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European electricity grid hurtling towards disaster, Swiss commodities expert warns

A new paper from the Global Warming Policy Foundation shows that the European electricity grid is hurtling towards disaster, with its constituent nations closing reliable nuclear and fossil-fuelled power stations and hoping that interconnectors will make up the deficit.

According to the paper’s author, Alexander Stahel, a Swiss-based commodities expert, the European grid has relied on French and German power surpluses for many years. However, with nuclear power in both countries being wound down and likely to soon become net power importers, and with fierce international competition for scarce gas supplies, the whole continent is now left hoping for Scandinavian hydro power and occasional surpluses of UK wind to save them. 

According to Stahel, the numbers just don’t add up, and he warns that restrictions on fossil fuel investment are making things dramatically worse.

“Fossil fuels are currently vital for keeping the lights on, but we are undermining the industry’s viability. It needs US$300 billion of re-investment every year, for oil and gas alone, just to maintain current production levels. However, convinced by policymakers that investments in production will become ‘stranded’, it is not even investing half this amount.”

Stahel says that Europe must simply accept that its decarbonisation targets are not achievable.

Alexander Stahel: “The Crisis of the European Energy System” (pdf)

European energy system report cover