European energy policy

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European energy policy

Post by Woodchopper » Tue Mar 08, 2022 7:40 am

Thought this subject would deserve its own thread:

EU Aims to Cut Russia Gas Dependence by Almost 80% This Year

The European Union’s executive arm is mapping out a path to end the bloc’s reliance on Russian gas that could see import needs cut by almost 80% this year, according to two officials with knowledge of the matter.

The European Commission is revising its energy strategy after President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine in an effort to reduce the Kremlin’s leverage. The plan, to be presented Tuesday, will propose steps such as tapping new gas supplies and increasing energy efficiency already this year, one of the officials said, and aims to deliver independence from the region’s biggest supplier of the fossil fuel well before 2030 -- sooner than previous projections.

For the plan to have a chance of succeeding, it will need action from member states, many of whom were already uncomfortable with the investment required for the commission’s energy-transition plans and are now struggling to contain the political impact of spiking energy costs.

[…]

The European Union’s executive arm is mapping out a path to end the bloc’s reliance on Russian gas that could see import needs cut by almost 80% this year, according to two officials with knowledge of the matter.

The European Commission is revising its energy strategy after President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine in an effort to reduce the Kremlin’s leverage. The plan, to be presented Tuesday, will propose steps such as tapping new gas supplies and increasing energy efficiency already this year, one of the officials said, and aims to deliver independence from the region’s biggest supplier of the fossil fuel well before 2030 -- sooner than previous projections.

For the plan to have a chance of succeeding, it will need action from member states, many of whom were already uncomfortable with the investment required for the commission’s energy-transition plans and are now struggling to contain the political impact of spiking energy costs.

[…]

In the weeks before the war, a gas supply crunch sent energy costs to record levels, pushing the issue to the top of the EU agenda. European governments have already spent tens of billions of euros to protect consumers and industries from the impact of the crisis and prices surged again on Monday.

The commission considers that the EU already has sufficient gas to get through the rest of this winter even in the event of an abrupt disruption of Russian supplies, according to people familiar with the assessment. The bloc’s executive arm will recommend that member states start work now on filling up storage tanks so they’re prepared for next winter.

The commission is set to say that accelerating the Green Deal, the bloc’s sweeping strategy aimed at reaching climate neutrality by 2050, will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, cut reliance on imported fossil fuels and shield the economy from price hikes, according to the official, who asked not to be identified, as discussions on the strategy are private. The proposals may still change before they are adopted.

As part of the clean shift, the EU is currently discussing a set of laws to meet a stricter 2030 goal of cutting greenhouse gases by at least 55% from 1990 levels. Full implementation of the “Fit for 55” rules would cut EU gas consumption this decade by 23%, or an equivalent of 82 billion cubic meters (2.9 trillion cubic feet).

Tuesday’s plans will add on higher LNG imports and pipeline supplies from outside Russia, more renewable gases, energy savings and a shift to electrification. Together, that will give the EU the potential to effectively replace the 155 billion cubic meters of gas it currently imports from Russia, with 112 bcm this year.

As much as 50 bcm a year will come from new sources of LNG, 10 bcm will come through pipelines from other suppliers and 20 bcm will come from new wind energy capacity that will reduce the demand for gas-fired power stations.

The push may mean more ambitious 2030 targets for renewables and energy efficiency. The commission is also set to prioritize work on connecting pipelines on the Iberian peninsula with the rest of Europe and joining up Bulgaria and Greece.

[…]

Phasing out Russian oil and coal may be simpler than gas as the EU has a broader range of alternative suppliers if can turn to, the official said.

The EU’s executive arm will provide member states with detailed guidance on how to design measures on regulated prices that would protect retail consumers and the smallest businesses. It will also announce plans for a temporary framework, which will allow liquidity support for companies affected by the crisis. To finance such measures, member states could consider imposing temporary taxes on windfall profits of energy companies.

To ensure the bloc’s depleted gas reserves are replenished, the commission plans to put forward by April a proposal to require existing storage facilities in the EU territory be filled up to at least 90% of their capacity by Oct. 1 each year. With benchmark gas prices for the summer still elevated, the EU will propose increasing the rebate level to 100% as an incentive to refill storage.

The commission will also offer coordination to build up the reserves through joint procurement of gas.
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles ... -this-year

Clearly it would have been better if much more had been done before.

It could be a silver lining if Europe is to accelerate decarbonisation of its energy sector.

Europeans (including Britons) are probably going to have to get used to the current high energy prices. I don’t know how long it’ll take to phase in renewable energy alternatives, but it’ll take many years.

This looks like a major expansion of the role of the EU Commission. Britain is going to struggle to be involved in what will be a continent wide energy strategy. Though I guess that some would see that as a good thing.

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Re: European energy policy

Post by IvanV » Tue Mar 08, 2022 11:28 am

It is useful in this context to look at the primary energy consumption by fuel of Europe. Annoyingly this data series stops in 2017.

EU Primary energy consumption by fuel to 2017

As primary energy consumption, when you burn gas/coal/biofuel to make electricity, that is recorded as gas/coal/biofuel respectively, not electricity. Primary kinds of electricity are nuclear, wind, solar, hydro.

You can see the general downward trend in gas consumption, mainly resulting from efficiency measures. It is about 20% of the primary energy consumption. That's with oil and petroleum products, mainly used for powering vehicles, having such a large share. Gas is the second largest primary energy source in Europe.

It is also useful to think what gas is used for. Space heating is the largest use, with domestic space heating being 40% of it. Industrial usage is the second largest use. So the reduction in gas usage has been driven by efficiency in space heating and reduction of industrial use, despite the increase in the usage for electricity generation.

Although that's the European average, and there are material differences between countries, the mediterranean requiring less space heating, and Poland relying heavily on coal, for example. But Britain is pretty average.

So we can now understand that moving away from gas usage quickly is difficult. The main use is space heating. Reducing demand for that requires many millions to change their heating systems. Also, when you see the relative size of the primary energy usages, you realise that making a reasonable dent in the demand for gas requires some pretty heroic increase in output from something else. Especially with the continuing tendency to want to move away from coal, and an aging nuclear sector with few replacements in construction.

Some British politicians probably foolishly think we don't buy very much Russian gas. But remove/reduce Russian gas in Europe, then the availability of stuff through pipes across the North Sea reduces. It also increases the competition to get hold of gas arriving in tankers from other places.

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Re: European energy policy

Post by Woodchopper » Tue Mar 08, 2022 2:17 pm

IvanV wrote:
Tue Mar 08, 2022 11:28 am

So we can now understand that moving away from gas usage quickly is difficult. The main use is space heating. Reducing demand for that requires many millions to change their heating systems. Also, when you see the relative size of the primary energy usages, you realise that making a reasonable dent in the demand for gas requires some pretty heroic increase in output from something else. Especially with the continuing tendency to want to move away from coal, and an aging nuclear sector with few replacements in construction.
As far as I remember, a lot of the usage in post-Soviet countries is in communal heating - eg an apartment block has a single boiler which is used by everyone. This may make it more difficult to replace gas with another energy source as everyone, or a majority, may need to agree to the change and pay for it.

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Re: European energy policy

Post by Bird on a Fire » Tue Mar 08, 2022 2:39 pm

Yes, swapping Russian gas for other gas might make sense as an immediate sanction on Russia, but isn't sufficient as a long-term strategy.

The large share of gas used for domestic heating and cooking presents an opportunity. The EU is keen on a "Green Recovery" from covid - insulating homes and upgrading cooking and heating facilities is an obvious joined-up win that can help to reduce energy poverty as well as dependence on unpleasant regimes. It was already part of the EU Green Deal, so all they really need to do is put existing proposals on a war footing.

The EU is much better able to control electricity generation than gas, so electrification makes sense from a security as well as a climate perspective.

With the prices of renewables dropping and fossils volatile and increasing, decarbonisation should be a cheaper medium-term strategy than continuing to rely on petrostates. And that's ignoring the fact that there's only 8 years' of business-as-usual carbon budget left to avoid catastrophic climate change, which probably oughtn't be ignored as often as it is: this transition has to happen quickly anyway, and the invasion of Ukraine has just added an extra PR justification to get on with it like they said they would in 2016.

Instead of building gas pipelines, the EU could instead build long-distance connectors. Solar from the south, wind from west and hydro from the north are all relatively stable. The EU Consumer Organisation reckons decarbonisation is the way to secure lower bills for consumers - this isn't just a green dream.

Will be interesting to see what they come up with. Sensible things to look out for will be improving efficiency, electrification and decarbonisation. Silly things will include biofuels, and opening up new sources of fossil fuels (which the International Energy Agency says needs to have stopped last year).

Seeing as this is happening for defence reasons, I'd like to see costs discussed in terms of other forms of military expenditure: how many wind farms per aircraft carrier? How many insulation-fitters per squaddy? How many civilians killed per solar panel?
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Re: European energy policy

Post by Bird on a Fire » Tue Mar 08, 2022 2:41 pm

Woodchopper wrote:
Tue Mar 08, 2022 2:17 pm
IvanV wrote:
Tue Mar 08, 2022 11:28 am

So we can now understand that moving away from gas usage quickly is difficult. The main use is space heating. Reducing demand for that requires many millions to change their heating systems. Also, when you see the relative size of the primary energy usages, you realise that making a reasonable dent in the demand for gas requires some pretty heroic increase in output from something else. Especially with the continuing tendency to want to move away from coal, and an aging nuclear sector with few replacements in construction.
As far as I remember, a lot of the usage in post-Soviet countries is in communal heating - eg an apartment block has a single boiler which is used by everyone. This may make it more difficult to replace gas with another energy source as everyone, or a majority, may need to agree to the change and pay for it.
Although, given the future trajectory of gas prices, and the general sentiment towards Putin in many such areas, that might not be such a hard sell.

Communal heating is much more efficient and might be a sensible model for newbuilds in the EU, along with an EU-wide improvement in minimum efficiency standards.
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Re: European energy policy

Post by Gfamily » Tue Mar 08, 2022 2:46 pm

Bird on a Fire wrote:
Tue Mar 08, 2022 2:41 pm
Woodchopper wrote:
Tue Mar 08, 2022 2:17 pm
IvanV wrote:
Tue Mar 08, 2022 11:28 am

So we can now understand that moving away from gas usage quickly is difficult. The main use is space heating. Reducing demand for that requires many millions to change their heating systems. Also, when you see the relative size of the primary energy usages, you realise that making a reasonable dent in the demand for gas requires some pretty heroic increase in output from something else. Especially with the continuing tendency to want to move away from coal, and an aging nuclear sector with few replacements in construction.
As far as I remember, a lot of the usage in post-Soviet countries is in communal heating - eg an apartment block has a single boiler which is used by everyone. This may make it more difficult to replace gas with another energy source as everyone, or a majority, may need to agree to the change and pay for it.
Although, given the future trajectory of gas prices, and the general sentiment towards Putin in many such areas, that might not be such a hard sell.

Communal heating is much more efficient and might be a sensible model for newbuilds in the EU, along with an EU-wide improvement in minimum efficiency standards.
Communal heating can have its own problems
A housing estate near my parents was built in the early 70's with communal heating, provided courtesy of a deal for cheap coal with the NCB. It was a mining community, so the carbon cost of transport were very low (not that we worried about those things then). Heating wasn't metered, so was included in the rent.

Anyhow, come 1974 and the Oil Crisis, energy costs went sky high, and the only people who could afford it, were people on benefits.
Working families moved away, and council tenants on benefits from other estates were moved in. Result was a massive experiment in concentrating deprivation into one location. Not intended as 'social engineering', but that's what it ended up as.
The result wasn't good.

Not strictly relevant I know, as that was a very different time, but making residents dependent on BIG choices made early doors for the community can cause problems down the line
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Re: European energy policy

Post by IvanV » Tue Mar 08, 2022 2:53 pm

Woodchopper wrote:
Tue Mar 08, 2022 2:17 pm
IvanV wrote:
Tue Mar 08, 2022 11:28 am

So we can now understand that moving away from gas usage quickly is difficult. The main use is space heating. Reducing demand for that requires many millions to change their heating systems. Also, when you see the relative size of the primary energy usages, you realise that making a reasonable dent in the demand for gas requires some pretty heroic increase in output from something else. Especially with the continuing tendency to want to move away from coal, and an aging nuclear sector with few replacements in construction.
As far as I remember, a lot of the usage in post-Soviet countries is in communal heating - eg an apartment block has a single boiler which is used by everyone. This may make it more difficult to replace gas with another energy source as everyone, or a majority, may need to agree to the change and pay for it.
My Czech father-in-law's block of flats did jointly agree to install thick external insulative cladding (not the Grenfell kind) to reduce heat loss. But it was a bit of a struggle. First they insulated the colder north wall, and the short end walls, which gave the highest return. Then a couple of years later they ageed to insulate the remaining warmer south wall, which would produce a smaller saving for the investment. There were a lot of these cladding jobs to blocks of flats happening a few years ago in Czech. So it is possible to do such things. So I acknowledge the general issue. But it does seem to be possible for such collective projects to go ahead. Maybe more than it would do if it was everyone for themselves, given the cost per dwelling unit is likely lower for a block of flats than individual dwellings. And this is standard grade communist period blocks of flats I'm talking about, not posh blocks.

A feature of the recent increase in gas costs is that electricity is now a smaller multiple of the gas cost than previously. So heat pumps are more likely to wash their face in terms of running costs. A little while ago in Britain the elec:gas ratio was 5:1. It's now much nearer to the 3:1 you need for approx running cost parity between gas boilers and heat pumps. Clearly the details of this vary from country to country, according to their detailed energy systems.

It should also cost a fair bit less per dwelling (or per sq m of dwelling) to install a large collective heat pump for a collective heating system, than for individual dwellings to do it. But gas would have to be locally quite expensive in comparison to electricity for the whole thing to represent a financially beneficial project in the long-term. Though you do see fairly widespread installation of heatpumps in some areas of Europe where in practice this is true. Only about 40% of European dwellings have piped gas.

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Re: European energy policy

Post by Bird on a Fire » Tue Mar 08, 2022 2:54 pm

Gfamily wrote:
Tue Mar 08, 2022 2:46 pm
Bird on a Fire wrote:
Tue Mar 08, 2022 2:41 pm
Woodchopper wrote:
Tue Mar 08, 2022 2:17 pm
As far as I remember, a lot of the usage in post-Soviet countries is in communal heating - eg an apartment block has a single boiler which is used by everyone. This may make it more difficult to replace gas with another energy source as everyone, or a majority, may need to agree to the change and pay for it.
Although, given the future trajectory of gas prices, and the general sentiment towards Putin in many such areas, that might not be such a hard sell.

Communal heating is much more efficient and might be a sensible model for newbuilds in the EU, along with an EU-wide improvement in minimum efficiency standards.
Communal heating can have its own problems
A housing estate near my parents was built in the early 70's with communal heating, provided courtesy of a deal for cheap coal with the NCB. It was a mining community, so the carbon cost of transport were very low (not that we worried about those things then). Heating wasn't metered, so was included in the rent.

Anyhow, come 1974 and the Oil Crisis, energy costs went sky high, and the only people who could afford it, were people on benefits.
Working families moved away, and council tenants on benefits from other estates were moved in. Result was a massive experiment in concentrating deprivation into one location. Not intended as 'social engineering', but that's what it ended up as.
The result wasn't good.

Not strictly relevant I know, as that was a very different time, but making residents dependent on BIG choices made early doors for the community can cause problems down the line
For sure - I think this is why campaign groups have a strong focus on a "just transition". Doing things communally requires planning how to protect the most vulnerable members of communities: consumers need some protection from costs (which in the UK they don't have under the current fossil paradigm, but other EU countries do it differently - eg France limiting energy bill rises to 4%).

I would like to see some recognition that everybody in wealthy societies such as the EU should be able to access enough energy to stay warm, cook, use lights and fridges. There's all sorts of ways to make that happen as long as you don't fetishize shareholder profits over normal people's welfare.
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Re: European energy policy

Post by Opti » Tue Mar 08, 2022 2:55 pm

There are plans for massive solar 'farms' here in my bit of Spain. Hindered by people who live in the Campo and love their 'fabulous' views (that will only be that way for a generation or 2 anyway) that are pretty much unproductive land.

I'm hoping that that Nimbyism may evaporate with the current electricity price here which is only set to soar even higher.
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Re: European energy policy

Post by WFJ » Tue Mar 08, 2022 2:55 pm

Woodchopper wrote:
Tue Mar 08, 2022 2:17 pm
IvanV wrote:
Tue Mar 08, 2022 11:28 am

So we can now understand that moving away from gas usage quickly is difficult. The main use is space heating. Reducing demand for that requires many millions to change their heating systems. Also, when you see the relative size of the primary energy usages, you realise that making a reasonable dent in the demand for gas requires some pretty heroic increase in output from something else. Especially with the continuing tendency to want to move away from coal, and an aging nuclear sector with few replacements in construction.
As far as I remember, a lot of the usage in post-Soviet countries is in communal heating - eg an apartment block has a single boiler which is used by everyone. This may make it more difficult to replace gas with another energy source as everyone, or a majority, may need to agree to the change and pay for it.
Not just post-soviet, this type of heating is also common in Germany, Austria and Switzerland (and possibly elsewhere). In places where renting is more common there is also less financial incentive to switch even when each apartment is heated independently, as the person paying for heating is not the person who would have to pay for the new heating system.

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Re: European energy policy

Post by wilsontown » Tue Mar 08, 2022 3:54 pm

It's a bit unfortunate (for me) that when we moved into our house about a year ago I had to replace the existing gas boiler because it didn't work, despite assurances from the previous owner. In other circumstances I might have looked at alternatives but I'd just moved into a house with no heat or hot water. I'm not going to be keen to replace a new boiler that still has ~9 years of warranty left any time soon, especially given the installation costs of any likely replacement. Though if prices keep going like they are it might start to make more sense.
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Re: European energy policy

Post by Gfamily » Tue Mar 08, 2022 4:05 pm

wilsontown wrote:
Tue Mar 08, 2022 3:54 pm
It's a bit unfortunate (for me) that when we moved into our house about a year ago I had to replace the existing gas boiler because it didn't work, despite assurances from the previous owner. In other circumstances I might have looked at alternatives but I'd just moved into a house with no heat or hot water. I'm not going to be keen to replace a new boiler that still has ~9 years of warranty left any time soon, especially given the installation costs of any likely replacement. Though if prices keep going like they are it might start to make more sense.
My brother installed a CHP gas boiler when he renovated his house about 10-12 years ago, but it broke down in 2020 and has not been capable of being repaired.
It's been immersion heater and electric fires since then.

He's adapting to an electricity only house for the future, so his gas hob has been replaced with an induction one, and he is desperately hoping that he can get an air sourced heat pump system installed by the end of March, so he can get the Government grant under the current scheme. It's taken a f*ng age, and is very close to the wire now.
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Re: European energy policy

Post by Fishnut » Tue Mar 08, 2022 4:20 pm

The UK is to phase out the import of Russian oil and oil products by the end of the year and the EU has said they'll cut imports by 2/3 by the end of the year.
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Re: European energy policy

Post by lpm » Tue Mar 08, 2022 4:33 pm

Bird on a Fire wrote:
Tue Mar 08, 2022 2:54 pm
For sure - I think this is why campaign groups have a strong focus on a "just transition". Doing things communally requires planning how to protect the most vulnerable members of communities: consumers need some protection from costs (which in the UK they don't have under the current fossil paradigm, but other EU countries do it differently - eg France limiting energy bill rises to 4%).

I would like to see some recognition that everybody in wealthy societies such as the EU should be able to access enough energy to stay warm, cook, use lights and fridges. There's all sorts of ways to make that happen as long as you don't fetishize shareholder profits over normal people's welfare.
The France policy is a disaster. We've got to confront the fact that there's not going to be enough oil and gas for a couple of years. Making it cheaper than it should be means wasting it.

We've got to insulate, cut out journeys, turn the thermostat down and slow driving speeds. In the short term the EU is plugging the gap with LNG imports, which of course merely passes the shortage to elsewhere in the world. A "just transition" goes deeper than just making sure the poorer people in the EU can afford to stay warm. We are getting to the point where the global economy will be badly hit, which is of course worst for the poorest people in the world.
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Re: European energy policy

Post by Bird on a Fire » Tue Mar 08, 2022 5:28 pm

lpm wrote:
Tue Mar 08, 2022 4:33 pm
Bird on a Fire wrote:
Tue Mar 08, 2022 2:54 pm
For sure - I think this is why campaign groups have a strong focus on a "just transition". Doing things communally requires planning how to protect the most vulnerable members of communities: consumers need some protection from costs (which in the UK they don't have under the current fossil paradigm, but other EU countries do it differently - eg France limiting energy bill rises to 4%).

I would like to see some recognition that everybody in wealthy societies such as the EU should be able to access enough energy to stay warm, cook, use lights and fridges. There's all sorts of ways to make that happen as long as you don't fetishize shareholder profits over normal people's welfare.
The France policy is a disaster. We've got to confront the fact that there's not going to be enough oil and gas for a couple of years. Making it cheaper than it should be means wasting it.

We've got to insulate, cut out journeys, turn the thermostat down and slow driving speeds. In the short term the EU is plugging the gap with LNG imports, which of course merely passes the shortage to elsewhere in the world. A "just transition" goes deeper than just making sure the poorer people in the EU can afford to stay warm. We are getting to the point where the global economy will be badly hit, which is of course worst for the poorest people in the world.
In what sense was the French policy a disaster? I don't know much about its wider ramifications - just that it seems a preferable idea to forcing the poor to freeze to death in their homes.

As for making sacrifices, I'm sure everyone by now knows that it's the wealthy who need to make more sacrifices than the poor due to their enormously disproportionate emissions. Rather than raising prices across the board for everyone, a more progressive approach would be to tax excessive consumption (frequent fliers, SUVs, megayachts, mansions etc) and use the proceeds to cushion the blow for poor people, who in fact may not be able to turn down their thermostats further etc. anyway because they're already using as little as possible for cost reasons.
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Re: European energy policy

Post by lpm » Tue Mar 08, 2022 6:11 pm

Huh? What's frequent flying and mega yachts to do with gas availability?

You know full well we have to stop subsidising fossil fuels so why the f.ck are you so supportive of the French subsidising fossil fuels?

There's not going to be enough gas supplied to the world. End of. You're not going to solve that by making people with mansions pay more. It has to be solved by collective reduction in consumption. That means hundreds of millions of people turning down the thermostat and getting insulated and switching to renewable electricity.
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Re: European energy policy

Post by Bird on a Fire » Tue Mar 08, 2022 6:22 pm

I'm not supporting the French policy - not once have I said it's good - just reminding folks that there are various options available. The UK has chosen to pass ±all the costs onto the consumer. The French have chosen to pass ±none of them on. Something in the middle is also possible.

Price signals aren't going to make people living with energy poverty use significantly less energy. They will make those people's lives significantly less comfortable, especially as they probably also can't afford to buy new electric equipment or insulate their (landlord's) property.

So while I'd agree that in general fossil fuel subsidies need to go, there's also a very small edge case - poor people. It's a small issue in terms of emissions, because poor people emit relatively little. But it's a big social issue.

Taxing non-gas fossil fuels can still generate money to pay for stuff like insulation and electrification of poor people's homes. They may have to use gas in the meantime. But people who can barely afford their bills won't be investing in heat pumps, so they either need some protection from rising bills or we let them freeze.
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Re: European energy policy

Post by lpm » Tue Mar 08, 2022 6:36 pm

I don't think you've got to grips with 2022 yet. You're still in 2021 mode.
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Re: European energy policy

Post by Bird on a Fire » Tue Mar 08, 2022 6:45 pm

When I was in the UK in the first few months of 2022, I visited several friends who never use heating. One's a retired guy in his 70s, the others are early 30s with jobs. You're not going to get any gas savings from people who are already not using any. By extension, you'll get minimal savings from people using minimal amounts already.

Another model in the EU is Portugal's, which has a "social tariff" for electricity and water. People on lower incomes pay a lower tariff. It's not complicated to implement.

I don't think the EU will make much headway with policies designed to make the poor suffer. We're not talking about the UK here.
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Re: European energy policy

Post by WFJ » Tue Mar 08, 2022 6:51 pm

Bird on a Fire wrote:
Tue Mar 08, 2022 6:45 pm
When I was in the UK in the first few months of 2022, I visited several friends who never use heating. One's a retired guy in his 70s, the others are early 30s with jobs. You're not going to get any gas savings from people who are already not using any. By extension, you'll get minimal savings from people using minimal amounts already.

Another model in the EU is Portugal's, which has a "social tariff" for electricity and water. People on lower incomes pay a lower tariff. It's not complicated to implement.

I don't think the EU will make much headway with policies designed to make the poor suffer. We're not talking about the UK here.
You solve that problem with benefits or rebates, like the social tariff sounds like it is. Keeping consumer fuel prices low through subsidy during a gas shortage would be f.cking insane. You would just be pushing prices and subsidies ever higher.

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Re: European energy policy

Post by Bird on a Fire » Tue Mar 08, 2022 6:57 pm

WFJ wrote:
Tue Mar 08, 2022 6:51 pm
Bird on a Fire wrote:
Tue Mar 08, 2022 6:45 pm
When I was in the UK in the first few months of 2022, I visited several friends who never use heating. One's a retired guy in his 70s, the others are early 30s with jobs. You're not going to get any gas savings from people who are already not using any. By extension, you'll get minimal savings from people using minimal amounts already.

Another model in the EU is Portugal's, which has a "social tariff" for electricity and water. People on lower incomes pay a lower tariff. It's not complicated to implement.

I don't think the EU will make much headway with policies designed to make the poor suffer. We're not talking about the UK here.
You solve that problem with benefits or rebates, like the social tariff sounds like it is. Keeping consumer fuel prices low through subsidy during a gas shortage would be f.cking insane. You would just be pushing prices and subsidies ever higher.
I largely agree. But as well as punishing consumption through price hikes, the more interesting aspects of policy will be focusing on reducing demand, through increased efficiency and electrification.

Happily these are also areas with positive side effects, such as improving housing stock and living conditions (also reducing demand for electricity, of course), and providing employment and economic stimulus as the EU emerges from the pandemic recession.

Hopefully they can throw in enough carrots to get something agreed pronto, so the neediest households have things in place by next winter.
We have the right to a clean, healthy, sustainable environment.

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Gfamily
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Re: European energy policy

Post by Gfamily » Tue Mar 08, 2022 7:05 pm

Energy costs should be as progressive as possible, with grants and schemes available to improve domestic building insulation.
Rather than a standing charge and a single 'per unit' rate, there should be multiple rates, that increase dramatically as consumption increases.
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WFJ
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Re: European energy policy

Post by WFJ » Tue Mar 08, 2022 7:21 pm

Gfamily wrote:
Tue Mar 08, 2022 7:05 pm
Energy costs should be as progressive as possible, with grants and schemes available to improve domestic building insulation.
Rather than a standing charge and a single 'per unit' rate, there should be multiple rates, that increase dramatically as consumption increases.
The problem with this type of pricing is that it generally does not account for occupancy. It does not make sense for someone in a house of 7 to pay more for their nth unit than someone living alone. That would be difficult (impossible?) for utility companies to check and police properly. Instead properties are banded into assumed occupancies based on their size, which would allow someone living alone in a huge house to get lots of cheap energy.

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Re: European energy policy

Post by Millennie Al » Wed Mar 09, 2022 2:44 am

Bird on a Fire wrote:
Tue Mar 08, 2022 6:22 pm
Price signals aren't going to make people living with energy poverty use significantly less energy. They will make those people's lives significantly less comfortable, especially as they probably also can't afford to buy new electric equipment or insulate their (landlord's) property.
Read this: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/8283796.stm and the comments. It used to be common, and not restricted to poor households, that on cold nights ice would form on the inside of bedroom windows. People did not handle that by insulating their houses but by wearing more clothes indoors and using blankets, eiderdowns, and suchlike. It's certanly possible for nearly everyone to use less energy. The only question is whether you consider it too great a hardship to ask of them.
So while I'd agree that in general fossil fuel subsidies need to go, there's also a very small edge case - poor people. It's a small issue in terms of emissions, because poor people emit relatively little. But it's a big social issue.
It's not a small issue because there are lots of poor people.

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Re: European energy policy

Post by Millennie Al » Wed Mar 09, 2022 2:58 am

Bird on a Fire wrote:
Tue Mar 08, 2022 2:54 pm
Doing things communally requires planning how to protect the most vulnerable members of communities: consumers need some protection from costs (which in the UK they don't have under the current fossil paradigm, but other EU countries do it differently - eg France limiting energy bill rises to 4%).
They certainly do in the UK. Currently the average household is getting a subsidy of about £693 per year via the price cap. Since this is paid for by the energy suppliers, they have been going bust. See https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/publications/p ... s693-april This subsidy is being reduced in April, though there will continue to be a subsidy if the wholesale price rises further (which is looking increasingly likely). Things have already got so bad that it is no longer possible to transfer customers from a failed supplier to a surviving supplier and Bulb Energy now has to be effectively run by the government.
I would like to see some recognition that everybody in wealthy societies such as the EU should be able to access enough energy to stay warm, cook, use lights and fridges.
Should they be able to run dishwashers, washing machines, TVs, computers, and all the other gadgets of modern life too?
There's all sorts of ways to make that happen as long as you don't fetishize shareholder profits over normal people's welfare.
The only people who fetishise shareholder profits are those on the left who are obsessed with them.

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