Renewables have stalled out in California and Germany :: UK announces it will frack for natural gas :: South Korea cuts renewables to fund nuclear
The global energy crisis appears to have strengthened the resolve of Western political leaders to not just continue but accelerate the transition toward green energy. Last month, U.S. President Joe Biden signed legislation that aims to spend $370 billion on wind, solar, electric cars and other forms of green tech. California legislators and regulators recently decided to spend $54 billion on clean tech, restrict oil and gas drilling, and ban the sale of internal combustion cars by 2035. And the President of the European Commission affirmed yesterday the European Union’s “massive investments in renewables” because “they are cheap, they are home-grown, they make us independent.”
But appearances can be deceiving. In truth, the energy crisis is rapidly exposing the limits of renewables and the need for fossil fuels. Recognizing the political threat of high gasoline prices, Biden has released so much petroleum from the public’s Strategic Petroleum Reserves that they are at their lowest level in nearly 30 years. Six days after California regulators banned the sale of internal combustion engines, the state’s grid operator urged residents to not charge their electric vehicles from 4 pm to 9 pm for fear of blackouts. And European governments will spend over $50 billion this winter on new and refurbished coal and natural gas supplies and equipment.
Officially, governments and corporations are still moving ahead with big investments in renewables and electric vehicles (EVs). Globally, solar installations in 2022 will rise at their fastest pace in nearly a decade. Toyota and Honda announced they would spend $2.5 billion and $4.4 billion, respectively, on EV battery manufacturing in the U.S., Piedmont Lithium said it would build a plant to process lithium for EVs. in Tennessee, and First Solar announced $1.2 billion for a new U.S. solar panel factory. California will spend $6.1 billion on EVs. And Europe has not pulled back from the $210 billion in new money it promised to invest, mostly in renewables, over the next five years.