Is Germany finally ready to keep the green dream alive by fracking?

Germany’s once promising Energiewende ambitions, which included virtually ridding the country of nuclear power while heavily subsidizing wind and solar with the eventual goal of transitioning electricity production to 60 percent renewables by 2050, hasn’t worked out too well. The country’s rising energy prices have hurt consumers and ruined their manufacturing competitiveness, while the costliness and unreliability of wind and solar has prompted energy producers to turn back to the coal-powered plants in droves — resulting in a net increase in carbon emissions.

Germany has already started to back down from the ideological precipice onto which it hoisted itself in all of its noble eagerness to serve as the world’s environmentalist pioneer in energy-sector central planning, and in perhaps an even bigger acknowledgement that it’s time to step away from that ledge, Angela Merkel’s government looks like it’s finally ready to give shale drilling its due. Via the Financial Times:

Germany is set to lift its ban on fracking as early as next year, after caving in to business demands that it should reduce its dependency on Russian energy and boost competitiveness with US manufacturers.

Applications to carry out the controversial process for extracting the country’s estimated 2.3tn cubic metres shale gas reserves will be subject to an environmental impact assessment under new legislation to be discussed by the cabinet before the summer recess. …

Details of the new regulations emerged in a letter from Sigmar Gabriel, German economy minister, to the head of the Bundestag’s budget committee. In the letter, Mr Gabriel wrote that permission to carry out fracking would be subject to approval from regional water authorities and that “further requirements for the fracking permit process are still being considered”. …

Germany’s estimated reserves of shale gas are significantly smaller than those of Poland and France, which have the biggest recoverable reserves in Europe. However, German shale gas, which is concentrated in its northern states, still has the potential to provide a long-term domestic supply.

Bowing to environmentalist demands, Germany has had an unofficial moratorium on fracking, a.k.a. the innovative technologies that have unlocked the United States’ shale reserves, for the past couple of years. The resulting upswing in cleaner-burning natural gas here in the good ol’ U.S. of A. has provided an incredible boom to our economy while reducing our carbon emissions at the same time — and with Russia having lately exploded Europe’s concept of energy security, it looks like Germany is finally ready to get on board.