How Europe’s Wind Problem Is Raising the Price for Natural Gas

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China: Two Roads Diverged in a Polluted Wood

I couldn’t help noticing this every interesting tweet from Bloomberg News yesterday, because who could have ever guessed that carbon dioxide, that supposed bane of our existence that the climate alarm lobby assures us is going to burn down the world in the next – what is it now – 10 years, is actually very important to food production? Man, you learn something new every day, right?

Anyway, sarcasm aside, here’s an excerpt from that Bloomberg story:

The U.K. government said it will provide “limited financial support” to help CF Industries Holdings Inc. restart fertilizer production hit by a gas crunch, in a bid to ease a shortage of carbon dioxide that’s crucial for the food industry.

The deal will allow CF Industries to restart operations at its plant in Billingham, northeast England, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said late Tuesday in a statement. The government said it will provide financial support to help cover the plant’s operating costs for three weeks, giving the CO2 market time to adapt to higher global gas prices, it said.

[End]

The “gas” in that last sentence refers not to gasoline at the pump, but to natural gas, the price for which has risen dramatically over the last year. In the context of this story, it’s very important to understand why the price for natural gas has jumped in 2021, because it tells the tale of the utter futility of following the climate alarmist narrative.

The price for gas in Europe has jumped mainly for one reason: Over-reliance on wind in power generation by EU countries like Germany, the UK and others. See, the thing about wind is that it doesn’t generate any electricity at all if the wind won’t blow, and Europe has found itself suffering from a severe shortage of actual wind this year.

That’s a problem for Germany and the UK and these other countries who have spent the last decade drastically over-building wind generation, tying it into their power grids and trying to treat it as if it is reliable, dispatchable baseload generation capacity. At the same time, they have allowed their fleets of coal and natural gas generation capacity – you know, the real, actual baseload – to go dormant or be decommissioned based on this fantasy play.

See also: Irina Slav, There Will Be Blackouts

But wind isn’t baseload. It can’t be that. The laws of physics don’t allow it.

By its very nature, wind power is a variable, intermittent source of energy. The long-promised scalable backup battery storage capacity has failed to materialize despite hundreds of billions, if not trillions of dollars in government subsidies to that sector in this century, leaving all those 500-ft. tall wind towers useless unless the wind happens to be blowing.

But in Europe this year, the wind hasn’t been blowing, and these same governments who have spent the last 20 years demonizing fossil fuels have found themselves desperately authorizing the reactivation of their dormant natural gas power plants so people can enjoy electricity. You know, that vitally important aspect of our modern existence that enables us to live 21st century lives.

Sounds a lot like California, doesn’t it? Why yes, yes it does. Gavin Newsom this year has found himself having to do this exact same thing in his state as all the giant windmills and all the massive solar farms have failed to meet their big promises of an energy future filled with unicorns and sugarplum fairies made to the Golden State.

And guess what else, fellow Texans? If Greg Abbott and the Republicans who dominate our state politics right now don’t take action to ensure somebody, anybody, builds a bunch of additional baseload capacity on our own power grid very soon, this is what Texas is going to look like in a very short number of years, as we continue to drastically over-build and over-rely on wind power.

Anyway, this all has created a dramatic increase of demand for natural gas in Europe, a demand that these countries’ Russian suppliers have not been able to fill for various reasons, both real and political. These countries largely lack their own gas production, so their alternative to Mother Russia is to import vast quantities of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) from overseas, in this case mainly the United States and Qatar.

So, in keeping with the laws of basic economics unimpeded by the socialism preferred by the EU and many American Democrats, as the demand for natural gas has jumped, so has the price for the commodity. Who could’ve seen that coming, huh? This story is just chock-full of “surprises” that should not have surprised anyone.

Smart politicians who really cared about the well-being of their people would take all of this as an object lesson, and that lesson is this: There is nothing inherently wrong with wind power. It is a fine source of power generation, but one that comes with a big catch: It only generates power when the wind is blowing.

It is not baseload capacity and should not be treated as such. Even when the long-promised and never-delivered storage battery technology comes to fruition, it can never truly be treated as real baseload, because those batteries will be only be able to fill in when the wind stops blowing for periods of days as they discharge, while natural gas and coal-fired power plants work 24/7/365.

Do any of you believe that Gavin Newsom or the craven politicians in Germany and the UK will take this object lesson to heart?

Yeah, me neither.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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