About Europe and energy

From this week’s Newsweek:

Europe is gripped by an energy crisis due to rising natural gas prices, increased demand for fossil fuels and the approaching winter. Consideration is now being given to reverting to coal.

Coal is the most polluting fossil fuel and European countries have committed to shutting down all coal-fired power stations by 2030. By March of this year, Europe was already halfway there, but energy scarcity has led some power producers to demand more supplies of coal and gas from Russia, while API2 Rotterdam’s coal futures – a benchmark price for coal to be imported into northwestern Europe – in September. have increased by USD 80 per tonne and have exceeded USD 230 per tonne.

Coal stocks have also increased as demand has increased, as European producers have turned to coal as a result of the energy crisis.

Experts speaking to Newsweek suggested that coal is not the future of energy supply for Europe, but criticized the EU’s current energy policy.

Ralph Schoellhammer, an assistant professor of international relations at Webster University in Vienna, Austria, points out the controversy surrounding nuclear energy.

“In Europe, the (energy supply) reality has finally caught up with the (sustainability) ideology. Climate policy has been formulated mainly by NGOs and young climate activists, but is not backed up by hard scientific evidence,” Schoellhammer told Newsweek.

This is especially clear on the basis of nuclear energy, which in terms of CO2 emissions is just as climate-friendly as wind energy. “But it is ideological objections that have ensured that nuclear power, for example in Germany, will be phased out in 2022 and at this point a reversal seems unlikely.”

“All of this is causing serious energy shortages – Sweden had to start up two oil-fired power plants that burn 140,000 liters of oil per hour, while Sweden has simultaneously shut down six of its 12 nuclear plants.”

“Politically, a temporary return to coal seems more ‘saleable’ than a return to nuclear power, because closing nuclear power plants has been politically promoted as a huge environmental success that it never has been,” Schoellhammer continued.

“The biggest problem, however, is the return of stagflation: German industrial production (due to energy scarcity) fell by 4 percent month on month in August, while inflation (due to scarcity of goods) reached new highs of more than 4 percent.”

“The aversion to fossil fuels has always been based on the mirage that the entire energy transition would have no real impact on the average European.” said Schoellhammer.

“The risk of runaway inflation makes people more and more sensitive to price increases and at some point, the use of fossil fuels and nuclear energy will take precedence politically over adherence to climate targets.

This was already reflected in the German elections on September 26, where voters who voted for the first time were more attracted to the pro-nuclear FDP than to the Greens.

“If things continue to develop as they are now, it could well herald the decline of the Green movement, as the costs of the Energy Transition slowly but surely exceed the sacrifices that especially the lower classes are willing to bear.” Daniel Esty is a professor at Yale Law School and a former commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. He was also a US climate change negotiator from 1989 to 1993. He argues that more needs to be done to create incentives for cost-effective renewable energy.

“Progress towards a clean energy future is almost certainly not going to be smooth. When prices spike, the public’s willingness to pay a significant premium to avoid greenhouse gas emissions declines. clean energy and renewable energy, but also cheaper and more reliable electricity. In this regard, European leaders made some serious policy mistakes, including committing to shut down nuclear power plants before renewable energy was widely available at competitive costs.”

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