Thursday, March 27, 2014

European Energy

A consensus has developed across Europe that it must seek ways to be less dependent on imported energy. This thought started with nightmares of the Russian army running roughshod over country after country, but the resolve may soon be reinforced when the damage from summer storms and drought is added up, along with new alarm about a warming planet as El NiƱo conditions return. In Germany, worries over Russia might well give the government the excuse it is looking for to keep a few nuclear plants open a few years longer than previously planned. Germany has also indicated it will be seeking natural gas from the United States as a stopgap measure. In the long run, though, wind, solar, and tidal energy will have to become a bigger part of the energy mix in western Europe. It won’t take any breakthroughs to give Europe a greater measure of energy stability. That can be accomplished using existing technology and a whole lot of construction work. Energy construction is something that economists have been suggesting for years as a way for Europe (and the United States, for that matter) to revive its languishing economy. Politicians have talked about energy diversity before, but I believe this time the trend will actually get off the ground and lead to permanent changes in Europe. If so, we may look back to this month as the point when it all got started.