A Balanced EU Energy Mix
The energy mix in Europe has been severely impacted by the earthquake in Japan and the aftermath in Fukushima as well as the cool reception that the plan to roll out CCS has received in many EU countries. The question is what is the short to medium term solution for a majority of EU countries if they reject nuclear power and new coal fired fossil fuel power plants en masse?
Renewables, especially solar and wind power, are still years away from full maturity and the grid infrastructure, to enable the seamless integration of these energy out puts, is still lacking. While the nuclear debate is understandable post Fukushima, nuclear power in most of Western Europe has witnessed few if any serious setbacks in the past 30 years. Also the threat of earthquakes and natural disasters in the EU is negligible compared to a country like Japan. A more balanced and thought through approach would therefore be advisable rather than the seemingly knee jerk reactions in countries such as Germany and Italy.
Regarding CCS it is still a relatively new technology which requires years of R&D and pilot projects before it can be rolled out on a full scale. However the current carbon price as well low support amongst both the public and political diaspora has severely stunted its future growth potential. In Germany the Federal Parliament's un-willingness to pass the German CCS law has left CCS deployment in limbo and makes the future of coal fired power plants very uncertain.
While renewables and clean technologies are of course the preferred long term energy path for most rational human beings, in the short to medium term nuclear and coal fired power plants will be necessary to keep the households and industries in the EU churning. Any attempts to phase out these technologies too fast will only place the EU’s energy security at risk and put many countries energy supplies firmly at the mercy of the whims of the Russian government and its ruthless oligarchs.