In the summer of 1948, Joseph Stalin decided to suffocate West Berlin by cutting off the rails and roads that carried food and fuel to the isolated city in the middle of East Germany. In response, the U.S. Air Force supplied the besieged city by air. This arduous task required that an airplane land at Templehof Airport every forty-five seconds. After eleven months, Stalin accepted defeat for one of the few times in his bloody career.
Repeating the Errors of History
Incredibly, Germany seems to have forgotten the lessons that Stalin taught it. Germany is Europe’s powerhouse, but it depends on Vladimir Putin for electricity and heat—the same fuel the Russians tried to take away almost 75 years ago.
This dependency is self-inflicted. Since the turn of the millennium, Germany adopted a new variety of socialism that cuts off its energy. In this version, green replaced red as the color of choice. The Germans call it Energiewende, which means “energy turn.” A more figurative rendering might be “Germany’s Green New Deal.” The country has spent the last two decades deliberately shutting down its ability to produce energy.
Under the spell cast by its Green Party, Germany gambled its future on “renewable energy,” primarily solar panels and windmills.
The Green World View
The international “Green Movement” often promotes the idea that wind and solar can provide all the energy that “the planet” needs. However, the people on the planet are considerably more demanding. Wind and solar are inherently undependable. Some days are not sunny; the wind does not always blow.
Another Green article of faith is the idea that renewable breakthroughs are kept off the market by energy companies. They paint a picture of a proverbial “fat cat” Texas oilman in a black suit and string tie gorging on dollars as the world grows increasingly polluted. According to this narrative, these characters know how to make wind and solar work but hide that information to ensure their profit margins.
Their “white knight” is the government. Only a massive transfusion of government power can simultaneously subsidize and mandate renewables while taxing the energy companies into oblivion.
The German Experiment
Germany was supposed to prove that a modern industrialized economy could function on green energy.
The result has been an epic failure. According to energy analyst Michael Shellenberger, the German government has spent $36 billion a year since 2000 on solar and wind. At the same time, they have shuttered almost all of their electric generating plants, a process projected to continue through 2022. Yet the average German home pays 150% of what a French family pays for electricity. Over a third of that energy comes from Russia. The German Foreign Minister, Annalena Baerbock, admits that Germany gets half of its coal from Russia—and coal use climbed eighteen percent during 2021 alone.
Until the Russian invasion of Ukraine, non-German interest in these facts was largely academic. Now, everyone is concerned. Few foreign policy analysts believe that Putin’s ambitions end with absorbing Ukraine. Poland, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania—NATO members all—share borders with Russia. They were once parts of the Soviet Empire. Are they also on Putin’s wish list? Would Germany honor its NATO commitments and defend its allies against the country that provides their electricity and oil?
One other international energy conundrum complicates this already dire picture. According to a study by Sheffield Hallam University in the United Kingdom, solar panel production relies on “solar-grade polysilicon.” Nearly three-quarters of the world’s supply of that element comes from China, Russia’s ally.
Lessons for the United States
Many Americans share Germany’s green passion. On February 7, 2019, sixty-eight U.S. House of Representatives members submitted a resolution containing a “Green New Deal.” Among the proposals in this proposal was “meeting 100 percent of the power demand in the United States through clean, renewable, and zero-emission energy sources.”
One hundred percent means that every electric power plant using coal, oil, natural gas or nuclear power would be deactivated. Every oil refinery, coal mine, and gas well would close permanently. Every kilowatt or BTU used by a business, home or vehicle would be generated by windmills, solar panels, or some other as-yet-unknown and unproven technology.
Such a plan might be a dream come true for the Green Movement, Russia and China, but it is a nightmare for everyone else.
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