EU officials now fretting over Europe’s conspicuously higher energy prices

posted at 8:41 pm on May 23, 2013 by Erika Johnsen

For quite some time now, Europeans and various EU member countries have done plenty of self-congratulatory applauding of their own green-energy efforts, proudly lauding their many expensive renewable subsidy programs and quotas and their flailing cap-and-trade scheme and whatever else as an excellent example of what they were certain would prove to be the way of what must unquestionably, necessarily be a carbon-free future — except that, in Brussels over the past week, one simple chart has been making the rounds that is accelerating a possible group rethink of Europe’s fractured and lavish energy policies, via the Financial Times:

From a common point in 2005, three lines diverge widely to reflect the fact that prices in Europe are now 37 per cent higher than those in the US, and almost 20 per cent higher than those in Japan.

That chart captures a growing fear in Europe that rising energy prices now pose a threat to the industrial competitiveness of a region mired in recession. It has been driven home by a steady stream of announcements from European manufacturers about plans to build new production facilities in the US.

While they’ve been hoping to rely on what I’m sure was the well-intentioned and yet very highly subsidized deployment of many pricey fledgling technologies not ready for prime time and their subsequent discouragements of price efficiency, Europe has been steadily resisting opening up their resources to the type of shale boom that has been rocking and rolling in the United States. Could be that Europe has less abundant resources and a different geological makeup, but you never know until you explore, and right now companies are looking to start high-tailing it over to the United States. Not wanting their own markets and competitiveness to get left in the dust, it sounds like more and more Europeans are tentatively ready to consider setting up the right regulatory environment to allow for their own:

EU leaders agreed Wednesday to face up to the challenge posed by the shale oil and gas revolution which has slashed US energy prices, undercutting Europe’s competitive edge.

“All leaders are aware that sustainable and affordable energy is key to keeping factories and jobs in Europe,” European President Herman Van Rompuy said.

“Industry finds it hard to compete with foreign firms who pay half the price for electricity, like in the United States,” Van Rompuy said at the close of an EU summit focused on energy and tax evasion.

Britain, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Spain favour developing shale energy but others, and France in particular, are reluctant or opposed, citing environmental fears.

For the multiple European economies stuck in recession- and/or stagnation mode, voluntarily taking on higher energy costs — one of the most fundamental building blocks of cost of living that in turn has an effect on nearly everything else — by disallowing certain types of domestic energy production, in favor of subsidizing less efficient and affordable ones, is a terrible idea. No doubt many determinedly ‘green’ and and environmentalist Europeans will argue that it’s all worth for the sake of protecting future generations from a ravaged climate… and yet somehow, it’s the United States that has lately been pretty darn successful at bringing down carbon emissions without self-imposed vows of imagined renewable chastity.

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angrymike on May 23, 2013 at 8:44 PM

Well, that money is going somewhere. Just re-direct to the poor, and Shangrila.

BobMbx on May 23, 2013 at 8:44 PM

Just think what our prices would be going down to if the statists running our country weren’t dedicated to killing coal for electricity generation.

karenhasfreedom on May 23, 2013 at 8:48 PM

Wind Powah!

Del Dolemonte on May 23, 2013 at 8:48 PM

And Japan’s energy cost hike is due to loss of nuclear capacity due to natural disaster — and the need to import energy otherwise. That is a worst case scenario — and Europe is still off the charts with respect to Japan.

65droptop on May 23, 2013 at 8:55 PM

“All leaders are aware that sustainable and affordable energy is key to keeping factories and jobs in Europe,” European President Herman Van Rompuy said.

Why in the hell would I care what a low-grade bank clerk thinks about energy production?

(Google “Low grade bank clerk”)…

JohnGalt23 on May 23, 2013 at 9:00 PM

France is not opposed REALLY for “environmental” reasons. They are opposed because they sell nuclear electricity to everyone else. If Germany and the UK develop shale gas, they will not buy as much French nuclear generated electricity.

crosspatch on May 23, 2013 at 9:03 PM

(Google “Low grade bank clerk”)…

JohnGalt23 on May 23, 2013 at 9:00 PM

Or save time and search “Nigel Farage” on youtube.

65droptop on May 23, 2013 at 9:08 PM

Good, let the Europeans squander their wealth in boondoggle “green” tech.

When the muslems take over, they’ll be conquering a continent with very little usable infrastructure.

Rebar on May 23, 2013 at 9:10 PM

The problem with these ‘renewables’ are that they are anything but. The capital costs of the windmills is enormous while the windmills themselves have never even lasted through the depreciation schedule without recapitalization. Even when manufactured in China. Likewise solar. Solar costs 4 times the kilowatt hour without subsidies, but the panels lose 50% of their electrical generation by years 6-7. Likewise battery storage technology.The infrastructure cost is far more substantial than is generally recognized with transformers necessary to handle the surge load and wear and tear on generators that must maintain a 100% backup capacity.
The only renewable technologies that are proving themselves have done so because they actually work.

Solar Hot Water Heaters
Waste Heat Pumps and Cogeneration
Agriculture waste incineration

Only the latter two lend themselves to grid generation.

pat on May 23, 2013 at 9:18 PM

What a bunch of dumbasses.

forest on May 23, 2013 at 9:24 PM

Dear EU,

Sue Michael Mann, name the DNC and Obama as co-conspirtors.

It was/is fraud easy to win.

APACHEWHOKNOWS on May 23, 2013 at 9:30 PM

Sanity pops its head out in EU doesn’t like what it sees.

Slowburn on May 23, 2013 at 9:34 PM

So have the Germans shut down all their nuclear power plants yet? Didn’t Merkel vow to accelerate the phase-out after Japan?

I can’t begin to imagine paying those sorts of prices. Between the high tax rates, gas prices and the costs of electricity – I’m surprised more people aren’t living in cardboard boxes.

Hill60 on May 23, 2013 at 10:07 PM

Europe is such a weird place. All the labor laws that people can’t be fired, and there’s no mobility in the workforce, and they just can’t figure out how to be competitive. It’s not a dynamic place, reading about the travails of the tire factories in France, etc. No wonder the people are so blasé about their professions. They get stuck in the same job for 40 years. I can’t imagine anything worse. They really need to open up and be more dynamic and competitive.

Allahs vulva on May 23, 2013 at 10:14 PM

and yet somehow, it’s the United States that has lately been pretty darn successful at bringing down carbon emissions

Who gives a damn about carbon emissions? They have nothing to do with anything about the climate. Stop playing the lefty lines. Carbon emissions are BULLSH!T. Don’t even bother talking about them. It’s bad enought hat Barky and his retard junta are still trying to strangle us with the global warming mumbo jumbo.

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on May 23, 2013 at 10:28 PM

What the Europeans really expected was that the US and Japan would follow them down the yellow brick road and raise our energy prices too. That way they wouldn’t have had any competitive disadvantage.

Steven Den Beste on May 23, 2013 at 10:59 PM

They were DESPERATELY hoping we’d agree to the madness that’s Cap-And-Trade, along with the Kyoto stupidity.

Interestingly, and not reported at all, is that we’re down to 1992 emission levels. NOT because of forcing industry to conform, but by the natural movement by the market to natural gas.

Europe’s only hope is in Eastern Europe, where a Poland or another country doesn’t sign off on this and has shale deposits to develop.

Other than that, they can simply keep complaining.

itsspideyman on May 23, 2013 at 11:02 PM

Them and us.

The liberals have a strict economic view of man when it suits them to show inequality.

The idea that producing more or living in a nation with a budget limit scares them.

The fact that we are hurting our people with DHS and TSA and thousands of agents and soldiers to waste both national and taxpayer treasure is the REAL inconvenient truth for us today. WW II cured Europe of desire for big war plans.

However, Europe never did master cost/benefit analysis but they are about to learn. We know better but keep electing the math and engineering challenged.

Detroit rots, kids are aborted, educations and research projects never finished while both we and Europe mess around on defense with a 14th century culture and shove electric mechanisms into cars before the technology has reasonable environmental benefits.

Europe will get very interesting when they discover they can’t afford to live on engineering which is easily stolen and energy plans which don’t make sense. We have that problem also but have an escape hatch with fossil fuels.

IlikedAUH2O on May 23, 2013 at 11:24 PM

Europe: Well-educated, risk-averse, no ideas.

virgo on May 24, 2013 at 1:50 AM

Cheap energy is what allowed this country to become a superpower. It is hard to believe that the libtards cannot see that cheap engergy = prosperity.

brtex on May 24, 2013 at 9:22 AM

IlikedAUH2O on May 23, 2013 at 11:24 PM

The intellectuals in the western world came to believe they could survive on intellectual property. The Chinese and Koreans have put a big stick in the spokes of that idea.

brtex on May 24, 2013 at 9:25 AM

How much do they pay on average per kilowatt-hour over there, anyway? Consumers, and businesses? The latest deal I signed up for a couple of months ago is 8.1 cents per kWh.

Ward Cleaver on May 24, 2013 at 10:03 AM

What is so freaking irritating is that the US could be in the middle of a massive economic BOOM, instead of the stagnation we’re currently caught in!

So here we have evidence that European countries are looking at the US as a cheaper place to do business because of energy costs. And if it weren’t for the avalanche of rules, regulations and taxes… they would be seriously considering moving here! We could be to Europe what China is to us!

But no… government needs to control every aspect of every aspect and will not untie our hands to compete, and compete well, against the world. Clueless, power-hungry politicians…

dominigan on May 24, 2013 at 10:25 AM

Europe is the Pareto Principle (the 80/20 rule) fully exposed.

80% of the people on the planet are MORONS.
They are in control of the European Union…and many other governments.
They inhabit the UN.

The other 20% are busy learning, inventing and producing to support the 80%.

It won’t last much longer.
The US Government is now completely corrupted…and we know it.
We’re at risk, but so are they.


dirtengineer on May 24, 2013 at 11:05 AM

Cheap energy is what allowed this country to become a superpower. It is hard to believe that the libtards cannot see that cheap energy = prosperity.

brtex on May 24, 2013 at 9:22 AM

Actually that’s the problem.

Slowburn on May 24, 2013 at 2:51 PM

My dad got a ground source heat pump… but to be fair to him when I asked:

How much do you save, and how much did it cost

I just wanted to see how one was put in, so I bought one

I think his ROI would be break even in about 100 years. But it’s his money.*

From what I read it might be a worthwhile investment IF you do it BEFORE the house is built (over the lifetime of the house). Otherwise it’s a costly toy.

*Mostly. I think he got a tax credit for some of it; so the green energy policy means some of it was your money.

gekkobear on May 24, 2013 at 4:36 PM

Hmm. Still nothing informing the ignorant conservatives that the government has more than quadruple its investment in Tesla. I get it. Doesn’t support the narrative that green technology does work correct?

HotAirLib on May 28, 2013 at 7:03 PM

You write that as if the government has a stake in whether or not Tesla actually economically works. A private person putting their money into Tesla has a real interest in whether it works because the money is basically lost if it doesn’t. A government not so much.

I am not hijacking anything. The article as usual is about how bad green energy is. I am only asking why we are yet to see an article informing the ignorant conservative of how some green initiatives do work.

HotAirLib on May 28, 2013 at 7:22 PM

In what way? There are special purpose situations where having a PV or wind turbine, etc., would be the more efficacious solution, but perhaps you might enlighten us about these successful green initiatives. Surely they don’t require laws or subsidies to function or be economically functional, don’t they?

The article is about, in part, how Europe has to import wood from the US in order to power their wood-burning powerplants. An excellent example of how a fuel can be transported from a place of plenty, and therefore relatively cheap, which now has a big incentive to plant more trees to eventually sell, to a place where burnable wood (that they are willing to cut down) is comparatively scarce.

They get the wood they need. We get the exports we want. International trade increases. I’d say a decent exchange.

So I think most people think of GREEN energy as meaning not having to physically import the fuel stock, especially from relatively far away, which would seem to be the a minor point of the article, in part. Another minor point is that GREEN energy does not come cheap. Eventually it may be competitive with fossil fuel sources either by technological improvements/innovations or from fossil fuel sources just becoming harder to extract, but most greens don’t want to wait that long.

Russ808 on May 29, 2013 at 8:45 PM