Frans Timermans. Photo: Thierry Monasse / Bloomberg
Natural gas prices in Europe are breaking record after record. Britain is facing a shortage of energy supplies, evoking memories of discontent since the late 1970s. Chinese factories are closing due to lack of electricity, and the prospects are getting gloomier, writes Irina Slav in a comment for Oilprice.
When gas prices in European markets began to rise faster last month as the continent prepared for winter, countries realized they were not the only ones for their suppliers, and suddenly this resource became extremely important.
This comes after the European Commission excluded natural gas from the list of eligible low-carbon energy sources, with the Vice-President of the European Union’s (EU) Climate Change Executive, Frans Timmermans, stressing that “blue fuel” has no place in the transition.
It now appears that Timmermans and his colleagues in Brussels have made a big mistake.
For years, Europe has been trying to close the page on coal-fired power plants and building solar and wind farms as it seeks to become the greenest continent globally and lead the energy transition by claiming that carbon dioxide emissions are the biggest problem. the planet because they lead to adverse climate change. This is combined with a decline in investment in oil and gas production.
The EU is now facing the first bill for its low-carbon fest.
“It can get very ugly unless we act quickly to try to fill every inch of the gas storage,” Marco Alvera, chief executive of Italy’s energy infrastructure company Snam, told Bloomberg last month. “You can survive a week without electricity, but you can’t survive without gas.”
According to the EU’s green transition plans – and that of all other countries with a green agenda – the authorities tend to assume that the only path to a carbon-neutral future is through total electrification. And these plans show that everything will be easy and cheap, repeating the already immortalized words of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, reversing the words of the frog Kermit: “It’s easy to be green.” Johnson also stressed that it is possible for Britain to become 100% green (with nuclear power on) by 2035.
Authorities in China may also have assumed that the transition would be easy after imposing stricter emission rules on industry and utilities. However, Beijing has allowed power plants to use “whatever is needed” to generate electricity after the country faced a shortage of energy supplies. But wasn’t the reaction too late after the factories began to shut down en masse?
The years of underinvestment, after coal became mankind’s greatest mistake, are now coming to the surface in front of governments. But it had to happen. Once a raw material is demonized, a raw material that has played a significant role in the progress of civilization for more than a century, and the world pours billions of dollars into its erasure, it is possible that these efforts will eventually succeed. But in the meantime, it’s a good idea to make sure you have an alternative to this raw material that can completely replace it.
The energy crisis has shown unequivocally that wind and solar energy cannot be compared to coal, oil or gas in terms of security of supply. They can’t because they depend on the climate and the weather. However, the EU rushed to them, dragging China and the United States to replace fossil fuels. We are now all paying the down payment for this hasty purchase of renewables.
In fact, it is entirely true to explain high energy prices with policies for the transition to clean energy. It is these policies that discourage investment in oil, gas and coal production. It is these policies that have led to the phasing out of coal and nuclear power plants, whose capacity simply cannot be replaced by wind or solar energy. And it is these policies in Europe, China, North America and elsewhere in the world that, unless revised to reflect reality a little better, will condemn billions of people to energy shortages and higher electricity bills.