Tensions with Russia proving unhelpful for Germany’s green-energy transition

posted at 8:01 pm on March 27, 2014 by Erika Johnsen

It wasn’t so very long ago that Germany decided that it would be the green-energy pioneer for which the world was so desperately hoping, and Europe’s largest economy embarked upon the ambitious Energiewende through which it planned to entirely do away with nuclear energy, preempt hydrofracking, and to transition more heavily to wind and solar energy. It all sounded pretty great, until the renewables proved so costly and unreliable that coal-plant construction actually increased while electricity prices skyrocketed:

German household energy prices have soared 80 percent in the last eight years due to the costs of subsidizing renewable energy. The main driver has been the so-called “renewable energy reallocation charge,” which cost customers $33 billion last year alone.

In turn, Germany’s high energy prices have caused a major loss in industrial competitiveness compared to less expensive business destinations like the United States, and the end result of it all so far has been an uptick in total carbon emissions. Oof.

Their preferred renewables energies just haven’t been up to the task of replacing nuclear plants at the pace at which Germany wants to shut them down, and they have a standing ban on exploring unconventional natural gas reserves (a.k.a., on shale plays that require hydraulic fracturing for extraction) — but the situation with Russia and Ukraine, and their dependence on Russia for almost forty percent of their natural gas supplies, has them pondering over the wisdom of that position.

The crisis in Ukraine has added an extra dose of uncertainty to German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s biggest domestic project: shifting the country from nuclear to renewable energy sources. …

Merkel is still pushing ahead with the plan to shift away from nuclear energy. But if the situation with Russia escalates and Germany decides to try and reduce its reliance on Russian gas, there could be problems staying on track. …

Alexander Rahr, research director of the Germany-Russia Forum think tank, notes that as nuclear power has been phased out, Russian coal “has taken on a more important role for Germany.”

Right now it doesn’t seem likely that Russia would shut down its gas pipelines — or that Germany and other western European nations would include fuel supplies in any economic sanctions — but the situation in Ukraine does have people talking about “what if?” Merkel herself conceded last week there is “some unease” among European leaders about Russian gas, but also noted “even in the Cold War the gas, the oil kept flowing.” …

True that it’s currently just as much in Russia’s interest to keep the energy flowing as it is Germany’s and everybody else’s (Russia’s economy is heavily dependent on those exports), but a lot of people are wondering if Germany mightn’t feel more comfortable about getting tough with sanctions if they weren’t quite so reliant on Russia for energy — and in the meantime, their forced renewable transition and refusal to frack is only benefiting coal.


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Maybe a bunch of freezing pissed off Germans will re-invade Russia…..

After all – It took Hitler 3 years after hosting the Olympics to invade Poland….

It only took Putin 3 weeks after hosting the Olympics before invading Crimea.

redguy on March 27, 2014 at 8:15 PM

Meh, Europe’s going green is what was behind Europe meddling in Ukraine. They were attempting to influence the price of natural gas and electricity, instead, they provoked Russia into taking aggressive action.

oscarwilde on March 27, 2014 at 8:16 PM

Going green has worked out real well for Spain too.

Kaffa on March 27, 2014 at 8:19 PM

Coming to a place near you.

Under my plan of a cap and trade system, “electricity rates will necessary skyrocket.
Barack Obama

Alabama Infidel on March 27, 2014 at 8:22 PM

Under my plan of a cap and trade system, “electricity rates will necessary skyrocket.
Barack Obama

Alabama Infidel on March 27, 2014 at 8:22 PM

Quoting the Won, means you are an evil raaaaacist…

oscarwilde on March 27, 2014 at 8:23 PM

They may have been trying to go green, but they certainly are still contributing to a ton of carbon emissions.

I drove across central Germany last November 2013, from the Czech border to almost the Netherlands and all I saw for half the trip (eastern half) was industry after industry spewing out carbon.

It was so thick that it hung in the valleys of those rolling hills, sometimes looking like deep fog banks until you opened your car window and gave a whiff.

Me thinks their acting like the vanguards of going green was a public face and a tap dance for the EU.

Walter L. Newton on March 27, 2014 at 8:26 PM

As Kiev looks West, Putin turns east to build Eurasian dream

By Dmitry Solovyov

ALMATY Thu Mar 27, 2014 3:28am EDT
**********************************

(Reuters) – With his biggest prize escaping his grasp in Ukraine, Vladimir Putin is likely to turn to the autocrats of Central Asia, particularly Kazakhstan’s Nursultan Nazarbayev, to further his aim of erecting a Eurasian Union of former Soviet states.

The Russian president’s swift annexation of Crimea has earned him huge popularity at home but ends his dream for now of bringing the rest of Ukraine voluntarily into the new structure he plans to build on as much as possible of the ex-Soviet space.

“Having lost Ukraine, Central Asia will be much more sought after by Moscow in striking its integration plans,” said Lilit Gevorgyan, an analyst at IHS Global Insight.
(More…)
==========

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/03/27/us-ukraine-crisis-centralasia-idUSBREA2Q0BP20140327?feedType=RSS&feedName=topNews&utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter&dlvrit=992637

canopfor on March 27, 2014 at 8:42 PM

http://www.ihs.com/index.aspx

Ukraine Crisis: Economic Implications

IHS Chief Economist Nariman Behravesh discusses the implications of the Ukraine-Russia crisis on the global economy. Watch Video
=========================================================

Ukraine – Russia Crisis: Global Economic Implications

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OZiGWJts_6I

canopfor on March 27, 2014 at 8:45 PM

This would be a great story if the Russian tanks invading Ukraine were solar powered…

Electrongod on March 27, 2014 at 8:48 PM

This would be a great story if the Russian tanks invading Ukraine were solar powered…

Electrongod on March 27, 2014 at 8:48 PM

How do you know they’re not? Have you actually seen any of those tanks?

oscarwilde on March 27, 2014 at 9:00 PM

Hmm, France gets 85% of it’s electricity from some 50 nuke plants. Germany is going non-nuclear and trying to use the weather to generate electricity. France’s CO2 emissions are half per capita what green Germany’s is. I don’t really give a crap about their CO2 emissions but they seem to be important to the enviro-weenies.

Oldnuke on March 27, 2014 at 9:30 PM

Me thinks their acting like the vanguards of going green was a public face and a tap dance for the EU.

Walter L. Newton on March 27, 2014 at 8:26 PM

No, they meant every word of it. The Green Party is that powerful in Germany.

Among their other brilliant ideas is making German houses so hermetically sealed (to “prevent wasting heat) that mold infestations can reach dangerous proportions.

And such extensive mandated use of “low-flow” toilets that their municipal sewage systems are jammed with solid waste due to insufficient water to carry it away correctly. (A problem San Francisco also has for exactly the same reason.)

If you want to see what unbridled “environmentalism” can do, look at Germany.

They’ve been bitten in the a$$ by the Law of Unintended Consequences so many times the entire nation can’t sit properly.

Their best bet would be to throw the “Greens” across the nearest border.

I’m sure France would welcome them with open arms. After all, they elected Hollande. And Belgium is the home of the EU; I’m sure they still think they’re gods.

Poland… would probably immediately throw them back. They’ve already seen what they’ve done to Germany.

clear ether

eon

eon on March 27, 2014 at 9:34 PM

While King Barky the Incompetent makes offensive comments from a point of weakness, Putin knows he holds all the cards. And by cards, I mean controlling 40% of real energy going into socialist europe. Socialist europe knows it too. Socialist europe will not have Obama’s back.

As I have said before, anyone with the assets and capability should flee the Warsaw Pact countries. It’s just a matter of time.

jukin3 on March 27, 2014 at 9:35 PM

Meh, Europe’s going green is what was behind Europe meddling in Ukraine. They were attempting to influence the price of natural gas and electricity, instead, they provoked Russia into taking aggressive action.

oscarwilde on March 27, 2014 at 8:16 PM

I don’t think he needed to be provoked. He just needed an excuse and an opening.

crankyoldlady on March 27, 2014 at 9:49 PM

So they can go back to burning coal to heat their homes!

If they continue to ban nuclear and fracking and keep oil imports down and solar doesn’t supply enough for heating (like its not close), they could use the old standby — coal. The only problem is each home would need to spend $10,000s of dollars on coal filtering technology OR just go back to have their cities covering in a layer of coal dust (I remember those days.) On my spring visit to Prague in 72, the whole city was covered in coal dust, you couldn’t sit on a park bench or lean against anything without getting it on you.

KenInIL on March 27, 2014 at 10:06 PM

…oh well!

KOOLAID2 on March 27, 2014 at 10:45 PM

Wait: for years we have been told that wind and solar will solve all of our problems. That they are such great “alternative fuels” that we should destroy our economies to focus in them. Are you telling me they can’t cover the entire needs of a nation, much less run without the help of fossil fuels?

I am shocked! /sarc

ptcamn on March 27, 2014 at 11:01 PM

To see what effects such a regional nuclear conflict might have on climate, scientists modeled a war between India and Pakistan involving 100 Hiroshima-level bombs, each packing the equivalent of 15,000 tons of TNT — just a small fraction of the world’s current nuclear arsenal. They simulated interactions within and between the atmosphere, ocean, land and sea ice components of the Earth’s climate system.

Scientists found the effects of such a war could be catastrophic.

“Most people would be surprised to know that even a very small regional nuclear war on the other side of the planet could disrupt global climate for at least a decade and wipe out the ozone layer for a decade,” study lead author Michael Mills, an atmospheric scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Colorado, told Live Science.

… please excuse my skepticism, but, not to mention a whole series of nuclear tests in the 50′s and 60′s, the Soviets detonated a 50,000,000 ton nuclear device back in the 60′s (that’s about 3000 15kiloton devices or about 30X the simulation in the piece) and the world didn’t end.

If you recall, we also got a dose of this hyperbole back during the Gulf War (from Carl Sagan, I believe) when we were told that the possibly of burning Kuwait oil fields should stop us from going to war because it would cause, at least, regional cooling, which never occurred enough that anybody noticed.

Oddly, Wikipedia mentions a 2006 AGU study with 50 Hiroshima-sized nuclear weapons. I guess they doubled it to compensate for the “Kuwait-effect.”

J_Crater on March 28, 2014 at 12:03 AM

How do you know they’re not? Have you actually seen any of those tanks?

oscarwilde on March 27, 2014 at 9:00 PM

The solar panels would have to be the size of Montana.

BDavis on March 28, 2014 at 1:16 AM

I don’t think he needed to be provoked. He just needed an excuse and an opening.

crankyoldlady on March 27, 2014 at 9:49 PM

I think everything flows from the new, virulently anti-Russian junta. Putin wasn’t doing anything much before the coup.

Viktor Yanukovych was playing the Russians and the EU off against each other, keeping his word to nobody and trying to maximize the flow of bribes coming in. Vladimir Putin was just playing along, matching bribe for bribe or a little more, expecting to win in the long run, because Ukraine matters more to Russia than to anyone else that has a serious budget.

Putin didn’t show any interest in splitting off Crimea. He was interested in winning the whole thing: Ukraine, lock, stock and barrel. But patiently: softly-softly catchee-monkey.

Victoria Nuland’s coup, the passionately anti-Russian character of the new government, and the EU’s total lack of interest in upholding its own agreements changed his mind in under 24 hours. He went from wanting Ukraine to stay together (the better to scoop it all up) to taking what he could without needless delays.

David Blue on March 28, 2014 at 7:31 AM

Me thinks their acting like the vanguards of going green was a public face and a tap dance for the EU.

Walter L. Newton on March 27, 2014 at 8:26 PM

they (predecessors maybe,cannot remember specific names) were dicks in the 80′s before the EU.
I always felt (no proof) they were involved into the incursion into nato site5 at fleigerhorst kaserne in erlenssee germany (just outside hanau) that led to its being de-nuked.

dmacleo on March 28, 2014 at 8:22 AM

Me thinks their acting like the vanguards of going green was a public face and a tap dance for the EU.

Walter L. Newton on March 27, 2014 at 8:26 PM

they (predecessors maybe,cannot remember specific names) were d**ks in the 80′s before the EU.
I always felt (no proof) they were involved into the incursion into nato site5 at fleigerhorst kaserne in erlenssee germany (just outside hanau) that led to its being de-nuked.

dmacleo on March 28, 2014 at 8:23 AM

Merkel is a short-visioned, mother hen bureaucrat.

albill on March 28, 2014 at 1:51 PM

Not to sound trite or redundant (OK, I will), “Merkel, embrace the suck!”

vnvet on March 28, 2014 at 5:21 PM

So, will they be returning to those thrilling days of yesteryear, and pulling their trains with locomotives that burn coal?

I.e., steam locomotives?

Remember, the soot particles from a stable fire are much larger than those from the cylinders of a Diesel motor, so they fall out faster and cause less damage to lungs. Plus, the steam condenses on them; enhancing the self-cleaning factor.

Sure, I’m being silly… Now, imagine a windmill built on top of a locomotive. cough

ReggieA on March 28, 2014 at 10:00 PM