The American Interest
Analysis by Walter Russell Mead & Staff
Europe Wants "Backsies" on Green Energy Policies

energyprices

Europe’s stratospheric energy prices and economic doldrums are forcing a basic rethink of energy policies. The FT reports:

[There is] a growing fear in Europe that rising energy prices now pose a threat to the industrial competitiveness of a region mired in recession. It has been driven home by a steady stream of announcements from European manufacturers about plans to build new production facilities in the US. [...]

Wind and solar power come at a premium; setting quotas for energy produced from these sources is going to drive prices up. This is what happens when you try and prop up technologies not ready to compete on their own merits. You become less competitive with regions that haven’t handicapped themselves.

The US, you’ll notice, has seen electricity prices drop over the past seven years, largely because of the shale energy revolution. Shale isn’t zero-carbon, but it does burn cleaner than coal, and it’s providing American consumers and industry with cheap energy.

Europe has shale reserves of its own, and leaders in Brussels are expected to make overtures today toward developing domestic energy sources. But as Poland is finding out, shale energy is not a tap to be turned on with a twist of the wrist. Countries need to set up the right regulatory environment to appeal to American drillers, who at the moment have all the expertise in fracking and horizontal well drilling. Europe’s geology might also make playing catch-up more difficult; the “wedding cake” layering of American rock makes it particularly well-suited to horizontal drilling.

We hear so much about how green energy is good for the economy. It’s interesting that the citadel of global greenery is thinking of throwing in the towel.

Published on May 23, 2013 8:15 am
  • Atanu Maulik

    I can feel for them. How much of this green bullshit can one take ?

  • Pete

    “We hear so much about how green energy is good for the economy. It’s interesting that the citadel of global greenery is thinking of throwing in the towel.”

    Ah, the inmates who were running the Green asylum are finally being rounded up and put back in their padded cells.

    Love it!

  • Jim Luebke

    Expensive energy is a drag on the whole economy, increasing the cost of every operation in that economy. I’m shocked that the Best and the Brightest (who typically love trying to claim scientific rigor for economics) don’t recognize this as a huge amount of friction, reducing economic efficiency.

  • David Lobron

    An article in the Boston Globe from 5/26 suggests another side to this: sometimes green energy projects create good jobs in otherwise depressed areas. The city of Fall River, Mass. is trying to learn from Bremerhaven, Germany:

    http://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2013/05/25/new-bedford-looks-wind-city/7XnssjgXcWhVEAtFdgdkhJ/story.html

    It’s worth noting that the Koch brothers are fanatical opponents of offshore wind, personally financing much of the opposition’s legal challenge. It’s not just environmentalists who sometimes forget to think of the working class: rich people do the same thing, with only selfishness as justification.