European economic power house Germany is considering the pursuit of “fracking,” the drilling technique to extract natural gas from shale, because rising energy costs are causing energy-intensive industries to flinch from investing in Germany and threatening the economy.
Although some Germans are concerned about the side effects of “fracking” wreaking havoc with water supplies, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government is still interested, offering to ban the practice near water supplies, national parks and conservation areas.
Germany abandoned pursuit of nuclear power in 2011 and shifted toward renewable energy sources, but the electricity prices involved in pursuing those energy sources have risen to the point that they threaten the country’s economic stability. Those prices have skyrocketed 40% in the past five years. Michael Hüther, the director of the Cologne Institute for Economic Research, said, “We have reached the pain threshold. We are beginning to observe a creeping disinvestment.”
Germany is due to close six nuclear power stations by 2020; many coal-fired power plants will be lost due to their age. The substitute of domestic natural gas from “fracking” could save the country’s economic future. Already, Poland and Ukraine, which have large shale deposits, are considering the process.
Germany’s shale-gas deposits are dwarfed by what the U.S. possesses, but experts contend that Germany’s could supply Germany with gas for 50 years. Merkel hasn’t committed to the process just yet. Miranda Schreurs, director of the Berlin-based Environmental Policy Research Center, said, “The compromise here is to allow for pilot projects to do testing. The government is trying to keep the door open for fracking to be able to say that if they do it, it will be safe.”
Indeed, there was an internal battle between the environment minister, who was against it, and the economy minister, who favored it.