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May 2, 2022
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The Baltic sisters jumped: Europe itself does not have enough gas, and then you climb

The Baltic sisters jumped: Europe itself does not have enough gas, and then you climb

Photo: Victor Lisitsyn, Victor Lisitsyn/Global Look Press

Whatever one does or declares to the authorities of the Baltic republics, the main thing is to spoil Russia. Even if in the end it comes out sideways. Recently, they have been tirelessly talking about a sharp reduction in purchases of Russian electricity, followed by a quick rejection of it. More than once called “specific terms” “disconnection from Russia.” Not later than a month ago, the whole world confirmed these intentions, urging the rest of the EU countries to follow their example as soon as possible. In fact, not only do they continue to buy electricity from the “aggressor”, by which they mean the Russian Federation, but they are constantly increasing purchases.

Thus, compared to January of this year, their volume in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia has exactly doubled – up to 600 thousand megawatt-hours. And this, it seems, is not the limit, given the needs of the republics. To satisfy which, except for Russia, it seems, there is no one else.

In Finland, where, for example, Estonians regularly turn for help, their problems are in the generation. Namely, a decrease in the production of hydroelectric power plants and wind farms, so loved by Brussels. The Estonians, following the Lithuanians, rushed to the Poles, but even those shrug their shoulders, they themselves, they say, are disappearing, all hope is for the Swedish energy system, and its capacity is limited …

And all this almost simultaneously with the refusal of the three Baltic republics to receive natural gas from the Russian Federation for payment in rubles. From April 1st, it is no longer supplied to them. Switched to LNG (terminal in Klaipeda). And also for gas from the Inchukalns storage facility, which is northeast of Riga. But this is clearly not enough. In the same Inchukalns vault, according to Janis Eisakshead of the department of the national operator for the storage and transportation of this raw material, by January 2022 there was only a reserve stock. Given that, in terms of active gas volume (2.3 billion cubic meters), this UGS facility is the third in the world created in an aquifer, after Kasimovskoye (Russia) and Chemery (France).

As early as January, gas prices rose in the Baltic States. As the deputy of the Lithuanian Seimas rightly remarked on this Arturas Skarjus“no infrastructure and no friends will help influence the market price of gas.” And the Minister of Energy of this country Dainius Kravis offered to limit gas supplies to large companies, thereby plunging business into a stupor. After gas, then water, heating, electricity, food became more expensive.

The current price hike is even steeper. The cost of electricity increased in March in Latvia to 167.22 euros per megawatt-hour (for both households and businesses), which is 59.7% more than in February and 284% more than in March 2021 . And this is not the limit – from May 1, the price of electricity at the expense of one person will increase by an average of 3 times – up to 210 euros, depending on the type of tariff. To which local bloggers promptly responded: “This is our price for solidarity with Ukraine. Reasonable? Is not a fact. Fair? Absolutely not”.

The situation is similar in Lithuania and Estonia. The republics’ own generation (67% of the required electricity) is not capable of satisfying all their needs.

Note that exactly a year ago, during tests to exit the BRELL energy ring (Belarus, Russia, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania), a trinity of unfriendly neighbors had already stopped importing electricity from the Russian Federation. As an experiment, they said. Four days later, deliveries resumed – due to a sharp jump in the cost of electricity, the people and business murmured. I had to, as they say, “play the lights out.”

And what then were fenced? To be convinced of the inconsistency of their loud statements about “cutting off from Russia”?

Brussels and the entire EU are promised to “disconnect from Russia”, while they themselves increase imports by an order of magnitude. Estonians several years ago threatened to build their own modular nuclear reactor, but so far the matter has not moved beyond promises and discussions of a possible project. They do not give up the idea, however, they are now busy, judging by the statement of the government of this country, “by studying the impact of nuclear energy on the common energy market.”

And they are slowly preparing the population for rolling blackouts. As a resident of Tallinn writes in social networks German Takhtthe local authorities even consulted the Abkhazians on this matter. “I’ll call and tell my dad about this, who 30 years ago stood in the Baltic chains, freedom rallies and guarded Toompea (Tallinn’s government quarter – ed.) in the struggle for independence. Let him buy a potbelly stove and a diesel generator. It is such a freedom, it requires sacrifice and full dedication!

To comment on the situation, “SP” asked Alexei Grivach, Deputy General Director of the National Energy Security Fund (NESF).

“SP”: – What, in your opinion, is the reason for the sharp increase in March by the Balts of imports of Russian electricity – for the future, are they stocking up?

– It won’t work for the future, not firewood. This is rather a consequence of their refusal of our gas. Reduce its consumption by using electricity where possible.

“SP”: – Brussels, with its painful concern for the environment, tried at one time to oblige Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia to switch to “windmills” and solar panels. Estonians obediently bought 20 solar power parks in Poland for 17.3 million euros with a total capacity of 19.15 MW three years ago. But there is no word on their effectiveness…

— Efficiency in both cases depends on the weather. And she is unpredictable in the Baltic. No wind – no windmill energy. And when the storm wind is even worse, it can demolish installations. In addition, the power of wind turbines must be very large in order to match the desired result. Accordingly, the costs of their purchase, installation, maintenance are also required.

Capricious, as you know, and the sun. Electricity is needed regardless of the weather. Demand for it is most often in antiphase with the wind. Either it, electricity, is not enough, then it is too much and it is not clear what to do with it. In a word, one solid problem. This system can work more or less successfully only in a very large boiler, where it is possible to balance between wind and calm, such concepts as many and few. The Baltic republics do not have such an opportunity. The only guarantee for them to receive stable electricity is to buy it from Russia.

“SP”: – Their authorities assure that they are about to synchronize their electrical networks with European ones and will receive current from central and northern Europe. Are they bluffing?

It is possible to say so. Because this is not a quick business, definitely not three or five years, much longer, and requires large investments. So far, talk about this is nothing more than spotlights. Moreover, the Balts themselves. From the EU on this occasion, “signals” are not heard. By the way, the EU once obliged Lithuania to close the nuclear power plant, referring to the negative mood in society. Without it, they are having a hard time right now.

Importing electricity is not cheap. Well, they themselves made their choice, preferring politics to economics, acting contrary to the interests of their citizens. The result is an increase in risks, a decrease in the energy security of these countries. Plus – the loss of advantages in trade with the Russian Federation, which they had by right of neighborhood and long-standing affinity. And a slow but inevitable transition from subsidized EU states to super subsidized ones. That is, in fact, freeloaders.

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