The German government has only three months left to prevent a catastrophe that could occur in the winter due to gas shortages, according to Bloomberg. The authors point out that the German authorities are taking unprecedented measures to save energy and prepare for the heating season. Germany’s presidential palace in Berlin is no longer lit up at night, hot water is turned off in Hannover for showers and gyms, and municipalities across the country are preparing heating shelters to keep people out of the cold, but all this may not be enough.
“With storage at 68% full and replenishment rates likely to come down after last week’s pipeline shutdown, Germany risks missing the government’s 95% target by November 1st. The country’s network regulator says that reaching this level is hardly possible without additional measures.
The authors blame the administration of the German chancellor Olaf Scholz that it is in no hurry to address the problem of Germany’s energy vulnerability, and that efforts to secure alternative gas supplies to the country are failing. Analyst at consulting company Wood Mackenzie Ltd. Penny Leek warned that if Nord Stream flows remain at 20%, then Germany will be in the “danger zone”. A cold snap in Europe and Asia could force companies to scramble for limited liquefied natural gas (LNG) supplies, she said, and rising prices could prompt production shutdowns and wipe out about 17% of industrial fuel demand.
Estimates of the situation in the energy sector in Germany and throughout Europe worsen and other American analysts. So, Business Insider, citing a study by Bank of America, wrote that the gas situation in the European Union has been rapidly turning from “bad” to “terrible” over the past month. European states may simply not have enough blue fuel reserves for the winter period.
“With Nord Stream operating at 20% of its capacity, countries may not have time to accumulate enough gas for the winter, so the EU is planning a large-scale demand rationing,” Bank of America experts explained.
Deputy General Director of the National Energy Institute Alexander Frolov told Gazeta.Ru that a “catastrophe” or, more correctly, an energy crisis in the European Union is inevitable, but it will not begin in winter, but is already in full swing now.
– I see the meaning of such publications in only one thing – to increase the readability of this publication. Forecasts in the style of “we are all going to die” diverge very well in the countries of the West, especially considering that the situation is really alarming, and it has become so not now, but at least in the summer of 2021. In the current situation, additional factors have arisen that bring confusion to what is happening, so any forecasts that not only speak of horror, but also give specific dates, find their reader.
But disaster is not coming. In fact, Europe and Germany have been in a state of catastrophe for almost a year, at least since the fourth quarter of 2021. The EU has had problems since the middle of last year, because the energy crisis began in the world, and the European market, due to its architecture, turned out to be the most vulnerable region among developed economies. From the fourth quarter, consumption began to pour in there due to industrial enterprises, which began to suspend work.
Can this be considered the normal state of affairs? It is forbidden. Is it a disaster? You can say so. But the most adequate assessment of what is happening is an energy crisis turning into an economic crisis.
In the first quarter of 2022 alone, gas consumption in the industrial sector of the EU decreased by 20%. This means that by this time quite a lot of enterprises had already been closed. Further, this decline accelerated, and in the first half of the year, gas consumption in the European Union fell by 27 billion cubic meters. Can we say that this is not a disaster? But then it is not entirely clear what is considered a disaster. Apparently, something like what happened in Texas in February 2021, when severe cold for the region hit and problems with energy supply began, a number of power plants stopped, huge bills, and so on.
Although not to say that this is so far away. In the 20th of July, the UK, for example, showed record prices per megawatt per hour – about 12 thousand, if you convert pounds into dollars. This is 5000% more than normal. And this is more than the growth of accounts in Texas at the time of the “catastrophe.” Yes, it was a short-lived spike, but prices are projected to rise by £500 per month, despite payments averaging £700 per month in 2020.
“SP”: – That is, it will obviously not be possible to fix all this in three months?
– What is happening is, in all seriousness, a catastrophe that has long-term consequences, and it will not be possible to cope with them not only in three months, but even in the medium term. Industrial enterprises for the most part will not work, even when the global crisis is over. Either they have already closed, or they have moved production, or they will lose market share due to competition.
Apparently, Bloomberg suggests that the catastrophe is when people in unheated homes will freeze to death. But there are already statistics on energy poverty in Europe. Perhaps, from their point of view, when several thousand people die because they do not have access to financial resources because of their financial condition, this is not a disaster, but when a hundred thousand people are already a disaster.
I repeat, all these processes, including the growth of energy poverty, did not begin now, but last year. But admitting this means admitting that the problem is not in Russia and not in the conflict in Ukraine, but in the fact that the EU, back in 2009, chose the wrong direction for developing its energy sector. But then you will have to redirect financial flows, reconsider decisions. Why, if you can simply appoint the guilty – Russia.
“SP”: – What alternatives does Europe have now, is it possible to ensure the most painless passage of winter?
— It is very problematic. In the same Bloomberg article, there is a sound idea, for example, about problems with the supply of electricity from France. This country is now experiencing problems with nuclear generation, which allowed it to be one of the largest exporters of electricity in the EU. Today, any small disruption in the EU energy system, for example, the absence of wind for several weeks, leads to very serious problems, financial losses and a sharp increase in prices. This is happening now, in the summer, there is no need to wait for winter.
The crisis has already come to Europe, but the local authorities are doing nothing to deal with it. Although it would be very easy to fend off all these problems. Due to the launch of Nord Stream 2. Technically, this is very easy to do. But not politically. As the “wise” European leadership, for example, Energy Minister Robert Habek, assures, this will be the capitulation of Europe, which is “at war” with Russia with all its might. But if this approach continues, I have bad news for the Europeans – the crisis will not only continue, the catastrophe will grow so much that it will be physically impossible to avoid it. Because the Europeans themselves have turned their backs to the exit and are running away from it in the other direction.