- Europe’s hydro and nuclear output is declining, leading to mopre energy troubles.
- Renewables are struggling to fill the gap as wind and solar output increase.
- The EU may require increased LNG imports from the US to meet energy demands.
Last year, Europe was on the brink of an energy breakdown as Russian gas flows dried up and most of Europe doubled down on renewable energy.
The renewable energy bet paid off, in a way. Solar and wind electricity generation in Europe hit a record in 2022. In fact, for the first time in history, wind and solar together produced more electricity than natural gas-fired power plants.
There was just one problem with that. Lower hydro and nuclear output more than wiped out the significance of that record output.
Droughts were severe in Europe last year. They threatened major trade routes such as the Rhein in Germany and the Po in Italy. And they also caused severe declines in hydropower electricity output. For example, in Spain, hydropower output dropped by almost half because of the droughts. All this might repeat this year as well.
Meanwhile, nuclear wasn’t doing so swell, either. France suddenly found that years of underinvestment in maintenance would have consequences: emergency reactor shutdowns for repairs and maintenance.
The problems cost EDF a massive annual loss of $19 billion as half of its reactors had to be shut down for maintenance. Most blamed the pandemic, but nuclear experts such as Mark Nelson saw the roots of the problem much further into the past when France decided to bet on renewables over nuclear.
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