Dear Diary. The main purpose of this ongoing blog will be to track global extreme or record temperatures related to climate change. Any reports I see of ETs will be listed below the main topic of the day. I’ll refer to extreme or record temperatures as ETs (not extraterrestrials).😉
Main Topic: Limiting Natural Gas Usage to Hurt Putin
Dear Diary. Today’s post mainly applies to our European friends but has some tips for anyone in the United States to limit their natural gas usage and have a more sustainable lifestyle. I saw this note from Kees van der Leun, who lives in the Netherlands and is an energy expert:
Let’s blow up Kees’ chart so that it is easier to read:
There are probably many more suggestions for both helping our environment and hurting Putin’s awful war effort on Ukraine. If you would like to share these, just leave them in the comments section at the very end of today’s Diary, at the end of the long list of Ukrainian notes.
Just why is Europe so dependent on Russia’s natural gas? For that answer, here is a recent CNBC article:
Why Europe is so dependent on Russia for natural gas
PUBLISHED THU, FEB 24 2022
- The EU is the largest importer of natural gas in the world, according to the Directorate-General for Energy for the EU, with the largest share of its gas coming from Russia (41%).
- The region used to be independent for natural gas, but then the North Sea reserves dried up.
- Europe is also focusing on renewables, but the grid is not yet equipped for intermittent sources like wind and solar to completely fill the gap.
A map shows the course of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany on the exterior of an informational booth close to the receiving station for Nord Stream 2 on February 02, 2022 near Lubmin, Germany. Sean Gallup | Getty Images
Europeans have been suffering under painfully high energy prices in the lead-up to Russia launching an attack on Ukraine on Thursday morning.
Energy prices surged Thursday morning after Russia invaded Ukraine, with international benchmark Brent crude oil surpassing $100 a barrel for the first time since 2014. Natural gas prices were up as much as 6.5% after the invasion and were up almost 2% as of Thursday midday.
And on Tuesday, Germany halted the Nord Stream 2 Baltic Sea gas pipeline project, which was intended to increase the flow of Russian gas directly to Germany.
The European Union is especially dependent on Russian energy, which is becoming increasingly unsustainable.
On Wednesday, The Washington Post reported the European Union is making plans for energy independence from Russia, citing sources who spoke on condition of anonymity. The plan is expected to be announced by the European Commission next week.
So how did the region become so dependent on Putin’s Russia for its energy supplies?
In the 1960s and 1970s, Europe was supplying roughly the same amount of natural gas that it was using, according to Tim Schittekatte, a research scientist at the MIT Energy Initiative and an expert on the European grid and the issues it is facing.
Production of natural gas in Europe decreased because the North Sea gas fields, which are particularly important sources of natural gas production from the U.K. and the Netherlands, were depleted. And later the Netherlands announced they were completely shutting down their Groningen gas fields because of earthquakes.
Over the same period, the EU has been reducing its dependence on coal to reach its climate goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050 and cutting emissions by at least 55% by 2030. Currently, about 20% of EU’s electricity comes from coal production.
Since 2012, the EU has decreased its coal power generation by about a third, according to the Directorate-General for Energy for the EU.
In addition, Germany summarily rejected investments in nuclear energy with its Atomic Energy Act in 2011, a decision made in response to the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011. Only 13% of Europe’s energy now comes from nuclear power.
About 25% of the EU’s energy consumption comes from natural gas, according to the Directorate-General for Energy for the EU. Oil and petroleum (32%), renewable energy and biofuels (18%), and solid fossil fuels (11%) make up the rest.
That dependence on natural gas means a dependence on Russia. Today, the EU is the largest importer of natural gas in the world, according to the Directorate-General for Energy for the EU, with the largest share of its gas coming from Russia (41%), Norway (24%) and Algeria (11%).
“In terms of foreign suppliers, Russian gas was just the cheapest. Rather than diversifying suppliers, routes to import Russian gas were diversified,” Schittekatte told CNBC.
In addition to Russian’s natural gas being the cheapest, the Russian gas reserves were larger than any other nearby sources, Georg Erdmann, the former chair for the Department of Energy Systems at the Institute for Energy Technology at Berlin University of Technology, told CNBC.
For the former German Democratic Republic (East Germany), “Russian gas and oil where the only affordable energy imports,” Erdmann told CNBC. “Until today Russia fulfilled all long term contracts…. So the gas industry assumes Russia to be a rather reliable commercial partner.”
Although the EU is highly dependent on Russian natural gas, overall demand for natural gas in the region peaked in 2010.
The EU has been focusing on its buildout of renewable sources. But the buildout isn’t happening fast enough to eliminate that foreign dependence.
That’s partly because the EU’s energy infrastructure is not set up to handle the intermittency of renewable energy — it’s hard to store energy from renewables for times when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow. A number of solutions are being developed for this problem, including large-scale utility batteries and “green” hydrogen (generated from renewable resources then stored and transported before being burned for actual fuel consumption), but those solutions aren’t at scale yet.
The EU renewable strategy has largely depended on smaller solar installations by consumers, said Peter Sobotka, the founder and CEO of Corinex, a company specializing in improving the efficiency of European energy distribution networks
“This model requires huge investments to the grid to essentially move excess energy where it’s needed in real time, to keep energy costs low for the end-user,” he told CNBC.
“There is simply not enough grid capacity now to take up more renewables in some parts of Europe, e.g. Spain and the Netherlands,” Schittekatte said.
Some utilities are aware of the problem. E.ON, a utility in Germany, has started a €22 billion investment over the next five years to upgrade and digitize its energy distribution networks. “In light of the Ukraine crisis, these plans may be coming in a bit late,” Sobotka said.
Also, the permitting process is slow, and in certain instances, there is public opposition, “the so-called NIMBY issue,” Schittekatte said.
In some cases, renewable buildout in EU requires nations to cooperate, which can cause slowdowns as well.
“The bulk of renewable electricity should come from the North Sea via offshore wind but the difficulty with that is that is requires multilateral cooperation — all the North Sea bordering states should ideally work together,” Schittekatte said.
In the immediate future, Erdmann says Europe has enough energy, with gas storage facilities in Germany 30% full.
“This is less than in former years at the end of the heating season, but sufficient,” Erdmann told CNBC.
Here are some “ET” reports from Saturday and Sunday:
Here is some more February 2022 climatology:
Here is more climate and weather news from Sunday:
(As usual, this will be a fluid post in which more information gets added during the day as it crosses my radar, crediting all who have put it on-line. Items will be archived on this site for posterity. In most instances click on the pictures of each tweet to see each article. The most noteworthy items will be listed first.)
Now here are some of today’s articles and notes on Putin’s horrid war against Ukraine:
(If you like these posts and my work please contribute via the PayPal widget, which has recently been added to this site. Thanks in advance for any support.)
Guy Walton “The Climate Guy”