Europe’s Crisis:  Blame Green Energy Policy

From MasterResource

By Steve Goreham — June 28, 2023

“The lesson from Europe is that reliance on wind, solar, and imported natural gas is expensive and risky energy policy. If you experience a low-wind year, a cold winter, an embargo, or a war, you can’t turn up the wind and solar.”

The year 2022 was an energy disaster for Europe. Citizens and businesses suffered from astronomical prices for natural gas and electricity, sky-high home energy bills, shuttered industrial plants, and bankrupt companies. Observers have blamed COVID-19 supply chain disruptions and the Russian invasion of Ukraine, but Europe’s green energy policies was the elephant in the room.

For the last two decades, closures of traditional power plants and renewable energy policies made European countries highly dependent upon a combination of intermittent wind and solar sources and natural gas. More than 100 nuclear plants had closed or were scheduled to close, including 30 in Germany and 34 in the United Kingdom. At the same time, 23 nations announced that they would phase out coal.

By 2021, wind, solar, and natural gas provided 48 percent of Germany’s electricity, and provided most of the electricity consumed in Italy (63%), the UK (64%), and the Netherlands (78%). Homes in the Netherlands get 83 percent of their heating energy from natural gas and gas provides 78 percent of heating in UK homes.

Imports provided a rising share of the continent’s energy. In 2000, Europe had produced 56 percent of its natural gas and 44 percent of its petroleum. But the region chose to invest in wind and solar, instead of using hydraulic fracturing to boost oil and gas production. By 2021, Europe was producing only 37 percent of its own natural gas and 25 percent of its petroleum. In addition, rising imports from Russia created a serious dependency. Russia provided Europe with 27 percent of its natural gas, 17 percent of its crude oil, and 38 percent of its coal in 2021.

In 2017, the European Commission released a study that identified 49 shale formations in Europe that contained either natural gas or oil, with major shale potential in Bulgaria, France, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Ukraine, and the UK. One major shale field, the Fennoscandian Shield, stretches across Northern Europe, from England to the Baltic States. But Europe chose to fracture none of these fields and to rely on intermittent wind and solar and natural gas imports.

Then in 2021, the wind didn’t blow much in Europe. Electricity output from wind was down by 20ꟷ30 percent from historical norms. To compensate for the loss of wind output, utilities burned gas to generate electricity. By the end of the year, stocks of natural gas were unusually low and gas prices were rising.

Natural gas prices in Europe averaged about 13ꟷ18 Euros per Megawatt-hour (€/MWh) during 2019 and 2020. With economic recovery and the decrease in wind electricity output during 2021, prices soared to 80 €/MWh by December 2021. This was a price increase of about five times that occurred two months prior to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Electricity prices also skyrocketed, up by a factor of six by the end of 2021, again prior to the invasion.

When Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022, prices exploded. The price of natural gas in Europe immediately jumped to over 100 €/MWh, and the price of crude oil rose to over $100 per barrel. Russian energy exports to Europe began to fall. In April, the European Union agreed to ban coal imports from Russia. Russian flows of gas to Europe dropped by 80 percent by July 2022. Natural gas prices soared to over 200 €/MWh by August. Monthly average electricity prices had doubled again, up by 10 times from the first half of 2020.

The unprecedented hike in energy prices caused a step-function decline in Europe’s standard of living. Even after the price controls used by the UK government, UK homeowners spent as much as 10 percent of their income on home and vehicle energy, which was more than during the oil crises of the 1970s. UK residents cooked less often, took fewer showers, and turned down the heating in their homes. Household gas bills in Germany more than doubled from 2021 to 2022, and oil heating bills were up by three-quarters. Germans showered and shaved at work when possible. Energy bills for Italian families were the highest in 25 years.

The crisis bankrupted several energy supply companies. By February 2022, 31 UK suppliers of natural gas, serving two million customers, had gone out of business. Price controls had forced these firms to sell gas at prices below their wholesale purchase price. Uniper SE, Germany’s largest natural gas provider, was forced to buy gas at exorbitant prices after Russian giant Gazprom halted shipments due to the war in Ukraine. In September 2022, the German government acquired the company for over €20 billion, but the cost, including daily losses, is expected to approach €100 billion.

High energy prices heavily impacted energy-intensive industries. Natural gas is essential to produce ammonia, which is used to make urea and ammonium nitrate fertilizer. Europe’s fertilizer producers without long-term gas contracts lost money on every ton of fertilizer produced. More than half of Europe’s ammonia production and 33 percent of its nitrogen fertilizer production, shut down in 2022.

Metals producers were clobbered. One metric ton of aluminum requires about 15 megawatt-hours of power, costing €7,000 at August 2022 prices, but could only be sold for less than €2,500. Half of Europe’s aluminum and zinc output was forced to close. Hundreds of companies in chemicals, fertilizer, energy, metals, steel, glass, paper, and food processing struggled to operate. Energy policies appear to have set the table for a new era of deindustrialization in Europe.

Publicly, European officials continue to support Net Zero and a transition to renewable energy. But nations are stepping back from green policies. On July 6, 2022, the European Parliament voted to classify nuclear and natural gas projects as “environmentally sustainable.” Netherlands resumed drilling for gas, and Denmark, Italy, and Norway announced plans to increase gas production. Twenty-five new liquified natural gas (LNG) import terminals were in process or planned by the fall of 2022. It was the ramp in LNG shipments from the US and other nations during 2022 that kept the lights on in Europe this last winter.

With soaring gas prices, power generation from coal in France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, and the UK grew more than 20 percent from 2021 to 2022 combined. Germany restarted 27 coal-fired power plants. This increased consumption of coal ran counter to national pledges to phase out coal.

Natural gas and electricity prices fell over the last six months but remain high. Gas prices have fallen to about 30 €/MWh, double 2020 prices, and electricity prices remain about triple 2020 prices. But Europe may be in trouble again if the upcoming winter is a cold one.

The lesson from Europe is that reliance on wind, solar, and imported natural gas is expensive and risky energy policy. If you experience a low-wind year, a cold winter, an embargo, or a war, you can’t turn up the wind and solar.


Steve Goreham is a speaker on energy, the environment, and public policy and the author of the new book Green Breakdown: The Coming Renewable Energy Failure.

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Rud Istvan
June 28, 2023 2:43 pm

This EU nonsense will only stop when the pain from climate action exceeds the false fear of climate inaction.
The pain comes in several guises:

  1. Lost jobs as industry is forced to go elsewhere.
  2. Lower living standards as more income is forcibly diverted to energy.
  3. Deaths from cold in winter from wind dependent grid failures.

The false fears were quite deliberately created by several ‘state’ actors:

  1. Russia supporting greens to oppose fracking on absurd earthquake grounds, so it could sell its gas. That rationale ended with the Ukraine invasion, but the artificial fear of fracking didn’t.
  2. ’Settled’ IPCC science claimed sea level rise would accelerate, Arctic summer sea ice would disappear, and UK children would soon not know snow. None of this happened. The false fear is—-yet!
  3. Renewable sellers thriving off fear based subsidies amplified (2) for personal gain.

If Charles Mackay were alive today, he would add AGW as a separate chapter to a revised edition of his classic Extraordinary Delusions and the Madness of Crowds.

Reply to  Rud Istvan
June 28, 2023 3:10 pm

Yes Rud, the lunacy of the climate crisis cult knows no bounds.

Check out the logic & irony disconnect with this guy –

His paid gig requires the 50-year-old to drive a mini-mix concrete truck around suburban Melbourne. His volunteer work has resulted in him being arrested 13 times for taking part in protests meant to disrupt an economic system driving a climate and ecological emergency.

So he’s distributing CO2- emitting concrete in a CO2-emitting diesel truck, but he rails against the climate-destroying work he does. What tha?

[story tip]

Rud Istvan
Reply to  Mr.
June 28, 2023 3:15 pm

That example is going into my growing collection of illogical but true ridicules. Other examples include Al Gore and Leonard DiCaprio ‘carbon’ peccadillos, and the number of private jets that annually fly into WEF Davos. Including of course John Kerry.
Visual ridicule of climate hypocrites can be a potent antiAlarm weapon.

J Boles
Reply to  Mr.
June 28, 2023 3:58 pm

Odd how they take “ecological collapse” as an article of faith. It is a religion.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  J Boles
June 29, 2023 7:47 am

The ecology is doing fine. My trees and garden and lawn are growing better than ever.

Reply to  Rud Istvan
June 29, 2023 1:23 am

I’ve purchased and read Arts of Truth and Blowing Smoke. You still pay attention to the same subject matters. Have you considered updating either of these books near to their 10 year anniversary? Not because the truth has changed, but because some people may think that the debates have moved on since that time.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  Rud Istvan
June 29, 2023 7:44 am

Hopefully, they’ll wake up- but, cultists seldom do. The war might do it.

Ronald Stein
June 28, 2023 3:16 pm

The World Needs More Than Intermittent Electricity from Wind and Solar.
Wind and solar manufacture nothing for the eight billion on this planet as they can only generate intermittent electricity from unreliable breezes and sunshine.

Ridding the world of oil, without a replacement in mind, would be immoral and evil, as extreme shortages of the products now manufactured from fossil fuels will result in billions of fatalities from diseases, malnutrition, and weather-related deaths, and could be the greatest threat to the world’s population.



Reply to  Ronald Stein
June 29, 2023 8:53 am



Huge UK/US Offshore Wind Turbine Build Outs are Pure Fantasies

UK government bureaucrats, etc., justify the build out of 26,000 MW of additional wind turbines by 2030, in less than 7 years, because: 1) the UK is the “Saudi Arabia of Wind”, and 2) several hundred thousand new jobs will be created, and 3) household electric bills will be lower. 

It took more than 23 years for the UK to expensively build 14,000 MW of offshore wind turbines by end 2022, that produce high-cost electricity, and caused greatly increased household electric bills.
How many steady, long-term jobs, with good benefits, were created due to wind turbines in the UK?

BTW, Biden wants to build 30,000 MW offshore wind turbines by 2030, a pure fantasy, that thus far has been killing dozens of whales, before even a single 850-ft-tall wind turbine has been erected!
A UK/US total of 56,000 MW in 7 years, or 8,000 MW/y

There exists no worldwide physical infrastructure to do that: All five of Europe’s wind turbine manufacturers have been making huge losses for 30 months

The industry in Europe has told the EU: “We simply don’t have enough factories and infrastructure to build and install the volumes Europe wants”

Wind Europe CEO, Giles Dickson in a Press release, 16 March 2023, ‘EU Green Industry Plan falls short for now’

Plus, the UK 26,000 MW build-out would be at much higher turnkey cost per MW, and would produce much more expensive electricity, c/kWh, than the existing 14,000 MW of offshore wind turbines

How in hell do these demented bureaucrats get into these jobs?
Why do their words get magnified by the government-subsidized media mouthpieces?

World Energy Outlook 2022, issued by European Information Energy Agency, IEA
“From 80% today, a level constant for decades, EIA predicts fossil fuels to decrease to about 75% by 2030, and to about 60% by 2050”

EIA is not just optimistic, but irrational! Those fossil decrease numbers would require enormous capacity, MW, increases in wind and solar, which is not going to happen.
Not in the UK, the self-proclaimed Saudi-Arabia of wind, which is already impoverished, inefficient, uncompetitive and hopelessly mismanaged, with high inflation, high interest rates

Not in the US, which does not even have an offshore wind industry.

Gunga Din
June 28, 2023 3:31 pm

The message from those who don’t own a shovel, “Dig your own grave and be happy about it.”
They aren’t happy but they’ve already ceded authority. Some may even believe those who say they are “happy”.
(Greta, wake up girl. Your message is killing people.)

June 28, 2023 3:37 pm

The year 2022 was an energy disaster for Europe.

All for the sake of two fantasies:

CO2 causes global warming.Wind and solar are cheaper sources of electricity than fossil or nuclear fuels.In my view it needs to get a good deal worse before the dogma is challenged on scientific grounds.

Leo Smith
Reply to  RickWill
June 28, 2023 9:52 pm

You seem to think that those promoting renewables actually believe in them, or global warming, rather than simply using them as an excuse for ‘state captured’ profiteering…

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  Leo Smith
June 29, 2023 7:48 am

Some probably believe in their faith- the naive ones. Others are opportunists.

CD in Wisconsin
June 28, 2023 6:15 pm

Why is it that politicians (among others) have such a hard time acknowledging the destructive consequences of their policies? Must Europe wait until the damage is complete before they decide to listen to someone else who promises to fix things?

I am half-tempted to believe that Europe’s politicians actually realize that there are problems with CAGW and their green energy policies. But admitting that they’ve taken Europe down the wrong road is out of the question because it will make them look like fools are charlatans. And it serves to reinforce my general cynicism of politicians, whatever their strip.

CD in Wisconsin
Reply to  CD in Wisconsin
June 28, 2023 6:16 pm

Stripe, not strip.

Reply to  CD in Wisconsin
June 29, 2023 2:42 am

Or stamp.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  CD in Wisconsin
June 29, 2023 7:51 am

I bet Putin realizes his big mistake invading Ukraine- but he surely won’t admit it. He still talks about Nazis. At least Prighozin admited the truth- that there were few Nazis in Ukraine and the country didn’t need being dimiliterized since it had a small army and was no threat but now it has a huge, powerful army. He also admited Russian casualities are much higher than what’s published. He had a powerful reality check- Putin hasn’t. In the same way, the climatistas need a reality check.

Douglas Pollock
June 28, 2023 6:33 pm

The problems for Europe are not that there may be seasonal low wind speeds. The following are the real issues:

While unreliables, aka renewables, go randomly their way, demand goes its own, leading to the need of:For every single MWh of renewable generation there must be at least 1 MW of thermal generation capacity ready at all times to dispatch electricity when the wind or sun decide to go away or to play about hiding behind a cloud, the wind getting lazy or running too fast. The West is not doing so. On the contrary, it is dismantling thermal power sources to directly replace them by those dead weight renewables. The West greatest mistake. This leads to:The need of backup generation becomes mandatory to ensure electricity supply and grid stability. What source can get the grid out of blackouts? Natural gas. Coal, nuclear, biomass, geothermal and other beauties cannot simply because rabbits and turtles run at different speeds.Last but not the least: many European nations have already surpassed the limit above which all renewable generation will go anywhere but to the electrical grid, i.e., it is lost. Examples? U.K., Germany. Spain, Denmark, Ireland and, recently, Italy. Beyond that limit, no more green and sustainable renewable electricity, no more, if any, CO2 emissions reduction, only skyrocketing electricity bills increase and, these ones, in abundance.
Best wishes Europe.

June 28, 2023 9:00 pm

Every EU leader, administrator and bureaucrat should be fired.

Reply to  Bob
June 29, 2023 2:43 am

Or (preferably) shot.

Leo Smith
June 28, 2023 9:47 pm

I dont believe that the UK ever had 30 nuclear reactors. Something wrong with that statistic

Reply to  Leo Smith
June 29, 2023 3:17 am
Ben Vorlich
June 28, 2023 10:56 pm

Britain is to be left without backup coal power plants this winter after the energy companies Drax and EDF confirmed plans to close their remaining stations.

The National Grid on Wednesday said it had ended talks with the two companies about keeping open West Burton A, in Nottinghamshire, and two coal-fired units at Drax’s plant in Selby, Yorkshire, after they made clear that the sites would not be available.

Reply to  Ben Vorlich
June 29, 2023 6:18 am

And interestingly – or unsurprisingly – both Drax and EDF have an affiliation to the World Empire of Fascism. I can only suppose that German company Uniper that operates the only other coal plant in England does not – or puts greater value on making money from running the plant this winter. Or indeed this summer as coal generation has already been needed due to low wind and it being too sunny for the solar panels.

Yes, amazing isn’t it that even in England it can get too hot for solar panels to work efficiently. You would think that given we will soon be having a Mediterranean climate, they did not factor that in to the spec.

June 29, 2023 1:01 am

The 2001 chart shows for France Germany and the UK together what is regularly apparent for the UK alone from a glance at wind is not a technology which is fit for purpose in this application.

No technology capable of this scale of unpredictable failure is.

The dog that fails to bark at this? Nick Stokes! Its unarguable. Net Zero in power production is obviously not doable with this technology.

June 29, 2023 4:27 am

“…after Russian giant Gazprom halted shipments due to the war in Ukraine…”
Er, no. After EU ineptocrats sanctioned themselves from Russian gas, and the US sabotaged three of the four Nordstream pipelines.

It doesnot add up
Reply to  Erny72
June 29, 2023 6:47 pm

Er, no. The Russians halted deliveries first on the Yamal line via Belarus and Poland to Germany. They were cut back on the operational Nordstream I line progressively, and also on the EUstream line. Halted altogether into Romania and Finland. Then halted altogether at the end of August on Nordstream I. None of that was the result of sanctions, and indeed Russian LNG continued to flow and still continues to flow into EU countries. The UK stopped shipments in March last year, but they regularly discharge in Belgium, Spain, France, Netherlands and Portugal. There is still a limited flow on EUstream across the Ukraine into Austria. Only after most of the pipeline exports had been suspended for a month was Nordstream blown up.

It was clear that the Russians had hoped that progressive tightening of the screws on cutting exports would cause the EU, and particularly Germany as its dominant party, to beg for reinstatement of exports in exchange for acquiescing to Russian occupation of at least the Russian speaking areas of the Ukraine which also happen to contain most of the interesting resources. Of course, while the pipelines remained merely shut down the Germans could afford to delay any decision on support for Russia until they had no alternative. The explosions effectively speeded up that timeline.

The Russians eventually managed to run an extensive survey of the Nordstream pipelines after the explosions using the vessel Nefrit, assessing that they were repairable, but the process would take many months if it proceeded. Germany decided to make alternative arrangements to start importing LNG directly via new floating LNG terminals at a large cost premium to what they had paid for Russian gas, though they have not been buying Russian cargoes. Of course, any repair would also have entailed EU/German support for Russian occupation in Ukraine.

Whilst it is quite clear that the German cover story alleging that the Ukraine was responsible using a small yacht has more holes in it than the pipeline, and the action would have required naval and ROV capability as the so far released findings of the Swedish investigators make clear. There were certainly Russian vessels in the area capable of launching the operation, and possibly (although the evidence is less clear) US vessels that could have done so. The Swedes may have some smoking gun evidence that would help decide which major naval power was actually responsible. Both Russia and the US remain in the frame.

Reply to  It doesnot add up
June 30, 2023 1:32 pm

It’s also quite possible that ineptitude in shutting down the pipelines led to accumulations of methane hydride that eventually blew them up internally. If you shut down a gas pipeline but don’t intend that to be permanent, it should be purged before shutdown. That requires cooperation at both ends, and will take much longer than a raging politician will demand.

June 29, 2023 8:00 am

When anyone asks me about renewable power sources, I give them this simple analogy
You have two fields, some miles apart – in field one, you install a 100Mn wind farm and a 100Mn solar farm, in field two, you install a 250Mn wind farm and a 250Mn solar farm, all financed via taxpayer funded contracts and subsidies
On any day when the wind is too low (less than 9mph), or too high (55mph or greater), at night, all that almost 1 billion pounds worth of kit, is producing zero, zilch power – in any given year, that happens a lot, more so during the dark, wind stilled winter months – you just need to check the generation graphs on the gridwatch website to see this is fact
These taxpayer subsidised renewable farms are replicated in their thousands, onshore & offshore and the same basic laws of physics apply as above
if someone asked me to voluntarily invest my hard earned cash, family home, pensions into these expensive, intermittent power sources, I would decline, as it is in reality, taxpayers cannot decline, these useless engineeringly incompetent power sources are just foisted on them
Indeed, if these renewable farms were simply left to market forces, no lucrative CfD contracts, no subsidies, no lucrative constraint payments etc, no one would invest in, or willingly subsidise them and they would simply fade into non existence
Intermittents will never replace coal, gas or nuclear power generation, it’s only a matter of time, probably after cold winters and power cuts, that our incompetent, ideologically compromised leaders cotton on, by then, society will have been plunged to new depths of poverty, starvation and cold related deaths

Gary Pearse
July 1, 2023 7:48 pm

“With soaring gas prices, power generation from coal in France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, and the UK grew more than 20 percent from 2021 to 2022”

You hear a lot about the $Trillion a year being spent on renewables, but little mention of the earlier han expected retirement of windmills: 12yrs.

In 2021, I read that with retirements of wind farms the, bankruptcy of renewables energy companies, drying up of sources of investment and inflation, that peak renewables occurred in 2017 (predating the Ukraine war). With more of the same, I would say, the renewables peak is still the same (cant find the link to the peak).

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