Germany, France, Italy: The future is ... coal?

(106 miles)

Add the Netherlands and Austria to that list, too. After a couple of decades of a shortsighted addiction to cheap Russian gas, European nations now need a fast way to regain their energy independence. And that ain’t windmills and solar power, the Washington Post reports:

The last coal pits around Bexbach closed a decade ago, leaving the power plant puffing plumes of pollutants as a relic of a dying regional industry.

But now plant equipment is being repaired, contractors have come out of retirement, and manager Michael Lux is faced with a novel prospect: expanding the head count. …

France, Italy, Austria and the Netherlands have all announced plans to reactivate old coal power plants. But nowhere are the plans as extensive as in Germany, which is allowing 21 coal plants to restart or work past planned closing dates for the next two winters.

That means a scramble for an industry that has been in its death throes in Germany. And some experts warn that may make it harder for the country to meet its climate goals.

If these countries had a real interest in meeting their climate goals, they wouldn’t have relied on Russian gas imports in the first place. They would have expanded nuclear power to replace their coal infrastructure, and would have made it a long-term investment. That would have allowed the EU nations to have flexibility and scalability to deal with power disruptions and demand spikes in energy markets while keeping Vladimir Putin from acquiring the wealth necessary to power his nakedly imperialist military aggression in Georgia and Ukraine.

Instead, Germany not only decommissioned their coal plants but also shuttered their nuclear power infrastructure as well — even though the latter is a true zero-carbon scalable energy source. They made a pretense of green energy with windmills and solar power while relying on Russia to do the dirty work, almost literally, with a scalable supply of natural gas. That’s a pretty clear indication that zero-emission targets were a lot less of a priority than looking fashionable by adopting unscalable and environmentally pretentious forms of energy rather than making rational calculations based on demand, supply, and geopolitical consequences.

And it’s not as if Germany wasn’t warned about the latter, especially in regard to NordStream II. The Trump administration repeatedly warned against it, going so far as to push sanctions to stop it. The Germans finally abandoned it after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, but have dragged their heels on ending Russian imports of gas through other means.

Now, with the scales falling from eyes in its capitals, the future of energy in Europe is now coal. That will likely be short term while nuclear power regains traction, perhaps especially in its newest technologies. We should take an object lesson from the folly and pretense of Green New Deals, but we won’t as long as Biden’s in office.