Observing the renewable energy transition from a European perspective

Archive for the month “August, 2014”

Syria, Ukraine & Natural Gas


Pepe Escobar explains the origin of the conflict in Syria from a competition between Qatar and Iran about who could build a pipeline for European markets, sourced from the largest gasfield in the world, Pars, partitioned between Qatar and Iran. Syria had preference for a pipeline Iran-Iraq-Syria-Mediterranean, so Iran could sell gas from Iran, where Qatar insisted on a pipeline Qatar-Syria-Turkey, so Qatar could sell gas from Qatar. Obviously, Turkey and Iran’s arch-enemy Washington backed Qatar. If Syria had its way, the EU could be provided with gas for 45% from Russia & Iran, which meant tight European integration into Eurasia, which was unacceptable for the strategists in Washington. So the plan was to overthrow Assad and install a moderate Muslim Brotherhood sort of regime, which would have enabled the Qatar-Turkey ‘Sunny’ pipeline. As things stand now however, neither of both pipelines are going to be build any time soon.


Escobar is much less convincing when he suggests that the Ukrainian fracking potential was the determining factor in the conflict. He even suggests that ethnic cleansing is the undeclared goal, so fracking can commence unhindered. It is unlikely that Europe would support regime change in Ukraine to get fracking started and at the same time jeopardize the far greater volumes of fossil fuel from Russia than Ukraine can ever hope to offer. Realistically, the regime change was prepared years in advance, long before the fracking craze began in the US. In truth it was all about weakening Russia by stealing an ancient satellite from Moscow and mostly initiated by Washington. The EU empire builders were indeed also eyeing Ukraine and were willing to exploit the Maidan demonstrations for a rapprochement Brussels-Kiev, if it could be achieved ‘on the cheap’, without antagonizing Russia too much. But as things stand now, particularly Germany has second thoughts and would like to dump the Ukrainian project altogether.


Countries Depending on Russian Gas



Energy Neutral Home

Dutch language video about how an existing normal home can be turned into an energy neutral home. It’s not difficult and can be done in twelve days.

Read more…

Yats Wants Gas From Russia


“Ukraine needs to purchase additional five billion cubic meters of gas from Russia for the forthcoming winter season“, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said Friday.

Can Ukraine now survive without Russian gas? No, it can’t. How much Russian gas do we need to buy? About 5 billion cubic meters,” he said in an interview with Ukrainian TV channels.

He said that three-party gas talks, involving Ukraine, Russia and the European Union, are scheduled to take place next month.

I hope there will be some final stage to these talks,” he said.

He added that Kiev had reserved $3.1 billion for gas purchases in the National Bank of Ukraine.

On June 16, Russian gas giant Gazprom introduced a prepayment system for gas deliveries to Ukraine amid a dispute with Kiev over its $4.5 billion gas debt. The European Commission and Gazprom anticipate problems in winter, when Kiev is likely to run out of its own gas reserves. …

[] – Kiev Says Ukraine Needs 5 Bln Cubic Meters of Russian Gas for Winter

Editor: we predict that a possible delivery of the desired amount of gas will come with an additional non-financial price tag, if the gas will be delivered at all. We also predict that Russia will deliver fuel to Donbass at fire sale prices, giving the rest of the Ukraine something to think about. Like: “what again is the value of being a member of the western sphere of influence if we are freezing in our homes?

DOE: Price Wind Electricity With 2.5c/KWh At All-Time Low


According to a new report by the US Department of Energy and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, utility-scale wind power in new (2013) projects can produce electricity for a price of 2.5 dollar cent/KWh. As a reminder of what a KWh really represents: one man-day of hard physical labor, like lifting a car to the top of the Eiffel tower:

eiffel-tower-kwh-transparent[source – page 19]

With wind energy you can accomplish this job for 2.5c.

Key findings report:

  • Wind is a credible source of new generation in the U.S.
  • Turbine scaling is improving wind project performance
  • Falling wind turbine pricing continues to reduce installed project costs
  • Supply chain and import/export balance is recovering

Conclusion: in the long term the world does not really has an energy problem and does not need fossil fuel. The real problem is in the short and mid term, namely that the world could run out of (cheap) fossil fuel, before a new renewable energy base has been installed, causing an enormous ‘civilizational dip’, that could have been prevented if the world would have reacted fast enough. But it looks as if the world will not react fast enough. In fact, there were credible warnings as early as 1972 with the release of the report of the Club of Rome (‘Limit to Growth‘).


The Shale Bubble


[] – Wall Street’s Shale ‘Fraud’ Exposed

270 Years of Consumer Price Index

The breaking point is 1913, the year of the creation of the Federal Reserve. Since then endless new money has been pumped into the world financial system, all against interest.

End the FED, end the dollar, end US hegemony (or should we say: hegemoney?) and end the world’s prime source of instability.
Get rid of your dollars by buying something of value, preferably precious metals.

Iran Backs Nabucco

Click to enlarge. The green pipeline within red ellipse is the planned but controversial Nabucco pipeline.

As of late, Russian-Irainian relations were intensifying: there was a power deal worth up to $10 billion, including new thermal and hydroelectric plants and a transmission network. And the barter trade oil-for-goods, according to which Russia may buy 500,000 barrels of Iranian oil a day. All much to the dismay of Washington.

However, now that Russia is itself under US and EU sanctions, and the West perhaps needs to see Iran as the lesser evil, now that ISIS is on the march, Tehran smells the chance to improve relations with Europe and position Iran as an alternative for Russian natural gas, knowing well that Europe sought to diversify its supply even before the Western engineered Ukrainian stand-off. Russia and Iran both have about the same reserves: 33 trillion m3. A logical route for transporting natural gas from Iran to Europe would be via Turkey. The alternative, the Friendship Pipeline, planned shortly before the Syrian civil war began, would connect the South Pars field, the largest natural gas field in the world, to the Mediterranean via Iraq and Syria. Obviously construction of such a pipeline is impossible under the current circumstances. Some claim that the outbreak of the civil war in Syria (begin anti-Assad protests March 2011, armed conflict started in September 2011) was related to the plan.

Iran is now in a difficult position. On the one hand it doesn’t want to spoil its good relationship with Russia, on the other hand Iran needs development and opportunities to sell its natural gas. And Iran knows that Europe wants to diversify and is anxious to invest in Iran provided a deal could be made. And that investment to the tune of $200 billion would be highly necessary to be able to deliver gas to Europe. In this respect Iran is lagging way behind Russia, meaning that Iranian gas is not going to replace Russian gas any time soon.

But then, out of the blue, Iran’s Deputy Oil Minister Ali Mejidi dropped the bombshell on August 11, by suggesting that “with Nabucco, Iran can provide Europe with gas. We are the best alternative to Russia.” It is not impossible that the US signaled Iran that benefits would be waiting if it would begin to promote the pet western pipeline project. For Iran this would mean business and some guarantee that the country could move itself out of the line of fire and have normalized relations with the West. Obviously this would come at the expense of Russia, although only in the long term, where South Stream could start to produce as early as by the end of next year, provided the stand-off and sanction baloney can be reversed quickly. Iran is the only country able to provide the necessary ‘content’ to the projected Nabucco pipeline. It could be in this light that bogeyman Iran could leave the ‘axis of evil’ in the future and is going to be replaced by Russia and ISIS as the new villains.

[] – Pepe Escobar, Energy ballet: Iran, Russia and ‘Pipelineistan’
[] – Mike Whitney, Did Iran Just Knife Putin in the Back?

Energy Facts – Energie Feiten

We are sorry to learn that the excellent site Energy Facts will disappear by the end of 2014. Not sure if this applies to the original Dutch version as well. Regardless, here are the Dutch and English Word documents that mirror both the Dutch and English websites:

energie-feiten (Word document in Dutch)
energy-facts (Word document in English)

The site gives information from the the standpoint of an engineer and is excellent in offering a sense of proportion in all matters related to energy.

Young People No Longer Need to Own a Car

There was a massive 5% year-to-year decline of car ownership under young people in the Netherlands. Unemployment plays a big role, plus the fact that increasingly young people live in cities, where you don’t really need a car. And it is not strictly necessary that car ownership in the young segment will increase once the economy will expand again (if that is going to happen at all). Car sales in the Netherlands have fallen back to 1969 levels lately. An interesting aspect in this story is the rise of social media, email and chat programs. These days it is possible to ‘keep in touch’ without actually physically visiting a person. Young people may abandon the car (ownership rather), but they all are online with the latest gadgets. A smart phone is more important than owning a car. The car is no longer a status symbol and must have. A drivers license however is still important, which gives access to car driving, via car sharing or renting.


South Stream Construction Halted Again

It looks like we overestimated Bulgaria when it announced it would resume construction of the planned South-Stream pipeline. Apparently the Bulgarian government caved in again under pressure from Washington/Brussels and betrayed their own population by running the severe risk to experience very cold winters in the near future, not to mention the complete breakdown of its economy.

Construction of four parallel 32 inch pipelines, 931 km long, started in December 2012 in Anapa in the Krasnodar Territory in Russia. On October 31, 2013 the first joint was welded at South Stream’s Bulgarian section near the Rasovo CS site. On November 24, 2013 the construction of South Stream’s Serbian section started in the vicinity of Sajkas village, South Backa District. The pipeline could be completed in 2015, provided Europe gets rid of serial war monger John McCain, who tells Europe that the pipeline should not be build (so Europe can remain an American colony a little longer). But who cares about what John McCain thinks?

[] – Bulgaria halts South Stream gas pipeline project for second time
[] – Bulgaria Halts South Stream Pipeline Again As NATO F-15s, Troops Arrive
[wikipedia] – South Stream
[] – South Stream
[] – South Stream gas pipeline construction started up


China’s High-Speed Rail Network in 2020

If you define high-speed as 200 khm or higher, China will have a network of 25,000 km (16,000 mi) by 2020.

[wikipedia] – High-speed rail in China

Situation Europe 2013. For 2020 a high-speed network is planned of 15,000 km [source].

[wikipedia] – High-speed rail in Europe

Ukraine Wants to Block Oil & Gas Transit to Europe

We could not begin to describe our luck when we learned that Ukrainian coup-plotter and sock puppet of the US State Department, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, has threatened that he could block oil & gas transit to Europe. Go for it, Yats! If you do it, president Putin does not need to do it, so your miserable country will get the full blame for the economic disaster that would result of it for (notably Eastern) Europe. Obviously Yatsenyuk has said this as a mouthpiece for Washington, that would love to see Russia deprived of a large chunk of its income and to see (Eastern) European industry crippled. Currently, Europe gets 30% of its gas from Russia, with 50% via Ukraine. But this amount of gas is very unevenly distributed over European countries and Eastern European countries would be hardest hit, see map above for details. Bulgaria already sees the writing on the wall and decided to ignore the Washington/Brussels ukase and gave the green light to South-Stream anyway. Talking about ignoring US proxy EU, that’s always a good idea. The EU had its chance and blew it on the very moment it started to support the US instigated Maidan coup, aimed at hurting both Europe and Russia.

Spineless European dummies playing Maidan revolutionaries in the hope to add basket-case Ukraine to their EU empire and ruining relations with Russia in the process. Europe has no credible leadership..

The EU has betrayed Europe and refused or was unable to provide real leadership and preferred to hide behind Washington’s back and outsourced the guardianship of Europe’s best interests to that party that could not care less about European best interests (“Fuck the EU”). So now Europe gets what it deserves. It has smashed the windows of the only reliable gas station Europe had: Russia. So don’t be surprised if the owner of the gas station has second thoughts about delivering fuel to the window smashers.

The European president, is this beta male cute or what? Pull the cord and it will start to shine.

Russia does not need to sell fuel to Europe, regardless of how much the Europeans like think that Russia has no options but to sell to Europe. The world is running out of fossil fuel fast and is unprepared for the dire consequences, so Russia will always be able to sell its fuel to the highest bidder. Every barrel of oil that Russia does not sell now, it can sell in the future against a higher price. And now that Jihadis are paving the way for the coming Caliphate, supply of fossil fuel from the Middle East to Europe gets more uncertain with every passing day. This is a good time for Russia to bridge the coming inevitable economic downturn, for both Europe and Russia, and dump a large part of its excess dollar reserves, while it still has value, to those dummies who have yet to understand that the days of the dollar are numbered. The West has no military options either. Even if the West were able to mobilize an army and invade the Ukraine, a big if, this army would be nuked with tactical weapons the very moment it would dare to cross the Russian border. But the European population can’t be mobilized for a war against Russia over the Ukraine. And besides, Europe hardly has an army worth speaking of, a state of affairs that urgently needs to change after the West has been liquidated and that moment is not far off.

But again, if Ukraine wants to do Russia the favor of halting fuel transits over its territory, please go ahead and deprive European ‘leaders’ of the opportunity to blame Russia and instead has a difficult new job of having to explain to the European population why Ukraine is so important as an ally, to the tune that Europe will sit in the dark and the industry will be in a state of depression because of lack of fuel from Russia. Then the value of being a member of the West will become plain to see for all: namely zero.

EU-Russian trade effectively destroyed by Washington’s adventurism in Ukraine. Who is the enemy again?



German Solar Feed-in Tariffs Wildly Successful

Evolution of renewable energy as a share of total electricity production in Germany.

There is a new report out by the Brattle Group that evaluates a decade of German experience with solar energy, see link below.

Today, Germany has 35 gigawatts (GW) of installed solar capacity and is on track to hit 52 GW in the near future, representing about 7 percent of the nation’s wholesale generation.


[] – report

Chinese Energy Import Patterns 2011

energy china import countries 2011[source]
Note extreme Chinese vulnerability with most energy shipping destined for China passing the Strait of Malacca.

[] – Why China wants control of the South China Sea in 10 charts
[] – Fueling the New World Order: where does China import its crude oil from?

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