Europe’s power crisis was just a matter of time – and that time has come. Natural gas and electricity prices are setting record highs virtually every day, and businesses and households have gone from getting annoyed to being terrified as the bills land like hand grenades.
The continent’s power system was an accident waiting to happen, in good part because its purported virtues – vast amounts of climate-friendly renewable energy and waning numbers of climate-unfriendly coal-fired plants – were less robust than advertised.
Of course, other factors conspired to jack up prices at an alarming rate, notably alleged manipulation of the gas markets by Vladimir Putin’s Russia. But the wind not blowing when it was supposed to was certainly a big part of the problem.
Europe, including the United Kingdom, normally has a pretty sturdy power system, with ample interconnection between countries, allowing power buyers to shop around for the best prices. At the same time, there seemed to be ample diversification of electricity-generation methods – nuclear, coal, gas, wind, solar, hydro, biomass.