A month ago, we wrote that it looked like Berlin was finally ready to get tracking. But a new proposal from Germany’s Environment Minister and its Energy and Economics Minister would prevent the country from fracking for another seven years.Perhaps we should have been more pessimistic. After all, this is the country that pioneered a “green” energy policy that has resulted in increased emissions. In many ways, it embodies everything wrong with the environmental movement. After the Fukushima disaster, it began turning off its nuclear reactors, despite the fact that, unlike Japan, it straddles no active fault lines. It has since been forced to replace that zero-carbon nuclear energy with quite sooty coal-fired power plants, supplemented with expensive and heavily-subsidized renewable energy sources. Germany has accomplished few of its green goals, while its businesses and households now pay some of the highest electricity prices in Europe.Europe desperately needs to develop more of its domestic energy reserves. Continuing to rely heavily on Russian gas is proving more dangerous and costly by the day, and Gazprom’s CEO recently warned his Western customers to expect supply disruptions this winter, once demand increases (and Ukraine starts siphoning off flows). Surely the logic for developing a resource that could supply a tenth of Germany’s power needs is clear: The EU energy commissioner seems to think so, but Germany’s environment minister disagrees, having emphatically told reporters last Friday that “there will be no fracking for economic purposes in Germany in the near future.”A Wall Street Journal editorial puts this decision in some geopolitical context:
Germany currently imports 90% of its gas supply. Yet the country has up to 2.3 trillion cubic meters of domestic shale gas, according to the Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources. “The size of these non-conventional deposits therefore exceeds Germany’s conventional natural gas reserves,” according to German natural-gas producer Wintershall. “And they could continue supplying Germany for up to 100 years with gas assuming the import rate stays the same.” […]German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her Christian Democrats have yet to weigh in on the proposed ban. If enacted, it would leave Germany at the mercy of Vladimir Putin, who has repeatedly used Europe’s energy dependence on Russia to the Kremlin’s geopolitical advantage. Remind us again how increasing Europe’s dependence on a petro-despot helps the environment?
This isn’t over yet. German industry must surely want the country’s leaders to emulate America’s shale success, especially after recent electricity bill hikes. We’ll be watching.