Saturday , July 13 2024
Home / Energy / Or, to put it another way

Or, to put it another way

There is something deeply immoral about last week’s bright green story about European wind electricity generation overtaking gas for the first time.  There again, there is something deeply immoral about self-identifying “green” organisations which put corporate interests ahead of the lives of millions of ordinary people.  Because that, in the end, is what the story boils down to.  In the predictably unconscious version of the story, we have witnessed a near miracle which has brought us much closer to the fabled “energy transition.”  Some outlets, however, at least noted that there might be a deeper context for this:

“After Russia invaded Ukraine, exports of natural gas to Europe dwindled.  The drop-off sparked fears of a resurgence of coal, and it prompted the building of new infrastructure to import liquefied natural gas from overseas.

“But by ramping up wind and solar and tamping down on demand, Europe avoided a surge in coal burning and kept the use of natural gas in check.  Altogether, renewables generated nearly half of Europe’s power last year, while fossil fuels supplied roughly a third, and nuclear around a quarter.”

“Tamping down on demand” is an interesting way of describing what amounts to the irreversible deindustrialisation of the continent and the impoverishment of millions of its people, as a consequence of self-sanctioning of cheap Russian gas, oil, and mineral resources… although this was only the latest self-inflicted injury on an economy which, according to Mike Shedlock at Mish Talk has been in steep decline since 2017:

Shedlock points to a prolonged lack of investment which caused Germany – Europe’s manufacturing powerhouse – to fall behind its competitors:

“Not only is Germany seriously lagging on AI, EVs, microchips, phones, and the interment, the Greens came along and demanded Germany scrap nuclear power.  Former chancellor Angela Merkel hopped on the green bandwagon.  Instead of investing in infrastructure, Germany invested in silly green projects and scrapped nuclear power for no good reason.  Now, Germany is making foreign direct investment in China, a country still heavily reliant on Coal.”

This final statement applies to the ironic collapse of a once-prosperous German wind turbine industry which, as a consequence of sanctions on cheap energy and resources, has been offshored, leaving Europe dependent upon coal-based wind turbine manufacture in China to supply the technology for its supposedly “green” transition.

The cold fallout from Europe’s economic self-harm has also been felt here in the UK, where – at considerable cost – the lights have been kept on using American and middle eastern (including repackaged Russian) LNG passing through the terminal in west Wales.  Although the LNG has prevented an absolute shortage of gas this winter, its high price has rendered heavy industrial and agricultural use too expensive.  So that, with the closure of blast furnaces in Port Talbot and Scunthorpe, for example, the UK is set to become the first G7 country no longer able to produce its own steel.  Meanwhile, in less spectacular fashion the high cost of electricity and gas in the UK has resulted in the highest level of business bankruptcies since records began in 1993.

Whether the collapse of the industrial economy is a price worth paying is moot, since global production of heavy oil is in terminal decline, while the lighter oil produced by fracking cannot be used to power the ships, trucks and planes that keep the global economy running.  Indeed, Russia is probably the last place left on the planet with the ability to produce the cheap hydrocarbons that Europe’s way of life depends upon.  But having – probably permanently – burned our bridges with the Russians – along with around 75 percent of the world’s non-western states – non-renewable renewable energy-harvesting technologies (NRREHTs) – along with a lot of the dirtiest lignite coal – are about the only energy sources Europe will have access to by the end of the decade.

Not, of course, that you are going to hear about any of this from an establishment media which – either by laziness or collusion – continues to reference the accelerationist psychopaths at the World Economic Forum, whose latest attempt at lulling the masses back to unconsciousness is the promise that:

“The world has a ‘real chance’ of achieving the goal of tripling renewable energy capacity agreed at COP28, but will need to go even further to achieve this target.”

Which sounds great until you remember that wind and solar provide the only low-carbon energy growth.  Nuclear power plants are being retired faster than they can be rebuilt – a particular problem in Europe where a lack of expertise doubles the cost and construction time compared to China.  And there are few locations left for grid-scale hydroelectric dams.  Furthermore, since wind and solar provide a tiny fraction of the energy provided by fossil fuels, even a tripling will barely dent our need for coal, gas, and oil.

This is implicit in the statement from the International Energy Agency which the WEF article is based upon:

“Clean sources of generation are set to cover all of the world’s additional electricity demand over the next three years.”

This though, is an all-else-remaining-the-same projection which does not factor in the very likely globally synchronised recession of the mid-2020s, during which the deployment of NRREHTs will be curtailed as over-indebted states can no longer provide the subsidies required to make them worthwhile to the “green” corporations that profit from them.  Even this though, is a trivial problem compared to the main point in the IEA statement, which – if we word it properly for them, and in keeping with past experience – is that NRREHTs will only meet the increased demand for energy in a growing global economy.  That is, they will not replace – and until now have not replaced – a single joule of hydrocarbon energy.  And insofar as European states like Germany and the UK have managed to lower their emissions, it is because they switched from coal to gas along with offshoring all of their most polluting manufacturing activities.

Green growth was always a myth which – either through delusion or design – the European elites tried to sell to the masses.  However, anyone paying attention could see that climate change was just one of the looming crises for the twenty-first century, and that energy and resource depletion would be a greater and more proximate problem for an industrial and financialised civilisation which has no steady state – if it cannot grow, it must collapse.

The problem at this point is that we have no historical precedent from which we might model a collapse.  Previous civilisations collapsed from a far lower standard of living and a far less complex economy.  So that all we can learn from them is what our final destination will look like – most likely something akin to the Anglo-Saxon economy but with localised use of machinery and guns.  How – and especially how rapidly – we get from here to there though, is a complete unknown.  However, insofar as we have traded resilience for complexity, there is good reason to believe that our – that is, the European economies – fall from grace will be fast.

Following a rapid collapse, we will at least be able to celebrate the fact that wind and water will be providing 100 percent of the energy consumed in our post-industrial economy… something which will no doubt take our minds off a life expectancy which will have fallen below thirty.

As you made it to the end…

you might consider supporting The Consciousness of Sheep.  There are seven ways in which you could help me continue my work.  First – and easiest by far – please share and like this article on social media.  Second follow my page on FacebookThird follow my channel on YouTubeFourth, sign up for my monthly e-mail digest to ensure you do not miss my posts, and to stay up to date with news about Energy, Environment and Economy more broadly.  Fifth, if you enjoy reading my work and feel able, please leave a tip. Sixth, buy one or more of my publications. Seventh, support me on Patreon.

Check Also


But by the end of 2018, all oil production was in decline. Even without the lockdowns, we would have had a recession...