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Nov 14, 2021
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Ukrainian straw against Russian gas: Why Kiev is confident of its victory

Ukrainian straw against Russian gas: Why Kiev is confident of its victory

Photo: Katherine Illsley / LOOP IMAGES / TASS

On November 11, on the ICE Futures exchange, the cost of a futures contract on the TTF spot index fell by 3.4% and amounted to € 70 per 1,000 kWh. This is equivalent to $ 882 per 1,000 cubic meters of natural gas, which is almost $ 300 cheaper than 20 days ago. The explanation is simple: Gazprom again began pumping gas to Germany, acting on behalf of the President Vladimir Putin on increasing supplies to Europe after filling their “home” gas storage facilities.

“The resumption of Russian gas supplies to Germany has calmed the nerves of traders,” she said. Emily McClain, Senior Gas Markets Analyst at Rystad Energy. According to her, there is hope that about 2 billion cubic meters of gas will be accumulated in the FRG gas storage facilities. m of additional volumes. “However, it is clear that this is not enough for a harsh winter,” concluded McClain.

Meanwhile, the European “greens” are confident that the Russians used “gas weapons” and even allegedly won one battle in the energy war against the EU. But all the same, the victory will be for the Europeans, I am sure, for example, the activist Annalena Berbock… Say, high prices for blue fuel once again confirm that one should not drag out the energy transition to a hydrocarbon-free economy. Moreover, in Germany there are serious developments in this direction.

Is this really so, or are the “greens” wishful thinking? Let’s start with the fact that we in Russia understand decarbonization in a simplified way. Say, all attempts of “energy alternatives” are reduced to wind turbines and solar panels. In fact, the Germans and their European comrades, first of all, are betting on the technology of the so-called “passive house” and on the implementation of the EnerPHit standard for the reconstruction of the existing housing stock.

Who does not know: in Germany there is such an organization as the Passive House Institute, founded in 1996 in the city of Darmstadt by Dr. Wolfgang Feist… Its idea is to reduce energy consumption for heating and air conditioning housing by 20 times compared to current figures.

If today in central Europe, about 250-350 kWh is required to heat one “square” of living space per year, then with the transition to the PassiveHouse and EnerPHit standard, some 15 kWh per year will be needed. Approximately so much can be provided by solar panels on the roof, a wind turbine in the yard and a geothermal heat pump * under the house.

Theoretically, gas or other fuel will not be needed for heating at all, which means “no to Putin’s Gazprom.” It seemed that this was where the solution to the problem of the energy crisis was hiding. But there are also disadvantages. According to local builders, “passive houses” are about a third more expensive than ordinary houses, although experts from the Passive House Institute give different figures. According to their calculations, the price tag increases by about 10%.

In addition, this type of buildings has critics among the tenants: someone complains about uncomfortable – ventilation is forced; someone does not like one-sided architecture, since the windows should face the sunny side; others grumble about the cost of maintenance. However, today, against the background of the current quotes on the ICE Futures exchange, they already assess their investments in this type of housing positively.

By the way, in Germany, as well as in Russia, real estate is growing sharply in price, outstripping inflation at times. According to Haus. de (German House), at the end of October the average purchase price of an apartment in a new rented house in the country was about 2550 euros per square meter. In Berlin and in seven of the best cities in Germany – 3200 euros. And in the most expensive Munich – 6800 euros. If you add another 30% here, then housing may not be available even to wealthy Germans.

It was here that a proposal emerged from the “enterprising” square that the “greens” in Germany, in theory, should not refuse. As the Kiev newspaper Ekonomichna Pravda informs, “one Ukrainian company has learned to build modern houses from ordinary straw. Such housing is not only ecological, but also energy efficient, because it saves up to 80% of money on heating. “

The publication cites the example of pensioners from Boryspil who have been living in a thatched house for seven years. It turns out that this 70 sq. m they heat with a small fireplace, but in winter the temperature inside the room does not drop below 18 degrees.

Author of the publication Vladimir Rikhlitsky states that mice do not eat the straw from which the walls are made. They say that smart businessmen sheathe panels with mesh. The technology is the most environmentally friendly: the straw is pressed under high pressure and coated with clay. There are no modern expensive plaster mixes behind which there is a carbon fiber trail. And in general, the fire is not terrible either, because the adobe that forms the outer layer does not burn.

The approximate cost of a straw passhaus with the label “Zrobleno in Ukraine” is $ 650 per sq. M. m, which is significantly lower than the average for Germany. This price includes a rough floor screed, clay plaster of the walls, electrical supply, warm water floor. For a prettier facade and a roof (in the standard version it is plywood) you will have to pay extra separately.

An explanation should be given, “Ekonomichna Pravda” gives the intra-Ukrainian prices, i.e. An adobe hut is as expensive as, for example, a decent mansion made of Italian bricks. This, however, does not frighten the local enterprising men who reason something like this: the Europeans called themselves “green”, “don’t let them live in adobe booths.” Straw is not some smelly polymer that emits harmful substances into the air, which is what advanced EU citizens fear most.

As for durability, this is the worst parameter. The businessmen selling these huts say: “We give a five-year guarantee for the house we have built.”

In Ukraine, the direction of “passive houses” is considered promising given the Brussels policy aimed at reducing greenhouse gases, as well as because of the current mind-boggling gas prices. The Gromadyans, by the way, have already sold several houses abroad. The first one – to Lithuania six years ago, the last one – to Slovakia this year.

Ekonomichna Pravda notes that in the EU such a hut should be sold for at least $ 200,000. This means that soon Ukraine will not only fill up the old world with environmentally friendly and energy-efficient booths, but will also save the Germans, French and other Dutchmen from Moscow’s “gas weapons”. And most importantly, she herself will get rich and ruin Putin.

However, the Ukrainian Internet people hate this “great” idea viciously.

“Adobe houses in the villages are being built today for food and moonshine, I don’t think the Germans will be led to some kind of environmentally friendly divorce.”

“In terms of price-to-life ratio, thatched mansions are the worst investment in real estate. What kind of suckers you have to be to get led by this. Lithuania bought one house, Slovakia bought another… they tried it and they don’t order it anymore ”.

“Earlier they promised to sell Antonov planes for the cordon, now they are proud of the export of adobe huts… they have survived.”

That is so, but the German Passive House Institute recorded in October-November a “fantastic” interest in passhouse technologies from Canadian British Columbia and British Bradford to Bavaria. Tens of thousands of construction firms have already requested the necessary information. How would these sky-high gas prices backfire in the future with a drop in demand for blue fuel. Say what you like, but there is a grain of common sense in the publication “Ekonomichna Pravda”.


* A heat pump is a special device for transferring heat energy from the ground to the heating system of a house. They work efficiently due to a consistently positive ground temperature (below the freezing point) all year round.

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