The Ukraine crisis currently shows just how dependent Europe is, especially on Russian oil and gas. The EU spent a total of EUR 421 billion on energy imports in 2012.
The place: somewhere in a rehab clinic: Europe was exhausted and recovering from its high of the last few years
The crisis with Russia over energy shows just how dependent Europe is on energy imports, especially on Russian oil and gas. The EU spent a total of EUR 421 billion on energy imports in 2012. The greatest part of this was imports from Russia, adding up to roughly one third of total oil and gas imports, as well as large amounts of coal. Russian investors are even playing a role in planned new nuclear power plants. As a result, Europe is already flirting with the idea of shifting its dependence on new suppliers. But increasing reliance on the Middle East or North America is no long-term solution.
...when men in suits show up at the bedside
Europe's largest power companies are gravely concerned by the current situation, as their business model is increasingly threatened. With the right policies and investments, renewable power could provide most of Europe's electricity, driving the energy giants out of business. Most of the renewable energy can be provided by small and medium businesses, cooperatives with wind turbines, and farmers and private citizens with solar panels. The large energy corporations will do anything not to lose their market dominance.
Their vision is a Europe that is still dependent on oil, gas, coal and nuclear power. And, they assure us, there's plenty more where that came from!
To compensate for failed investments in coal, gas and nuclear power plants, Europe's energy giants lobby against renewable energy and energy efficiency, in part via their powerful representatives in Brussels. Their promise is to keep the lights on with new oil, new gas, new coal and new uranium.
What an enticing promise! And so Europe hands over the helm.
But, as we pick up speed, the energy corporations withhold from Europe the fact that renewable energy can securely and reliably cover our entire energy demand. As long as the supplied fractions remain small, supply and demand can be balanced by ordinary grid management. Intelligent integration becomes important as soon as the fraction of wind and solar energy approaches 30% or more. The solution is to distribute a mix of various energy sources over a large area. This requires intelligent systems to bring everything together and to ensure that the lights never go out.
But suddenly, out of the blue: a gaping abyss!
On 26 and 27 June, European leaders meet in Brussels to discuss Europe's energy future. Will they bow to powerful energy business lobbies and push Europe into the abyss? Will they keep Europe dependent on polluting and unreliable foreign energy? Or will they make the logical choice and back saving energy, developing home-grown renewables and phasing out nuclear energy, coal, oil and gas?
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