As Europe prepares for energy shortages this winter, German state authorities have recently launched a campaign to help educate its people on how to survive prolonged power outages. It involves teaching how to “cook without electricity.”
Germany relies heavily on natural gas to power and heat itself during the winter, but a massive supply crunch has caused prices to shoot up dramatically. This adds insult to injury as customers in Germany already spend the most on energy.
This lack of natural gas supply is being compounded by reduced output from wind power. So much so that coal overtook wind as the top source of electricity. With the energy crisis looming, this might make German legislators rethink their wind-down of nuclear and coal power by 2038. These two sources alone represent 39% of all electricity generated in the country.
It is clear that as the world sets lofty targets for renewables, which in the case of the Germans has somewhat backfired, there is a massive demand for reliable energy sources like natural gas.
On the home front in North America, there has been an ongoing battle between anti-natural gas ENGO groups demanding a ban on exploration and production. Despite the International Energy Agency saying that natural gas has a climate benefit over traditional fuel sources, activists continue to fight it. For heating and cooking, they often make claims such as “using natural gas for cooking can give your children asthma” even though most studies are inconclusive. In Canada, the federal government even acknowledges that natural gas for cooking is safe for use.
Quebec is humming and hawing on the idea of a full-on ban on exploration and production for oil and gas. The province is also a net importer of energy and gets most of its natural gas from the US. With a growing surge in prices as well as fears of supply shortages, there are calls for the US to stop exports of natural gas. This could leave the province with an energy shortage, during what some predict might be a cold winter. Ironically, Quebec has a significant supply of natural gas that could be developed and used as a safeguard against those measures.
Even Texas saw the perils of the lack of reliable energy when a winter storm caused $50 billion in damage and 111 deaths.
Back in Europe, German leaders should be championing more natural gas production to bump up supply and reduce the load on Germany’s overburdened electrical system. At least then they could “cook with natural gas” and keep themselves powered with it too, instead of not cooking with anything at all.
Germany’s new public service campaign gives a stark warning of what could come from bumpy energy transition plans. Moving too fast on getting rid of oil and gas can leave you out in the cold, literally.