On Thursday, June 2, Prague got a good glimpse of existence without energy after a blackout lasting less than an hour hit the capital city. The situation reminded many people that with the current European energy policy, the question is not whether there will be a blackout but rather when it will come, writes Markéta Šichtařová for the Echo24 daily.
We know that renewable energy sources are less stable than conventional sources. It is still impossible to fully replace a unit of power from an old source of energy with the same unit of power from a renewable source. However, Europe is switching off old sources faster than installing new capacities. Also, there is a lack of classic energy resources, not only because of political reasons and the green agenda but also due to the war. Furthermore, Czechia’s electrical transmission system is not designed for such a sharp increase in renewables.
In the event of a longer outage, we cannot test what will not work — when the backup batteries in many devices run out, more than just electricity will stop working. We will be unable to refuel, and if you have a private generator, you will not be able to get fuel into it. The mobile phone network will fail, and Czechs will not be able to call anyone, even if they managed to charge their phones. Both credit cards and ATMs will stop working, so no shopping, and of course, the internet will also not function.
Cigarettes and condoms become Czechia’s currency
There are some minimal precautions you can take for such a scenario: Have some extra cash on hand, a supply of food that does not need to be cooked, a lighter, and a full canister of gas. Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, we have even seen a trend develop where people are preparing currency substitutes in the form of tiny gold bars. When asked about what is fueling such demand, they answer that they do not trust any fiat currency and want to have something to pay “for bread.” It is a somewhat naïve idea, considering that in the case of a real blackout, no bakery will have the capacity to even bake bread.
However, previous catastrophic, extreme and unlikely scenarios provide a road map for the future. We know what happened, for example, during the bombing of Serbia or the economic crisis in Venezuela. In the first case, there was a disruption of the infrastructure, and in the second, we saw a collapse of the fiat currency. If you guessed that gold or cash dollars work great in such situations, you are right, but only partially. You can use both on the black market that will immediately emerge. The problem is that real physical shortages of dollars and gold eventually develop within these chaotic economies, and in the end, cigarettes and condoms become the most utilized forms of currency.