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Germany’s Energy Fiasco

In both the short and the long term, Germany will be unable to end Russian gas imports without triggering economic chaos, public outrage, and opposition from many firms. For this, years of misguided energy strategy must bear much of the blame.

MUNICH – Germany long regarded its energy transition as cutting edge, compared to other Western industrialized countries. Policymakers expected that the country would be able to secure its energy supply entirely from renewable sources, so they resolved to phase out coal and nuclear energy simultaneously. The last three of Germany’s 17 nuclear power plants are set to be shut down this year.

Green politicians in Germany always hoped that other countries would emulate this energy agenda once they saw how well it was working. But, in light of the war in Ukraine, the world is instead witnessing how Germany’s approach has created a policy disaster.

To cushion the twin phaseout of coal and nuclear, and to close supply gaps during the long transition to renewable energy, Germany decided to build a large number of additional gas-fired power plants. Even immediately before Russian forces invaded Ukraine, policymakers assumed that the gas for these facilities would always come from Russia, which supplied more than half of Germany’s needs.