Because of the unrest in the Ukraine and the Middle East the past year, Europe has become acutely aware of its energy dependency. Brussels presented a new European Commissioner for Energy Union, but real collaboration is still a long way off.
A lower energy bill and more effective investments is what has been promised to the European citizens the past twenty years. The liberalisation and privatisation of energy companies would prepare Europe for the future. But instead, possible power shortages in Belgium might leave citizens in the dark, while in the Netherlands expensive power stations are shut down because of a surplus. All across the continent the energy bills have risen; only the heavy industry enjoys special prices.
De Onderzoeksredactie investigated hundreds of documents, talked with European civil servants, politicians and energy industry heavyweights. The journalists who did the investigation were Belia Heilbron, Jelmer Mommers, Thomas Muntz and Huib de Zeeuw.
Now that increasing numbers of citizens and energy cooperations are installing solar panels and building windmills, the profits of established energy companies are under pressure. Companies such as the German RWE, E.ON and Vattenfall have joined forces to ask for payments for their fossil-fuel power station. A more fundamental question in the background is whether a power supply can be maintained of which an ever-larger share of sustainable energy is unstable.
National governments are drawing their conclusions and dismantling the European energy market. To prevent a black-out, Great-Britain is having a new nuclear plant built. London has promised to pay the owner of the plant double the current energy price for 35 years to come. The British citizens are paying for the country’s failed free energy market policy.
(Photo © maol)
(Photos authors © Flip Franssen)