Europe is shutting down on all fronts. A rabid fixation on Russian president Vladimir Putin and unhinged fear of climate change have set the stage for self-inflicted deindustrialization, hunger, and cold.
My own country, the Netherlands, is a sad example. We own the largest gas field in Europe, Groningen, but a few years ago began winding down production. Gas extraction had caused minor earthquakes that damaged a few homes. Instead of using gas profits to pay for repairs, the government decided to make the Netherlands “climate friendly.”
Now the Dutch heat, cook, and drive using electricity mainly from solar panels, wind turbines, and imported “biomass” (e.g., wood pellets). The state-owned infrastructure operator, Gasunie, is retrofitting the gas network as an experimental hydrogen pipeline at a cost of 1.5 billion euros, though British nonprofit Global Witness reports that using hydrogen could double utility bills in Europe. To connect this green energy, a much bigger grid is required. Never mind that a similar transition in Germany is a widely touted failure. It’s part of the country’s “Green Deal,” which critics estimate will cost one trillion euros. Meanwhile, anti-nuclear forces stifle nuclear power, while a recently shuttered coal plant in Amsterdam is reopened to back up unreliable “renewables.”
Closing Groningen has increased scarcity in the Netherlands, so energy bills are skyrocketing. (My own tripled during 2021.) Adding to costs are construction and installation of thousands of wind turbines and solar panels, as well as maintenance of fossil fuel plants that provide backup when the sun is not shining or the wind blowing. On the other hand, when there is too much sun or wind, producers are paid to stop producing, courtesy of taxpayers/consumers.
Ironically, Germany continues to receive Dutch gas from fields that still operate and is forced to use gas as well as coal since closing its (carbon-free) nuclear plants. Money the Netherlands makes exporting gas is spent to build more wind turbines and solar panels.
The Dutch government recently allocated 150 million euros to prevent struggling customers’ utilities from being cut off. It’s a paltry amount, but that is because this energy poverty is intentional. We must use less energy because the planet supposedly can no longer handle our greed.
Dutch finance minister Sigrid Kaag talked of preparing for a “bit poorer future” and announced in September 2022 a price cap on energy, provided use does not exceed arbitrary limits. At the same time, European Union (EU) ministers met in Brussels to discuss how to reduce energy consumption, with European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen suggesting mandatory electricity rationing at peak hours.
Another Dutchman, Diederik Samsom, who runs the European Green Deal from Brussels, makes even wilder assertions. “The two basic needs of life — food and energy — we have paid way too little for that in the last 40 years,” he complained in an April 2022 interview with European think tank Bruegel. Meanwhile the Netherlands’ tax on airline tickets has tripled, pushed through Parliament in March with the help of Kaag, who admitted the tax is intended to make flying “relatively less attractive.”