We won’t solve any crisis as long as global leaders cling to outdated fossil-nuclear thinking patterns.

EU President von der Leyen, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, French President Macron, Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing Wen, as well as most other global leaders – they are all characterized by the fact that in their important high-ranking functions they have almost always viewed energy security solely from a fossil-nuclear perspective. To the present day they have prioritised the business interests of the big energy companies, whose focus is fossil-nuclear.  

These global leaders subordinated the resulting geopolitical tensions and climate protection in their policy of procuring crude oil, natural gas, coal and uranium, although the consequences have been foreseeable for decades. They have not effectively promoted domestic renewable energies as the only real solution for energy security. For that reason, they are largely responsible for the fact that the EU and other regions are now highly dependent on energy supplies from autocratic countries and they bear a large share of the blame for the current, ever worsening energy problems, geopolitical tensions and global warming.  

In midst of the current multidemensional crises one might think that these global leaders would have gained new insights and would have realised that by now all efforts must be put accelerate the expansion of renewable energies at maximum speed. However, thats not the case. Instead, the famous saying of Hermann Scheer, German politician and co-author of the Renewable Energy Sources Act, applies: “Those who have created a problem cannot solve it.”  

This becomes obvious in the current actions and high-profile activities of global leaders to contain the energy crisis. Right now, they spend a lot of time visiting hotspots of the fossil fuel industry which means looking for solutions where they cannot be found. Instead of seriously engaging with people who are preventing the expansion of renewable energies and urging them to finally solve the blockades, they still serve the interests of the fossil and nuclear economy.  

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz  

For example, German Chancellor Scholz has still not been to Bavaria, the state that has been the biggest blocker of the energy transition for years and is hence now facing particularly massive energy problems in the coming winter. If Chancellor Scholz came to Bavaria, met with the citizens’ communities, who have wanted to build wind turbines or open-space solar plants for years, and explained them how the Bavarian government has been obstructing them for years with anti-windpower-regulations, permit harassment, lack of land designations and more, the pressure on the Bavarian government would be enormous. They couldn’t keep up the blockades any longer.  

But instead of sending such signals about the unprecedented urgency of expanding renewables across the country, Scholz has just held a high-profile appointment to inspect the Siemens gas turbine for the Nordstream 1 pipeline in order to document that it is operational. Again, a commitment to the fossil natural gas industry. It was supposed to be a signal to President Putin, who  will surely only have laughed at this waste of time by a German Chancellor.   

French President Emmanuel Macron   

Another example for persisting fossil nuclear patterns of thought is the French President Emmanuel Macron. He aims to build 14 new nuclear power plants and to continue operation of the existing ones with 50-year longevity extensions to enable French energy security in the years ahead.  This strategy seems particularly absurd in light of France’s recent experiences with new nuclear construction and operation.  For example, the only new nuclear power plant built in France, the EPR reactor in Flamanville, is still not in operation since construction started in 2007 and planned commissioning in 2012. Construction costs have skyrocketed by at least three times.  With this in mind, the plans for the construction of 14 new reactors will certainly not be feasible before 2050 and hence will by no means be part of a solution to the the current energy crisis.

Quite the opposite, France’s 56 nuclear power plants contribute significantly to the European energy crisis. Up to 50% of the French nuclear power plants had to be shut down recently, partly because significant safety risks had been discovered due to cracks in the cooling pipes. Additionally, many other nuclear plants had to be shut down this hot summer due to warm river temperatures and low water levels that could no longer guarantee the plants cooling.If the drought persists, there is a threat of further shutdowns in the coming weeks, incidentally also at coal-fired power plants as they also rely on river cooling water.   

So far, a French blackout has only been prevented with green electricity supplies from Germany. Exchange electricity prices in France have exploded and are considerably higher than in Germany, where they also drive up electricity prices.

It is clear to see that nuclear power is too expensive and does not contribute to energy security. The fact that Macron nevertheless clings to nuclear power instead of finally announcing a 100% renewable energy target by 2030 speaks for his inability to learn from energy policy mistakes. 

EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen   

Just recently, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen flew to Azerbaijan and signed new contracts for natural gas supplies to the EU. However, Azerbaijan can hardly increase natural gas production. Crude oil production has also peaked a long time ago. The resulting increase in unemployment leads to social tensions and is suppressed by the autocratic regime that violates human right on a regular basis. 

The supply of natural gas and oil from Azerbaijan is only possible via the new Turkey and Adriatic Pipeline, which was mainly promoted by German politicians of the conservative parties via the Council of Europe. These politicians have been criticised for receiving corruption money from Azerbaijan, called the “Azerbaijan Connection” by a German news channel. 

In addition, Ursula von der Leyen is responsible for the inclusion of the highly climate-damaging natural gas and the highly dangerous nuclear energy as “green” energies in the EU taxonomy. There is no more obvious way to document the compliant support of the fossil and nuclear economy. Against this backdrop, Ursula von der Leyens recent political activities completely failed in terms of the expansion of renewable energies.   

Ukrainian President Wolodimir Selenski  

The Ukrainian President Wolodomir Selenski plans to export electricity to Europe to generate revenue. However, more than 50% of the electricity in Ukraine comes from nuclear power plants. These are at high risk in Putin’s war right now. Misdicrected rockets as well as targeted attacks during wars can cause a nuclear “super-disaster”. In that case, regions all over Europe would be affected by radioactive contamination. After the latest attacks on the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant in Ukraine, Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, the International Atomic Energy Agency already speaks of a “real risk of a nuclear catastrophe”.  

For that reason, at least in wars, nuclear power plants must be shut down. President Selenski, however, is still sticking to nuclear power production, building up on his announcement to construct new nuclear power plants. Moreover, Ukraine itself buys fuel elements from Russia and thus paradoxically finances Russia’s war of aggression against its own country.  

Selenski’s adherence to the fossil-nuclear energy system is thus also a great danger to the existence of all Europeans. The only way out of this highly dangerous situation is the switch to 100% renewable energies. But so far, Selenski has hardly promoted this transformation.  

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing Wen  

Similarily, the industrial region of Taiwan, another current trouble spot,  is almost completely dependent on fossil and nuclear energy supplies from abroad. An interruption in the supply of raw materials would quickly send the economy into a tailspin.   

This is precisely what is currently being feared after the visit of U.S. Congresswoman Nacy Pelosi. China reacted angrily to what they see as an enormous provocation and has begun to hold a military manoeuvre. There are fears in Taiwan that a blockade of sea and air routes is being prepared.   

Should China actually block the sea and air routes in violation of international law, there would be an enormous energy shortage in Taiwan in a short time and the economy would collapse, with catastrophic consequences for the global economy. Two thirds of the global contract production of semiconductors takes place in Taiwan. Should Taiwan try to prevent this with military means, the nuclear powers USA and China would probably be at war with each other. 

Against this geopolitical backdrop, it becomes painfully apparent, that it was a mistake for President Tsai Ing Wen to not put all efforts into transforming the energy policy towards 100% renewable energies immediately after coming to power and to continue to serve the fossil fuel economy instead.

The Energy Watch Group had already advised the President in this matter, when she was still in opposition. In 2021 the EWG in cooperation with the LUT University in Finland and the Taiwanese Ministry of Energy additionally completed a study on 100% renewable energies in the Taiwanese electricity sector by 2050, that was supported by the Taiwanese President Tsai Ing Wen. Only the suggested rapid switch to 100% domestic renewable energy can solve this dangerous situation for Taiwan in the medium term. Tsai Ing Wen did try to end the dependency on nuclear power, but the powerful nuclear industry in Taiwan had overturned this nuclear phase-out law with a referendum.  

If China continues to block Taiwan, there will probably be no more fuel elements for nuclear power in Taiwan. The situation of Taiwan currently shows the fragility and vulnerability of countries which are dependent on fossil and nuclear energy. Even if China does not block the sea routes this time, there will always hover the “Sword of Damocles” above Taiwan, that this might change.


Scholz, Macron, von der Leyen,  Selenski, Tsai Ing Wen – as different as the challenges that the respective countries are currently facing may be – what unites them all is that they seem to have learned nothing from the current crises. Even though the multidimensional crises of our time – energy price crisis, climate crisis, health crisis, wars – show us more painfully than ever where our nuclear fossil dependency has led us, they are still clinging to the fossil and nuclear energy system instead of clearly focusing all efforts on the expansion of renewable energies. Only with these will we be able to embark on the path to a sustainable and peaceful future. Read our global study to learn how such a 100% clean energy supply can be implemented worldwide in a technically and economically viable way.

New IRENA report confirms: Renewable electricity is significantly cheaper than conventional

This month, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) published a report in which it examined the costs of electricity generation from renewable energy sources in 2021. IRENA concludes once again that renewable energy is by far the cheapest source of electricity compared to conventional energy.

The report shows that the cost of renewable energy in 2021 has further decreased compared to the previous year. Specifically, the average cost of electricity for onshore wind fell by 15% while the cost for photovoltaic and offshore wind fell by 13% each. Furthermore, nearly two-thirds or 163 gigawatts of new renewables commissioned in 2021 had lower costs than the cheapest existing coal-based option in the G20 states.

Overall, the development of the competitiveness of renewables is remarkable. For example, between 2010 and 2021, the average cost of electricity of newly added PV projects fell by 88%, the cost of onshore wind and solar thermal power by 68% each, and of offshore wind by 60%.

Against this background, Francesco La Camera, Director General of IRENA, states:

““Renewables are by far the cheapest form of power today. 2022 is a stark example of just how economically viable new renewable power generation has become. Renewable power frees economies from volatile fossil fuel prices and imports, curbs energy costs and enhances market resilience – even more so if today’s energy crunch continues.”

Also recommended is this interactive infographic from IRENA, which clearly illustrates the evolution of renewable energy competitiveness in the midst of the fossil fuel crisis.


Outlook: Fossil energy costs will continue to exceed renewables in 2022

According to IRENA, conventional energies will still be much more expensive than renewables in 2022. For example, the fuel and CO2 costs for existing gas-fired power plants in 2022 are estimated to be on average four to six times higher than the total operating costs for PV and wind power plants added in 2021.

The fact that renewables are already leading to significant savings is also shown by the fact that in the period January to May 2022, imports of fossil fuels worth at least 50 billion $ were avoided in Europe through the generation of solar and wind energy alone. The global addition of renewables in 2021 will reduce electricity generation costs by at least 55 billion $ in 2022, given the current fossil and nuclear fuel price crisis, according to IRENA.

In view of these clear cost advantages of renewables, it is even more incomprehensible that in Europe in particular the replacement of Russian energy supplies is being sought primarily with new LNG terminals and diversification in the import of oil, natural gas and coal. This strategy, which comes from the old thought patterns that first brought us into this fundamental dependence on Russian energy supplies, will fail again this time: The diversification of fossil energy imports will lead to a further increase in fossil energy prices, due to their scarcity also to new geopolitical tensions, and at the same time this will lead to a further rapid heating of the Earth’s atmosphere.

At the same time, replacing Russian energy supplies with renewables together with energy conservation will reduce energy costs overall, guarantee security of supply, protect the climate and avoid new geopolitical tensions. However, this requires massive acceleration laws for the expansion of solar and wind power, bioenergy, hydropower etc, similar to those similar to the recently enacted laws for LNG terminals in Germany. We finally need those legislative changes that will lead to a fireworks display of the expansion of renewables. Then, in combination with energy savings, we will also able to get through the next winter safely, even if Russian natural gas supplies continue to be halted, and we will also reduce energy costs.

Nuclear disarmament is the key to global security as well as for a sustainable future and the prevention of the climate collapse. For decades, not only the peace movement has therefore been calling for nuclear weapons to be removed from the world.

After the end of the Cold War between East and West around 1990, effective disarmament treaties were indeed concluded between the U.S. and Russia, the two most powerful nuclear powers. But this hopeful process came to an abrupt end many years ago. Nuclear armament not only in Russia and the US, but also in other countries, such as France, Great Britain, China, India and many others has increased massively again. By the way, this is the key driving force of many governments to build new nuclear power plants, because they are the source of nuclear weapons material.

However, now there emerged a remarkable proposal for nuclear disarmament in the context of the Ukraine war, which deserves more attention. Oscar Arias, Ex-President of Costa Rica Nobel Peace Prize laureate, and Jonathan Granoff, President of the Global Security Institute, have suggested that the U.S. should withdraw all U.S. nuclear weapons from Europe and Turkey as a unilateral sign. This could get Putin’s attention to move him to the negotiating table and possibly agree to an end to the war in Ukraine.

This proposal would be a sign of de-escalation on the part of the U.S. in the increasingly hardening Ukraine war. This could effectively move Putin and deprive him of one of his most important propaganda arguments for his merciless aggression. Europe’s conventional defense capability against the aggressor Russia in the Ukraine war would remain fully intact. In this respect, there would be no security risks for Europe.

Unfortunately, this important proposal has not found its way into the international media and is obviously not being discussed in the German government.

The withdrawal of all U.S. nuclear weapons from Europe, and thus also from Germany, is a long-standing demand of the the German Green Party. For that reason the Green Party’s candidate for chancellor and current foreign minister Annalena Baerbock , amongst others, had called for the withdrawal of U.S. nuclear weapons from Germany during the last federal election campaign.

Oscar Arias is a remarkable politician who has made a significant difference in Costa Rica. In Costa Rica, the military budget was largely abolished and invested primarily in education. Ultimately, this also had an impact on Costa Rica’s relatively rapid achievement of its goal of converting its own power supply to 100% renewable energies. Oscar Arias knows how to create peace and climate protection with innovative political ideas. We should learn from him and Foreign Minister Baerbock would do well to adopt this proposal and initiate corresponding talks with the USA, as she already had proposed during her own election campaign. We should seize every opportunity to end the horrific war in Ukraine and implement it politically. The proposal of Oscar Arias has the potential to make a relevant contribution to the de-escalation of this conflict and needs to receive more attention from the international community.

New EWG study: Parts of the German federal government plan to abolish domestic renewable energies amounting up to 50% of Russian energy supplies

Bioenergy and small hydropower are currently under enormous political pressure and partially even threatened in their existence. Yet they already generate energy amounting up to 51% of Russia’s energy supplies and their potential is far from exhausted. This is shown by the latest EWG study published on 29 June 2022.
Biogas plants and small hydropower are thus not only irreplaceable for a renewable energy system, but also for energy independence from Russia. Talked down as “niche technologies” for a long time, the current government draft of the German federal governments “Easter package”, among others, contains further deteriorations of the framework conditions, which are partly tantamount to abolition.
“The study reveals the absurdity of the current debate on the reduction of bioenergy and hydropower. On the one hand, reliable and system-serving domestic renewable energies are to be throttled. On the other hand, the German government is trying very hard to replace Russian energy with fossil energy from other countries with a fossil diversification strategy, thereby accepting new geopolitical distortions and a further overheating of the earth,” says Hans-Josef Fell, President of the Energy Watch Group.
Relevance of bioenergy and hydropower for a renewable energy system
Already today, bioenergy and small hydropower make a significant contribution to the German energy supply. For a sustainable renewable energy system based predominantly on sun and wind, however, they are indispensable
“Due to their reliability even during dark winter periods, bioenergy and small hydropower avoid the costly provision and use of stored energy, e.g. in the form of green hydrogen, and reduce the need to expand the grid. In the transition to a sustainable energy system, these technologies therefore have a cost-reducing effect. Our study shows that the currently discussed abandonment of small hydropower of up to 1000 kW installed capacity alone would mean a loss of up to 2.8 billion euros annually,” says Dr. Thure Traber, author of the model calculations of the study.
No energy independence from Russia without “small renewables”
The study shows that the reduction of the use of bioenergy and small hydropower planned by the German traffic light coalition would make the necessary independence from Russian energy supplies much more difficult, if not impossible. A further massive increase in energy prices would be the consequence. Instead of the current discussions about banning these technologies – fuelled particularly by nature conservation associations – we finally need suitable political framework conditions for their nature-friendly expansion.
Download the study (in German) here.

Against the backdrop of the war in Ukraine, the rising energy prices and the rapidly progressing climate crisis, the Green Party (Alliance90/The Greens) in the German federal state of Brandenburg passed a groundbreaking resolution at their party conference on March 27, 2022. For the first time ever, a party with governmental responsibility decides to aim for 100% renewable energies by 2030.

In this decision-making process the EWG study “100 % renewable energies for Berlin-Brandenburg by 2030”, published in December 2021, played a key role as it showed that Brandenburg can implement a transition to 100% renewable energy  at competitive costs. The study shows that a complete transition to 100% renewables in less than ten years is highly ambitious for the region, but feasible without jeopardizing security of supply.

In addition, our study was able to prove that a full supply with domestic renewable energies is much more cost-effective than today’s fossil and nuclear energy system. The dramatically increasing prices of conventional energies underpin this economic advantage.

On this scientific basis, the Greens with yesterday’s resolution now aim for a provision of all energy for electricity, heat, transportation and industry entirely from 100% renewable energy sources within less than ten years. As they are part of the Brandenburg government, there is a real chance that this resolution turns into a government program.

The federal state of Brandenburg is particularly affected by the disastrous consequences of the climate crisis, especially by long-lasting dry periods including problems like water shortage or forest dieback. Renewable energies play an outstanding role in combating climate change as the conversion to 100% renewable energies reduces greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 60%.

In addition to the escalating climate crisis, the war in Ukraine and the resulting debate on an immediate boycott of Russian energy supplies reinforces the urgency of a massive acceleration of the expansion of renewable energies. At the same time, only the rapid expansion of renewable energies will lead to energy prices that are socially acceptable and support the economy in the long term.

It is a great success that our study was able to provide the scientific basis for this progressive and groundbreaking resolution of the Brandenburg Greens. Now it remains to be hoped that this ambitious goal will become enshrined in Brandenburg’s energy strategyand that other state governments will follow suit.

The resolution on 100% renewable energies by 2030 by Alliance90/The Greens Brandenburg can be found here.

The full EWG study (German) well as an English summary can be found here

Today, the Energy Watch Group published a statement on the currently ongoing revision of the Swiss Energy Act and the Electricity Supply Act.

The result: The draft presented by Switzerland’s Federal Council is neither compatible with the Paris Climate Agreement, nor does it enable the long overdue nuclear phase-out or energy independence from from autocratic states such as Russia.

The Federal Council’s current draft’s goal of a climate-neutral Switzerland by 2050 is inadequate – not only in terms of compliance with the 1.5°C limit agreed on in Paris, but even for limiting global warming to 2°C. Moreover, the war in Ukraine illustrates that additionally the European dependence on the fossil-nuclear energy system is untenable due to its security risks.

In order to ensure Paris compatibility and to end the untenable dependence on the fossil-nuclear energy system, the target must be adjusted towards 100% renewables for all energy sectors by 2030.

Read the full policy paper (in German) here.

New article by Hans-Josef Fell for Energy Post:

A massive expansion of domestic renewable energy stops wars, not just climate change.

A massive expansion of domestic renewable energy generation over the last decade would not only have saved the planet from a future climate catastrophe, it would be stopping wars today Firstly, 70% of Russia’s state revenues come from oil, natural gas, coal and nuclear energy dealsState revenues fund its military. Secondly, an EU dependent on imports from any geopolitical adversary will always struggle to impose sanctions on it. Fell explains that if the EU cuts energy imports from Russia it cannot easily get supplies from elsewhere, leading to a further increase in prices, more inflation, economic hardship and therefore political consequences at home. Reversing dependence on imports will take time, and Europe is now paying for the lack of foresight, says Fell. Yet wind and solar prices have been dropping for a decade, are now at record lows and are still getting cheaper. Studies for “100% renewables” have been available for a long time. So nations should start implementing them.

Import dependence is a security risk

For decades, there have been warnings about how the strong energy import dependence of industrialised nations like Germany in the fossil and nuclear sectors poses a major security risk. Today, we see a massive increase in these geopolitical distortions and the threat to peace in Europe as a result of strong energy dependencies.

Indeed, the lack of a shift to domestic renewable energy, especially in the last decade under Angela Merkel’s chancellorship, was one of the main reasons why Germany and the EU did not have sufficient political means to counter the Russian deployment of more than 130,000 Russian troops on the Ukrainian border. One of the reasons why Russia’s military attack on Ukraine, which is against international law, could not be prevented is due to the fact that Russia is in a very powerful position because of the EU’s immense energy dependenceIt is now taking advantage of the fact that the EU and Germany, under pressure from the gas and oil lobby, have continued to rely on fossil fuels instead of domestic renewable energies over the past decade.

The EU’s massive dependence on energy raw material supplies from Russia has led to great political powerlessness in the conflict over Ukraine. The recognition of the Independence of Donetsk and Luhansk as independent could not be prevented by the West, because the West kept buying energy from Russia, even during these last six months with significantly higher revenues for Russia’s war chest. About 70% of Russia’s state revenues come from energy deals with oil, natural gas, coal and nuclear fuel.

Russia’s riches are based on the revenues from oil, gas and coal

Russia has thus been able to accumulate considerable wealth with the revenues from oil, gas, coal and nuclear fuel, which allowed Russia’s massive armament in the first place. At the same time, the EU’s energy dependence has led it to believe that it cannot do without Russian energy supplies. In order to secure energy supplies, the EU could not quickly announce, let alone carry out, threats of sanctions. It is certainly no coincidence that the escalation of violence against the Ukraine comes at the very moment when the EU economy is already in a massive crisis due to high fossil fuel prices.

Not certifying Nord Stream 2 is a long overdue step

In response to Russia’s recognition of the regions of eastern Ukraine, the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and the German government announced sanctions. They had remained very nebulous the weeks before, which led to fear that these sanctions would remain as weak and ineffective as the EU and US sanctions after the occupation of Crimea. With Russia’s attack, we do see now that Russia hardly takes these sanctions seriously either.

Chancellor Scholz’s announcement to not certify the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline is a long overdue step. This shows that t his fossil gas policy, which was enforced recently in the coalition agreement, was wrong from the very beginning and disregarded its inherent geopolitical dangers.

President Putin knows very well that the EU has its back to the wall

President Putin is very well aware of the fact that Germany and the EU cannot significantly endanger Russia’s crucial state revenues in the short term or even in the medium term. A ban on imports of Russian gas, oil, hard coal and nuclear fuel elements would lead to an economic burden for the EU that goes far beyond today’s energy price increase.

A collapse of the economy due to missing or expensive energy raw materials, uprisings of the population due to cold flats and missing fuel for cars and trucks, food shortages and raising prices for food due to missing or expensive fertilisers, pesticides and transport energy would soon be the consequence.

Strong increases in the prices of natural gas (+60%), oil (+43%) and hard coal (+180%)

With an oil price of just under 100 US dollars per barrel, even today 23% of German companies already classify the current energy prices as threatening to their existence, 65% speak of a “strong challenge”.

Many media as well as companies still see taxes and levies as the main cause of the increase in energy prices. However, the sharp increases in the prices of natural gas (+60%), crude oil (+43%) and hard coal (+180%) since mid-2021 are the main cause for this development, as they are driving up energy prices despite the sharp drop in solar and wind energy costs.

Oil & Gas lobby

Most of these companies, that are now under massive pressure, from BASF to OMV or other natural gas companies, share a large part of the blame and are responsible for their own plight. It was these companies, who lobbied against the expansion of renewable energies for decades. They hindered political support for renewable energies and failed to create sufficient renewable energy investments in their own companies. All warnings that this could lead to a dire dependence with rapid price increases were ignored so that they are now facing the shambles of their own actions.

Further price increases are to be expected

The rise in commodity prices has many causes, ranging from speculation to the current geopolitical tensions, wars, accidents and terrorist attacks. It is especially the decline in production of fossil raw materials in important producing regions, especially OPEC, that causes this development. Overall, the production of fossil raw materials, especially oil, is increasingly unable to meet demand. Further price increases are to be expected. The day Russia attacked Ukraine, the price of oil jumped above the 100 US $ per barrel mark.

The energy importing countries are now feverishly seeking diversification from Russian energy supplies. However, this will not lead to an increase in the total production. Shortages in the market will continue to increase and with them commodity prices will as well. The shortages have driven up energy prices in all sectors: power generation, transport, heating, industry. The unexpected outage of one third of the French nuclear power plants has put additional pressure on electricity prices in the EU, showing that nuclear energy cannot contribute to lowering electricity prices either.

The EU is stuck in a dilemma that cannot be resolved in the short term

The EU hence is stuck in a dilemma that will not be solvable in the short term. Finding effective sanctions that seriously affect Russia do not seem to be working. However, the EU is not able to impose strong sanctions in the one and only sector of the Russian economy that is seriously vulnerable, the energy sector, as this would lead to the greatest economic hardship and to popular uprisings due to the heavy dependence on energy – as the recent survey on the existential fears of businesses mentioned above shows.

Thus, the EU cannot adopt sanctions that would seriously affect the Russian state and it is not surprising that all the EU rhetoric of “effectively and severely burdening the Russian economy” hasn’t been taken very seriously in Russia.

Berlin cannot approve an embargo

The Ukrainian Ambassador to Germany, Andriy Melnyk, had made one thing clear a few days ago: among other things, he demanded an embargo by Germany and the EU on Russian gas, oil and coal exports, as well as the end of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. As a matter of principle, he is right with these demands as this is the only way to seriously hit Russia’s economic power.

However, it is obvious that this will not be taken up by the government in Berlin: it cannot, because the consequence would be the collapse of the German economy. In the short time required, the missing energy supply from Russia cannot be replaced by alternative energy suppliers – nor will this be possible in the future because of the shortage tendencies on the world markets.

Russian energy supplies to the EU cannot be replaced in the short or medium term

Who is to replace the large Russian energy supplies to the EU in the short or medium term? The few supplier countries under discussion, such as the USA, Australia, Central Asia, North Africa or the Middle East, will not be able to organize the replacement in a few years and certainly not next winter. In addition, many of these countries are governed by unjust regimes, which foreshadows the next geopolitical upheavals.

Fossil energy prices, which have risen considerably in recent months, are the result of a shortage of fossil energy on the world market. Demand exceeds supply. So where would the missing quantities of oil, natural gas and coal in the EU come from, for an energy embargo against Russia, if they are currently already insufficient to cover global fossil energy demand?

Russia can sit back

Should the EU nevertheless impose an embargo, it would be cutting its own throat. Russia could sit back, wait for the economic collapses and popular uprisings in the EU and then dictate its terms for renewed energy supplies.

After all, Russia has amassed a financial reserve worth hundreds of billions with the revenues from energy sales. The reverse scenario is that even now at war, Russia could ignore contractual supply obligations and turn off the oil and gas taps on its own authority. The powerlessness of the EU would then come to light very quickly.

Previous expansion of renewable energies far too weak

Germany’s and the EU’s self-created dependence is a result of the extremely weak expansion of renewable energies. Solar radiation and wind do not have to be imported, neither from Russia nor from other countries.

A steep expansion of renewable energies in the last decade could have led the EU out of its dependence and powerlessness towards supplier countries like Russia. This is exactly what the G7 energy ministers demanded after the occupation of Crimea, precisely in order to achieve more energy independence from Russia. It has not happened. On the contrary, the annual expansion of renewable energies in Germany and the EU – politically decreed, for example, with the amendments to the Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG) – has further collapsed. This is precisely what led to the EU’s current geopolitical powerlessness in the face of Russia’s military threats against Ukraine.

Ukraine is dependent on Russia’s energy supplies as well

Besides, the Ukrainian ambassador’s brisk demand for an energy embargo must also be seen in the light of his country’s own impotence. Ukraine still obtains large amounts of energy from Russia: electricity via the interconnection with Russia and Belarus, oil and coal as well as most of the fuel elements for the Ukrainian nuclear reactors.

To receive transit fees, Ukraine still insists on the transit of Russian natural gas to the EU and overlooks the fact that in doing so, it finances the Russian state budget and therefore the military threats against its own country. It is significant that the Ukrainian ambassador called for the end of Nord Stream 2, but not for the end of the transit of Russian natural gas on Ukrainian soil.

Share of renewable energies in Ukrainian energy supply well below 10%

For more than a decade, I have been pointing out in ministerial talks and hearings in the Ukrainian parliament in Kiev that as long as Ukraine keeps on buying large amounts of energy from Russia, it is completely powerless politically in the face of Russian aggression.

A steep expansion of renewable energies in Ukraine within the last decade would have been the right strategy to gain political independence from Russia. However, this hasn’t happened and the share of renewable energies in Ukraine’s energy supply is still well below 10%. The Ukrainian impotence towards Russia is therefore also partly self-inflicted.

For more than a decade, there have been ongoing warnings of geopolitical upheavals and even wars as a result of fossil energy dependence as well as calls for a rapid switch to domestic renewable energies.

In my Bundestag speech on February 11, 2011, on the EU energy summit, I stated: “The black-yellow German government failed to initiate the urgently needed transformation process towards a full supply of renewable energies while exploiting the large potential of energy savings. Europe is in danger of becoming more than 70% dependent on energy raw material imports from increasingly insecure supply countries. Instead of finally focusing on the development of the inexhaustible and free domestic energy resources from solar radiation, wind, hydropower, and geothermal energy, the EU summit is focusing on increasing import dependency from politically unstable supplier countries with new pipelines and terminals.”

The German Armed Forces also warned against dependence

The Transformation Centre of the German Armed Forces had also strongly warned of the serious security threats associated with a shortage of energy resources in its 2010 Peak Oil Study:

P. 17: “Oil-importing states are forced to be more pragmatic in their foreign policy towards oil suppliers and must subordinate normative aspects to the primacy of security of supply. On the part of the oil-producing states, a political instrumentalization of their power position and a corresponding formation of alliances along ideological lines of conflict is quite plausible.”

p. 25: “In addition, bilateral supply ties for gas could more easily turn into effective politically dependency relationships that override traditional political orientations or integration into alliances”.

p. 26: “Above all, an expansion of nuclear energy, however, exacerbates the problem of proliferation.”

These warnings of the of the German Armed Forces Transformation Centre from 2010 speak for themselves, but have nonetheless always been thrown to the wind.

Goal: establishment of a domestic energy supply in the EU and Ukraine, 100% from renewable energies

After the hopefully imminent end of the war, the clear realization of global politics must be to build a domestic energy supply in every country, especially in the EU and the Ukraine based on 100% renewable energies. This would deprive Russia of the revenues, which have been flowing into Russian high armament, and would make the political decisions of the EU and Ukraine more independent, since a collapse of the economy due to rising energy prices and energy shortages would no longer have to be feared.

Quite the contrary: renewable energies are now the most cost-effective way of generating energy, even as a reliable energy source with a mix of 100% renewables and storage technologies. Scientific studies, which show that the transformation to a full energy supply with renewables is not only possible within a decade, but would even be much cheaper than the fossil nuclear energy system, have been available for many years.

This geopolitical liberation strategy, which can be realized in the medium term, would simultaneously care for climate protection and reduce the long list of economic and social burdens caused by fossil fuel price increases, including increasing droughts, food shortages, heavy rains, storms, rising sea levels and other catastrophes. On the other hand, these catastrophes caused by global warming will lead to additional geopolitical distortions, which are likely to cause warlike tensions or wars in other places, as it is currently the case in the Ukraine.

Source: https://energypost.eu/a-massive-expansion-of-domestic-renewable-energy-stops-wars-not-just-climate-change/

Although the opponents of renewable energies are strongly in the minority, the public debate is very much dominated by their arguments. Thus, 83% of German citizens support the further expansion of renewable energies. 51% of the respondents consider wind power “very good” or “rather good” even in the neighborhood. The public acceptance for renewable energies is thus significantly higher than the public image suggests: according to this, a large part of the population is against wind power in their own neighborhood. One of the main arguments of the opponents of wind power is the fear of the alleged disfigurement of the landscape, which will increase considerably with an expansion of wind power with very many new wind turbines. There is a widespread belief that a full supply of 100% renewable energy would result in a landscape filled with wind turbines.

To counter these diffuse fears, the Energy Watch Group has made a rough estimate of how many onshore wind turbines would be needed if Germany’s entire energy supply for electricity, heat, transport and industry were to be provided year-round at every hour of the year solely from renewables by 2030.

Read the full short analysis in German here.

New policy paper by the Energy Watch Group (EWG) and the Network Flexperten finds:  Expansion of biogas storage power plants is indispensable for 100% Renewable Energy

In collaboration with the Network Flexperten we published our first policy paper of the year: “Securing the energy transition with local storage power plants and sustainable biomass for structural change and climate protection in agriculture”. The paper states that biogas has the potential to contribute to the energy transition with up to 30 GW peak power quickly, sustainably and cost-effectively.

Key findings are: 

  • Biogas can support the energy transition on a larger scale than today and replace fossil
    power plants and (expensive) natural gas
  • Flexible, decentralized storage power plants lower energy prices, secure energy supply and support the heat transition
  • Biogas production can secure income in rural areas and has the potential to replace value creation from livestock farming
  • The systematic shift of decomposition processes to fermenters reduces GHG emissions from agriculture
  • Cultivation and use of wild plant crops and permanent pastures ensures carbon capture and humus build-up
“Today, biogas is vastly derived from planted crop, associated with the food-or-fuel dilemma. But biodegradation is part of every natural circular flow. Using existing residual materials from agriculture for biogas digesters instead, we avoid dangerous GHG emissions, we preserve the organic matter as a natural fertiliser and we gain a huge energy resource: renewable methane”, underlines Uwe Welteke-Fabricius, one of the authors of the study.       

Political implications 

Hans-Josef Fell, EWG-president and second author of the paper emphasizes: “It is often claimed that since solar, wind and storage will provide the lion’s share of a future energy supply with 100% renewables, there is little need to care about the “niche technologies” such as bioenergy, hydropower or geothermal energy. This perception is wrong and jeopardizes the goal of achieving 100% renewable energy in all sectors by 2030. Bioenergy as well as hydropower or geothermal energy aren’t just niche technologies, but will and have to contribute substantially to a functioning 100% renewable energy supply. Their strengths lie in their storage capacity, their flexibility and the resulting year-round availability”.

In order for existing and newly built biogas plants to be able to develop their potential for climate and species protection and a secure energy supply in Germany, it is extremely important that the traffic light coalition now sets the right course with the upcoming amendment of the EEG.

Read our concrete policy recommendations and the full paper (in German) here:

Details & Webinar-Link: http://ewg-restore-duhz34gqyp.hans-josef-fell.de/wps/100-erneuerbare-energien-fur-berlin-brandenburg/