. Our planet is an oil making machine, whereas, solar panels, batteries and wind turbines don’t naturally spring up out of the ground like petroleum does.
And uranium is a naturally occurring mineral as well.
The “Greenies” are ill -informed, environ-mental midgets with no appreciation for real nature or man’s place on this earth.
The World’s first grid scale commercial nuclear power station – Calder Hall – was built in North West England.
Construction began in 1953 and was carried out by Taylor Woodrow Construction and was completed in 1956 and was officially opened on 17 October 1956.
That took THREE YEARS, using 1950s technology
Now it takes longer than that to decide what type of biscuits the innumerable committees will consume during their deliberations.
The station was closed on 31 March 2003, the first reactor having been in use for nearly 47 years.
What has gone wrong?
I suspect the Politicians have slowed them down to get a bigger piece of the graft. Politicians are the scourge of our Planet.
“What has gone wrong.”
You’ve probably already seen it, but:
I hadn’t actually Jeff, thanks for pointing it out.
In this five-minute video Mark Mills explains why the green energy transition is not happening. Trillions of dollars of expenditure have hardly moved the needle to green worldwide energy use.
The simple fact of the matter is that subsidised wind and solar power can DISPLACE conventional power (to a point that Britain and Germany have reached) but they can’t REPLACE it.
Wind droughts are the root of the problem. But how did the Dunkelflauts come as a surprise? Surely sailors on the European seas must have known about calm periods for hundreds of years. Why no warning from the recreational sailors of modern times?