For those dreaming of wind and solar energy powering the future, natural gas could be a nightmare — especially in Europe. Yesterday, the New York Times writes:

“Energy companies across Europe are probing the ground for natural gas trapped in shale rock, hoping to replicate an American boom that has given consumers in the United States a major new supply of affordable fuel.”

Home-grown natural gas production could be a real boon for Europe. Europe natural gas production has declined and most new natural gas has been coming from Russia or the Middle East, causing some to worry about a new natural gas cartel with the potential to exert even more power than OPEC. But new natural gas production in Europe would help alleviate those concerns and make Europe more energy secure.

Not only could Europe benefit large home-grown energy sources, but according to a recent report from the consulting firm McKinsey, the EU could meet their carbon targets more cheaply with gas than renewables:

Europe could save €900bn [$1.2 trillion] and still hit its 2050 carbon reduction targets if it built fewer wind farms and more gas plants, a coalition of gas producers including Gazprom, Centrica and Qatar Petroleum has told the European commission.

Just a few years ago, experts did not foresee the great expansion of natural gas production new technologies have created. These developments with natural gas demonstrate the inability of central energy planners to understand future energy discoveries. Because the government cannot know what the future of energy holds, it is far better to let private investors and consumers figure out what works through the market, rather than trying guess what future energy technologies will be. Natural gas production looks great today, but we don’t know if there is something even better just down the road.

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