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“An error doesn't become a mistake until you refuse to correct it.” – Orlando Aloysius Battista
If one wanted to destroy an economy from within, it would be hard to do a better job than what Germany is doing to itself. By systematically shutting down baseload-critical nuclear power facilities and replacing them with intermittent renewable energy, Germany has left itself – and by extension, the entire European Union – vulnerable to shortages of reliable sources of electricity. Not satisfied with that error, Germany has further impaled itself by attacking its suppliers of natural gas – the remaining option for producing reliable baseload power, having ruled out nuclear and coal – turning a mistake into a predictable catastrophe.
And a catastrophe is precisely what has befallen Germany and wider Europe. One need look no further than the explosion in the cost of electricity for proof of what this blitzkrieg of stupidity has accomplished. The full fallout from these blunders will continue to reverberate for years to come. Having smashed their fine China on the kitchen floor, we fully expect Germany’s leadership to walk right over the ceramic shards in bare feet.
We’ve argued on several occasions that replacing coal with natural gas and scaling nuclear power alongside renewables like wind and solar is the most sensible energy strategy available to humanity today. Substituting baseload power with exclusively intermittent sources consistently fails those who adopt such a strategy, leading to higher costs, less reliability, economic damage, and rolling blackouts. We find it odd that this empirical evidence is not only routinely ignored, but those who dare point to the data are labeled primitive defenders of the status quo. We prefer to think of ourselves as pro-human realists.
Not satisfied with achieving near-total failure, Sven Giegold, spokesperson for the German Greens in the European Parliament and Vice-Minister of the German Department of Economy and Climate Protection, took to the pages of the Financial Times this week to further commit to unplugging the German pinball machine after having already put it on full tilt (emphasis added throughout this piece):
“The timely implementation of energy infrastructure projects on this scale will require cutting unnecessary bureaucracy and speeding up the notoriously cumbersome German planning and authorisation systems. In the medium term, Germany will switch completely to renewable energies, becoming a global climate leader in the process.
The Green party now has responsibility for the “super ministry” for economy and climate, which will oversee the final stage of Germany’s transition to 100 per cent renewables — while other countries are discussing nuclear power, which is neither ecologically competitive nor economically sustainable.”
Of the six remaining nuclear power reactors in Germany – already down from 17 a mere decade ago – three are scheduled for permanent closure in just a few weeks and the rest will go dormant in 2022. Given that Mr. Giegold’s Greens recently joined a historic three-party governing coalition, we predict dire times ahead for the shivering German citizenry. We suggest they order wool blankets while there’s still some to be had.
Unfortunately for some Americans, especially those living on and near the Pacific Coast, Germany holds no monopoly on dummkopfs. For evidence, consider that the formerly great state of California will soon begin the process of shutting down its last remaining nuclear power facility. The Diablo Canyon Power Plant has been cranking out carbon-free electricity for almost 40 years. It supplies nearly 8% of the state’s total power needs and 10% of what it produces for itself (this might come as a shock to our readers, but California suffers from extreme NIMBY Syndrome, and prefers to import roughly a quarter of its electricity needs from other states). As a share of the state’s baseload power, Diablo is an even more critical asset delivering approximately 20% of the state’s needs. As of this writing, we can find no credible plan to replace this steady and reliable grid anchor. Even the Washington Post Editorial Board is puzzled by this move:
“In 2018, California’s leaders decided to close the state’s last nuclear power plant, at Diablo Canyon, by 2025. Several months later, they approved a bill obligating the state to be carbon-neutral by 2045. These acts of feel-good environmentalism were, in fact, contradictory. If the state is serious about achieving carbon neutrality over the next few decades — and it should be — it cannot start by shutting down a source of emissions-free energy that accounts for nearly 10 percent of its in-state electricity production.”
They go on to quote a detailed study from experts at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford University which implores California’s leaders to reconsider this plainly illogical decision.
No-doubt aghast at their normally on-message editorial peers from the Northeast, the Los Angeles Times Editorial Board felt obliged to make the case for self-inflicted wounds by publishing an opinion piece of their own, appropriately titled “No, California shouldn’t extend the life of its last nuclear plant. There are better ways to fight climate change.” We’d happily quote from their proposed plan to replace this all-important baseload power here, but having read the editorial several times, we can’t find it. We suspect they don’t understand the difference between baseload and intermittent.
After nailing consumers with the left jab of even more rolling blackouts in the future, California has decided to hit them with the right hook of taking away their ability to hedge against such inevitabilities by – wait for it – banning the sale of portable generators! No, seriously. They really did. Here’s a summary from Capital Weekly:
“California’s first-in-the-nation law banning the sale of new gas-powered mowers and blowers also targets a machine that has become increasingly popular with consumers in recent years — portable generators. As people face power blackouts — in areas where utilities have cut power to curb wildfire threats, for example — many have turned to generators as a backup energy source. The new law, AB 1346 by Assemblymember Marc Berman (D-Palo Alto), was signed Oct. 9 by Gov. Newsom. Berman’s bill requires the sale of new small off-road engines to be zero-emission by 2024, or when the Air Resources Board says the cutoff is feasible, whichever is later. ‘Small’ means less than 25 horsepower, and portable gas-powered generators typically have half that level, or less. Portable gas-powered generators would be phased out by 2028.”
We are led by unserious people who never cease to amaze us at their ability to choose worst-of-all-worlds policies at every turn. Rest assured, we’ll never run out of things to write about.
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