Tomorrow I’ll be recording a video with our energy expert James Allen. I’ll ask him whether the energy crisis is over, or just beginning. We’ll publish the result on Friday.
James’ subscribers know that he has declared the end of Europe’s gas crisis already. In fact, they profited from a plunging gas price, which even dipped below zero at one point, as oil did in 2020.
Well, if you buy a load of gas and don’t have anywhere to put it, you have to pay people to take it…
We’ve moved on from that shemozzle. Europe’s gas storage is now much more full than usual this time of year. Why? The Russians didn’t cut the Europeans off in the end. And the weather was mild, so we didn’t need as much.
It’s strange how we went from a gas shortage to a glut in the space of a month though…
Does this mean the energy crisis is also over? I’m not so sure yet.
In fact, I suspect that Europe’s giant gas hoarding for winter has actually done a lot of damage. It has done so in two ways: it bid up the price of gas to unaffordable levels for the European economy, and it stole gas away from those who could not afford to pay those prices.
You see, gas might be fungible, but if Europe is buying up gas it wasn’t before, then someone somewhere is going without.
The Financial Times: “Europe’s appetite for LNG leaves developing nations starved of gas”.
Firstpost: “No gas to cook: How Pakistan is facing a crippling crunch of fuel”.
I suppose such people don’t vote in EU elections for the European Commission, so they don’t matter…
Meanwhile, European energy demand was crushed as Dutch greenhouses went cold and chemical factories closed.
So the Europeans have my congratulations on their ability to escape the energy crisis by shutting down their economies and taking gas away from poor people around the world…
Not to mention burning a load of coal.
Wait, wasn’t the whole point of the energy transition to not burn coal?
And what happens in the future if we can’t burn coal?
But I’m emailing you today to ask what I should be asking James tomorrow. You see, he’s much more of a green-believer than I am. He has high hopes for the ability of renewables and energy storage to combine into a net-zero world. He believes we could achieve the emissions targets set out by our betters.
I’m getting worried the attempt to reach those targets is going to leave us in a rolling blackout instead.
Lately, high-profile renewable energy projects have been falling by the wayside even faster than usual.
Britishvolt went into administration, failing to clear the hurdles set by the government for public funding.
Two of Australia’s billionaires had backed a plan to send solar energy from Australia to Singapore via a 4,200-kilometre cable, but the company went under. The why is particularly telling, as reported by News.com.au:
“While funding proposals were provided, consensus on the future direction and funding structure of the company could not be achieved,” they said.
In short, it has become a $50 billion ego war that has left Australia’s green energy future hanging in the balance.
I suppose saving the planet is bound to have ego wars…
The Australian Financial Review has a different story:
Authorities and industries in Singapore say “we don’t know why you want to send us all these electrons, when what we’ve asked the world for – and no one’s giving us – is molecules”, Mr Forrest said on Monday. “We want green hydrogen, we want green, synthetic methane, we want green ammonia.”
I wonder why they prefer molecules over electrons.
Hydrogen company Plug Power is abandoning plans to build two plants in North America.
The Renewable Energy Institute calculated that 70% of Japan’s “hydrogen society” budget has been spent on “bad ideas”.
Bloomberg has a simpler example: “Wind Turbines Taller Than the Statue of Liberty Are Falling Over.”
And the list goes on.
All this failure in the midst of one of the greatest splurges of cash in human history. Biden’s Green New Deal was so big the Europeans actually complained about it! Then they came up with their own version…
But, on the edges, the real priorities are emerging. Australian politicians who were happy to allow mining for coal as long as Australians couldn’t use it are now forcing coal mining companies to keep some of the good stuff for the domestic market.
In fact, global coal usage is booming to a record 8 billion tonnes per year for the first time when it’s supposed to be tumbling. The International Energy Agency isn’t expecting the consumption to fall until 2025 either. (At that point, we’ll all be underwater.)
So, my worry is that governments’ attempts to go green will backfire in spectacular fashion, as they already have been doing. I also fret that the government’s policies to deal with the energy crisis will spectacularly backfire, as they already have.
If only politicians announced they were going to destroy the environment with fossil fuel power. Then the earth might stand a chance.
Let me know what to ask James by email: [email protected]
Editor, Fortune & Freedom