With Russia’s Exit, Norway Becomes Europe’s Energy Champion – The New York Times

By Stanley ReedStanley Reed, who writes on energy from London, traveled to Oslo and Stavanger in Norway to report this article.April 6, 20236 MIN READThe new front line for Europe’s energy security is a modest office building overlooking a fjord in Stavanger, Norway. Inside, a company called Petoro oversees three dozen of the largest oil and natural gas fields in Europe, on Norway’s petroleum-rich continental shelf.These operations — in Norwegian waters marked by massive offshore platforms and wells snaking thousands of feet below the surface — have been instrumental in helping Europe heat its homes and generate electricity since the onset of Russia’s war in Ukraine.As Russia throttled back natural gas exports last year, Norway dialed them up, and it is now Europe’s main supplier of the fuel. Norway is also feeding greater quantities of oil to its neighbors, replacing embargoed Russian oil.“The war and the whole energy situation has demonstrated that Norwegian energy is extremely important for Europe,” said Kristin Fejerskov Kragseth, the chief executive of Petoro, a state-owned company that manages Norway’s petroleum holdings. “We were always important,” she added, “but maybe we didn’t realize it.”

Why Are Energy Prices So High? Some Experts Blame Deregulation. – The New York Times

6 MIN READ

“When California, New York, Texas and other states began deregulating their electricity markets in the 1990s, officials promised that those changes would foster competition and make energy more affordable.

But it hasn’t worked out that way.

Average retail electricity costs in the 35 states that have partly or entirely broken apart the generation, transmission and retail distribution of energy into separate businesses have risen faster than rates in the 15 states that have not deregulated, including Florida and Oregon. That difference has persisted for much of the last two decades or so, including in the last year, when energy prices increased worldwide after Russia invaded Ukraine.

On average, residents living in a deregulated market pay $40 more per month for electricity than those in the states that let individual utilities control most or all parts of the grid. Deregulated areas have had higher prices as far back as 1998.”

Germany Needs Coal to Replace Gas, So a Village Has to Go – The New York Times

Christopher F. Schuetze and 

“LÜTZERATH, Germany — For months, die-hard environmental activists have camped in the fields and occupied the trees in this tiny farming village in western Germany, hoping that like-minded people from across the country would arrive and help stop the expansion of a nearby open-pit coal mine that threatened to swallow the village and its farms.

They had reason to be optimistic. Mass protests led the German government to step in and save an old-growth forest from coal expansion just two years ago. And the Green party notched its best showing ever in elections last year, a sign of how fighting climate change had become a winning political issue in Europe’s largest economy.

“If there were 50,000 on the street, politicians would have to do something,” said Eckardt Heukamp, 58, the last farmer remaining in Lützerath, who put up some of the protesters in apartments on his property. Others built tree houses, pitched tents or moved into abandoned houses in the village.

But the hoped-for surge in protesters never materialized. And last week, the government effectively sealed Lützerath’s fate by announcing that RWE, Germany’s largest energy company, needed the coal under the village — to make up for gas that had stopped flowing in from Russia.”

Thomas Friedman | Putin and M.B.S. Are Laughing at Us – The New York Times

“. . . . While America can still theoretically take care of most of its own needs for oil and gas today, unlike Europe, we do not have enough to export at the scale required to make up for Putin’s and OPEC Plus’s cutbacks and ease Europe’s transition to a decarbonized future.

But the green progressives never got that message. At a House committee hearing two weeks ago, Representative Rashida Tlaib demanded to know if JPMorgan Chase C.E.O. Jamie Dimon and other banking executives appearing before the panel had any policies “against funding new oil and gas products.”

Dimon answered, “Absolutely not, and that would be the road to hell for America.”

Tlaib then told Dimon that any students who had student loans and bank accounts with JPMorgan should retaliate by closing their accounts. Have no doubt: This kind of juvenile moral preening by Tlaib surely made Vladimir Putin’s day. She’s nowhere nearly as bad as the G.O.P. senators who were inspired for years by ExxonMobil lies that climate change is a hoax, and then used that to block our transition to clean energy. But Tlaib still made Putin’s day.

What lifted Putin even more was when he watched Bernie Sanders, House progressive Democrats and the whole G.O.P. last week come together to kill a bill backed by President Biden and the Democratic leadership to streamline the permitting process for domestic energy projects, particularly permitting for gas pipelines and wind and solar transmission lines — one of our biggest impediments to a stable green transition.

Hard to know who is worse, the progressives who did not understand how much solar and wind energy require quicker transmission permitting to safely scale clean energy or the Republicans, who knew oil and gas companies need quicker pipeline permitting to grow gas production, but killed it so Biden would not have another success. As Joe Manchin, a fossil fuel-friendly Democrat who championed the bill, put it: “What I didn’t expect is that Mitch McConnell, my Republican friends, would be signing up with Bernie or trying to get the same outcome by not passing permitting reform.”

All in all, Putin had a bad month in Ukraine — but a good month in the U.S. Congress.

This is not complicated, folks: Do you want to make a point or do you want to make a difference? If we want to make a difference, we need to maximize our energy security, natural security and economic security, all at once. The only way to do that effectively is to incentivize our market to produce a stable and secure supply of energy, with the lowest possible emissions at the lowest possible costs as fast as possible.

The only truly effective way to do that is with a strong price signal — either taxes on dirty stuff or incentives for clean stuff — plus steadily increasing clean energy standards for power generation along the lines proposed by Hal Harvey and Justin Gillis in their new book “The Big Fix: Seven Practical Steps to Save Our Planet.

As long as we are not ready to do that, we’re just faking it, indulging in virtue signaling on the left and the right — and Putin and M.B.S. are laughing all the way to the bank.”  -30-

Joseph Curtin | We Can Kick Our Coal-Burning Addiction. Here Are Some Ideas. – The New York Times

Dr. Curtin is the managing director for power and climate at the Rockefeller Foundation

“To avert worsening climate disasters, all sectors of the economy must be transformed by midcentury. But one task is more urgent than all others: the rapid phase-down of planet-warming emissions from coal-fired power plants in emerging economies.

The world’s leaders are failing badly in meeting this goal. Burning coal for electricity is the single largest source of global greenhouse gas emissions. Every year it accounts for about 10 billion tons of carbon dioxide — more than 70 percent of global fossil fuel emissions from electricity generation.

And we’re continuing to move in the wrong direction. Since 1990, the world has doubled its emissions from coal-fired power. There are now more than 6,500 plants. At least an additional 941 are planned. According to our calculations at the Rockefeller Foundation, combined, they would emit 273 billion tons of carbon dioxide if allowed to operate for their normal operational lifetime of about 40 years — which is equivalent to nearly eight years of all carbon dioxide pollution globally. These emissions would presage humanitarian crises that can scarcely be imagined for the world’s most vulnerable communities.

We need to stop building coal plants immediately and cut coal emissions in roughly half by 2030 to keep global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius, or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, above preindustrial levels. That is the upper limit for warming set by the United Nations to avoid escalating climate risks. We must also accelerate the replacement of existing coal plants with clean power, which will unlock the potential to decarbonize transportation, buildings and industry. Innovative political and financial solutions are emerging. The question is: Will we harness them?”

Get Ready for Another Energy Price Spike: High Electric Bills – The New York Times

“Already frustrated and angry about high gasoline prices, many Americans are being hit by rapidly rising electricity bills, compounding inflation’s financial toll on people and businesses.

The national average residential electricity rate was up 8 percent in January from a year earlier, the biggest annual increase in more than a decade. The latest figures, from February, show an almost 4 percent annual rise, reaching the highest level for that month and approaching summer rates, which are generally the most expensive.

In Florida, Hawaii, Illinois and New York, rates are up about 15 percent, according to the Energy Department’s latest figures. Combined with a seasonal increase in the use of electricity as people turn on air-conditioners, the higher rates will leave many people paying a lot more for power this summer than they did last year.”

More big-tech billionaires backing next-gen nuclear startups — ANS / Nuclear Newswire

“The trend of big-tech billionaires of Silicon Valley investing in next-generation nuclear energy startup companies continues. In a March 22 article on the Bloomberg website, Lizette Chapman, of the site’s venture capital group, writes that these investors view nuclear power as “a solution to both cutting carbon emissions and weaning the world off now-controversial Russian gas.”

According to the article, venture funding for startups focusing on nuclear energy reached a peak in 2021, with an investment amount that year of $3.4 billion. That amount compares with $381 million in 2020 and only $131 million back in 2012.”

Source: More big-tech billionaires backing next-gen nuclear startups — ANS / Nuclear Newswire

How the Recoil From Russian Gas Is Scrambling World Markets – The New York Times

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/04/04/business/russia-europe-natural-gas.html

Stanley Reed, a longtime global energy correspondent, reported this article from London.

Sign up for the Russia-Ukraine War Briefing.  Every evening, we’ll send you a summary of the day’s biggest news. Get it sent to your inbox.

“Just months ago, Germany’s plans to build a terminal for receiving shiploads of liquefied natural gas were in disarray. Would-be developers were not convinced customers would make enough use of a facility that can cost billions of dollars. And concerns about climate change undermined the future of a fossil fuel like natural gas.

Perceptions have changed. After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the Kremlin’s threats to sever fuel supplies, the government in Berlin has decided it needs these massive facilities — as many as four of them — to wean the country off Russian gas and act as a lifeline in case Moscow turns off the taps. The cost to the taxpayer now seems to be a secondary consideration.”

Dennis Blair and Joseph Dunford Jr. | Ukraine’s Russia Crisis Reveals the West’s False Sense of Energy Security – The New York Times

“. . . . Are the United States and its allies adequately focused on the risks of today’s energy reality? Have they positioned themselves for a future in which they have ready access to the raw materials essential to emerging technologies?

The answer is no — they are at risk of being usurped by adversaries. And perhaps the biggest threat ahead is China. The United States and its allies are making strides to harness diverse and clean energy sources like wind, solar and hydrogen. They are smartly deploying electric vehicles to end our dependence on oil and its market-controlling cartel. Increases in battery efficiency are helping to encourage both trends.

But the danger of the electric vehicle transition especially is that it will convert America’s current vulnerability to oil and gas markets to dependence on a supply chain for critical minerals for advanced batteries that is now controlled by and flows through China.

Over a decade ago, China made a strategic decision to corner the world of electrification. It made substantial investments in the manufacture of batteries and the assembly of electric vehicles, as well as in the mining and processing of minerals vital for E.V.s.

Electric vehicle batteries at a workshop in Nanjing, in the Jiangsu Province of China.

Credit…Xu Congjun/VCG, via Getty Images

As of 2020, Chinese firms controlled more than 60 percent of the world’s lithium and nickel refining and over 70 percent of cobalt refining, according to a report prepared by the consulting firm Roland Berger for SAFE, the energy security group that one of us chairs. These are essential for lithium ion batteries used in electric vehicles. The same report found that U.S. companies account for only 4 percent of lithium, 1 percent of nickel and zero percent of cobalt refining. Further along this supply chain, Chinese companies produce 41 percent of the cathodes and 71 percent of the anodes used in E.V. batteries. The United States produces essentially none of these key components.

The bottom line is that the United States now depends heavily on supply chains from nations that do not share our interests and values. Policymakers must heed this risk or risk being held hostage by these nations.”   . . .

David Lindsay: Excellent opinion piece. Here are the two top comments, I also recommended.

The Poet McTeagle
CaliforniaFeb. 22
Times Pick

It’s not just EV assembly and battery cell manufacturing. It’s everything else, like robot manufacturing, because robots make the EVs. Also all the bolts, washers, other parts and computer chips and paint and everything else that makes robots and EVs. Offshoring all manufacturing to China was a really bad idea in the first place. It happened because Big Money saw big profits to be made. Those in government went along with Big Money, because it’s Big Money that controls our government.

11 Replies524 Recommended

Chris commented February 22

Chris
Times Pick

It’s not that we can’t. It’s that we don’t. We don’t build stuff anymore. The real problem seems related to how corporate america likes to manage businesses. Building products, innovating is difficult business. It’s tricky, doesn’t always pan out, and can often result in lower profit margins. Senior managers in this country want 20% growth with 60% profit margins. They want low capital investment. That’s why we have silicon valley and social media companies. That’s why we’re so good at advertising. It’s isn’t the natural competitive advantage of nations. But rather the culture of executive leadership and risk tolerance in capital markets that drives this. Executives and investors in Chinese companies do not have these constraints. At some point wall street has to get back to investing in boring companies that build stuff.

15 Replies400 Recommended

Admiral Blair and General Dunford | Ukraine’s Russia Crisis Reveals the West’s False Sense of Energy Security – The New York Times

Dennis C. Blair and 

Admiral Blair, who retired from the Navy in 2002, was a director of national intelligence in the Obama administration and served as commander in chief of the U.S. Pacific Command. General Dunford was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the Obama and Trump administrations. Before that, he served as commandant of the Marines.

“Russia’s belligerence against Ukraine is underscoring once again the inextricable link between national security and energy security. Today, Russia is flexing its energy dominance over a dependent Europe. But tomorrow, the danger may come from China and its control over the raw materials that are key to a clean energy future.

The United States and its allies must ensure that doesn’t happen.

In recent years America has been lulled into a false sense of energy independence. The shale revolution of the past decade has generated incredible supplies of vital natural gas and oil. European countries, blessed with diverse economies, have also felt relatively secure in recent years. But that is changing.

Germany now depends on Russian suppliers for as much as two-thirds of its natural gas and the European Union for about 40 percent. And as it phases out its nuclear power plants by year’s end, Germany, Europe’s largest economic force, has appeared more hesitant than its peers to forcefully confront the Kremlin. Moscow sees Europe’s energy dependence for what it is: a supply chain dynamic it can control and exploit at will.”