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Michael, we simply can’t ditch hydrocarbons yet. The transition to renewables has been left too late.
Natural gas is the best stop-gap, because (1) a lot of the energy comes from methane’s four hydrogen atoms rather than its one carbon atom, and (2) gas power stations can be started and stopped within hours – they can “follow demand”, and thus fill in when the wind stops blowing. Conversely, coal power stations take days to reach full efficiency, and a lot of heat is wasted when they shut down. Same goes for nuclear, as it goes; it just responds too slowly.
But Europe failed to ensure a reliable supply of gas. A better contract with Russia is needed, and more storage. Large storage facilities can be made from depleted gas fields, of which Europe has plenty – I don’t know how many of them are geologically suitable, but I expect enough of them are. This is all lack of planning and under-investment; the neoliberal dogma of “governments shouldn’t interfere – leave it to the market”. Doing essential things that markets don’t do is the purpose of governments, I’d say. A neoliberal government is like a chocolate teapot.
The longer-term, zero-carbon solution is continent-scale super electricity grids. The wind never stops everywhere at once.