European Energy Blog

Heat or eat, the energy dilemma of Great Britain

18 December 2014 by Lorenzo Colantoni

Good and bad news for the UK. The good news is that, under OECD forecasts, the country is the fastest growing G7 economy. With a growth rate of 3.2% and unemployment at 6.5%, in 2015 the UK GDP will rise faster than the US. The bad news is that the energy crisis that has been looming over the country for, at least, the last twenty years could dissolve all of this any moment.

Implementing the No-Regrets Scenario on the Ground: Investment Challenges and Market Design in the European Power Sector.

Part II Market Design

18 December 2014 by Daria Nochevnik

While the first part of this article addressed the investment challenges that the European power sector is facing today, in particular, the infrastructure development or the ‘hardware’ of the system, the present contribution turns to the ‘software’ of it. The latter includes the issues related the implementation of the EU Target Model for electricity markets (Target Electricity Model – TEM) market design and development and adoption of network codes.

Implementing the No-Regrets Scenario on the Ground: Investment Challenges and Market Design in the European Power Sector. A TSO perspective.

Part I Policy Strategy and Investment Challenge

4 December 2014 by Daria Nochevnik

Securing Europe’s competitive energy future is undoubtedly the key challenge in view of EU’s endorsement of the 2030 climate and energy framework last October, as well as the 2050 decarbonisation target. In order to achieve the latter, it is estimated that some 2.2. trillion dollars in investments are needed by 2035 (IEA World Energy Investment Outlook, 2014). To this end, a number of studies, including the World Energy Council’s report [note 1], released last week point out that challenges associated with regulatory uncertainty as well as the contradictory outcomes of addressing the energy trilemma of sustainability, affordability and energy security, impair the investment climate in the sector.

Could falling oil prices spark a financial crisis?

4 December by Nick Cunningham

The oil and gas boom in the United States was made possible by the extensive credit afforded to drillers. Not only has financing come from company shareholders and traditional banks, but hundreds of billions of dollars have also come from junk-bond investors looking for high returns.

The decline in gas demand - a European problem?

20 November 2014 by Nicholas Newman

Ever since the global financial crisis and the onset of recession the demand for gas in Europe - particularly from the power generation sector – has steadily declined. In 2010 gas consumption in the EU and Switzerland was equivalent to 522 billion cubic metres (bcm) but by 2013 demand had dropped to 462 bcm. This fall of 60bcm in gas consumption is roughly equivalent to the annual gas consumption of Italy according to Eurogas 2014. However, gas consumption in 2014 appears to have bottomed out according to Professor Jonathan Stern, Natural Gas Research Programme, Oxford Institute for Energy Studies (OIES). Furthermore, he adds, “most forecasts see demand slowly turning round and increasing but it will not get back to 2010 levels until the early or mid (and in some projections late) 2020s.

From maintenance expert to operations analyst

20 November 2014 by Hans Christian Schröder and Achim Foos

To stay competitive, conventional power stations are faced with the need to become more flexible. But what do maintenance specialists have to look out for when enhancing the flexibility of existing older power plants? In addition to cost savings, maintenance experts will have to place greater emphasis on the analysis and consideration of operational requirements in the future.

Will Distributed Storage Save Germany's PV Industry?

6 November 2014 by Paul Hockenos

Germany’s beleaguered solar industry rejoiced when the government-owned development bank KfW and the federal environment ministry announced loans and repayment support for combined rooftop PV and battery storage options of up to 30 kW. The sector thought it spotted an opportunity to redeem itself on the German and international markets with a technology that German PV and energy management firms had long been perfecting.

Are We There Yet?

The long road to nuclear new-build in the UK

23 October 2014 by Alex Forbes

Six years ago, when the then Labour government in the UK was “inviting” private companies to invest in new nuclear power stations, ministers were very definite that they had no intention whatsoever of providing subsidies. They insisted that it would be for private companies “to fund, develop and build new nuclear power stations . . . including meeting the full costs of decommissioning and their full share of waste management costs”.

Oh, and by the way, the first new stations would start to come on stream by 2018, thus helping to fill a looming generation gap.

What is wrong with Russian gas?

9 October 2014 by Irina Mironova

There clearly is a problem with the European energy security (and security of gas supplies). Where do the roots of this problem come from? The Platts European Gas Summit, which took place in Berlin last week, I thought, would give me a glimpse of reasonable understanding of today’s solutions and approaches to the issue. For example, did conceptual thinking about energy security evolve over the past years? What are the main challenges – lately not so much in the realm of deliveries as such, but safety of critical infrastructure, including cyber security – that can pose actual limits on supplies? How market forces – particularly with relation to gas trade – may or may not affect energy security? The world is changing, and so does the energy security debate, after all. However, I was left wondering if the purpose of the summit was really to find any solutions and explanations, or rather, to promote one single idea.

Security of the Natural Gas Supplies from Underground Gas Storages

An Example of Incukalns UGS in Latvia

25 September 2014 by Leo Jansons

Security of natural gas supplies in the European Union (EU) is among the most topical issues in the energy policy field today. Furthermore, the best ways for its improvement are reviewed almost on a daily bases. Europe’s dependence on natural gas supplies from third countries – among them the world’s biggest natural gas exporter – the Russian Federation – is regarded as one of the weak points in its energy policy both in mid and long term perspectives. In order to guarantee security of supply for certain technically well-interconnected countries with a fairly large share of natural gas in overall national primary energy consumption – for example, three Baltic States - the use of underground natural gas storage (UGS) facilities is regarded as one of the most sustainable options. Here, however, the availability of geological structures suitable for storage and supply of natural gas are crucial.

Can Norway Rescue Europe?

11 September 2014 by Saltanat Berdikeeva

A new law approved by the Ukrainian parliament earlier last month, which may ban the transit of Russian gas through Ukraine and prompt possible revisions of natural gas contracts of European countries with Moscow, sent a wave of speculations about the security of Russian gas supplies to Europe. Given that Gazprom’s policy of tying gas rates to oil-indexed prices had already led to disputes with a number of European customers in the recent past, the latter fear further cuts in gas deliveries because of the political crisis in Ukraine and potential changes in contract terms. The armed conflict in eastern Ukraine and the European Union’s own economic sanctions imposed on Russia, following the shooting down of the Malaysian commercial airliner along the Ukraine-Russia border, threaten stable supplies of natural gas from Russia. Europe relies on Russia for 29 percent of its natural gas needs. Supply disruptions to the continent could be particularly onerous with the onset of the cold weather, as evidenced in 2006 and 2009.

Why are energy companies failing to communicate with the public?

28 August 2014 by Nicholas Newman

Europe’s energy companies are facing public protests and opposition to almost every newly announced potentially disruptive energy project. For example, protests against a new power line in Bavaria occurred in July 2014. Widespread and prolonged opposition by locals and outsiders, camped in the village of Balcombe UK, protested against fracking in 2013 and protests against wind farms in Ireland occurred during January 2014. There are too many examples of energy projects generating protests and opposition leading to costly delays and even abandonment in spite of the likely environmental, market and energy security benefits such schemes are likely to bring to communities and the country.

Greenpeace targets Gazprom through Shell in the Arctic

14 August 2014 by Andrej Tibold

Depleting offshore fields in the North Sea are forcing international oil companies (IOCs) to try their luck further up north, in Arctic waters. Due to global warming, Arctic ice is retreating and offering opportunities for offshore oil production. While the ‘Arctic pioneer’, Shell, has halted its projects in the Alaskan Arctic, activities in the Russian Arctic are increasing, a trend which Greenpeace is trying to curb. After the incident at Gazprom’s Prirazlomnaya platform in September last year, Greenpeace aims to increase pressure on Gazprom through Shell’s shareholders, such as asset managers and pension funds investing in Shell. EU and US sanctions have become an unexpected ally.

Nuclear Power Just Doesn't Pay

4 August 2014 by Paul Hockenos

In the past, critics of nuclear power went to great lengths to point out nuclear energy’s inherent danger. But these days the safety arguments pack less punch: not because they’re any less valid but because the costs and financial risks of building new plants are so clearly prohibitive that nuclear power doesn’t make sense even if the safety risks were zero.

Tepco soon coming to a grid near you!

11 July 2014 by Rudolf ten Hoedt, Tokyo

The Tokyo Electric Power Corporation (Tepco), that required saving from bankruptcy by the Japanese taxpayer, is soon coming to a power grid near you! The owner of the crippled reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is going overseas again. Faced with fuel costs that have doubled since the nuclear accident in March 2011 and with the future of nuclear energy in Japan still uncertain, Tepco is picking up the profitable foreign expansion the company broke off after the Fukushima disaster. It has a business plan approved for the investment abroad of JPY 230 billion (Euro 1,8 billion at current rates) in power plants, upstream gas assets and other projects over the next ten years.

The energy sector's future business models

3 July 2014 by Tessel Renzenbrink

As renewable energy source technologies continue to disrupt the energy market the dominant business model shifts away from generation in centralized power plants. Where business opportunity lies in the energy market of the future was one of the themes addressed at the Erasmus Energy Forum that took place June 19-20 in Rotterdam.

Dividing South Stream

19 June 2014 by Jozef Badida

The European Union doesn’t have a common energy policy. That's not so surprising considering there are many different (political and economic) interests making it almost impossible to find a compromise on crucial projects. The best example is the South Stream pipeline, aimed at transporting Russian gas via the Black Sea to Central Europe and Italy, which divides the EU member states and its institutions.

Turkey’s Growing Profile in European Energy Supply Security

5 June 2014 by Saltanat Berdikeeva

On May 22, 2014, Turkey began shipping the first 1 million barrels of oil via the newly built Kurdistan-Turkey pipeline from the Kurdish semi-autonomous region of Iraq to Europe. Although this action will further complicate the relations between the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) and the Iraqi central government as well as Iraq and Turkey over the legality of KRG’s oil sales without the Iraqi government’s consent, the oil flow from Iraqi Kurdistan is unlikely to stop. According to an official statement of KRG, “this is the first of many such sales of oil exported through the newly constructed pipeline in the Kurdistan region”. Turkey’s role as a key destination and transit outlet for KRG’s oil exports has been incrementally growing since 2012 with trucks deliveries.

The EU triangle

22 May 2014 by Ben Warner

The EU is creating its own Bermuda Triangle. Only in this case it is not an area in the ocean where ships and planes mysteriously vanish, but a time triangle. In the long-term the EU and every state member faces the necessity of the energy transition. Whether the reason will be found in the environmental department, the decreasing availability and popularity of fossil fuels or the defence against the effects of a changing climate, there is no escape from this reality. In the medium-term, improving employment is number one on the priority list of the EU-Commission, if the financial crisis can definitely be left behind. In the short-term there is the confrontation between the Russian Federation and the EU over the Crimea annexation and the turmoil in Ukraine.

World energy up to 2040 as seen from 'the other side'

15 May 2014 by Irina Mironova

An increasing amount of energy and economic outlooks are published annually. In today’s blog entry, I would like to share the findings of the 2014 edition of Global and Russian Energy Outlook up to 2040, published on April 21 by the Energy Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences (ERIRAS) and the Analytical Centre of the Government of the Russian Federation (ACRF) [note 1]. The significance of this document is that the two responsible institutions are regularly consulted by the Ministry of Energy of the Russian Federation when planning its Energy Strategy. The outlook can probably be labelled as the 'Russian version’ of IEA’s World Energy Outlook. The 2013 edition of the Global and Russian Energy Outlook with 'Shale breakthrough' and 'Shale failure' scenarios received the World Energy Council’s ‘Tomorrow’s Energy Award’.

Sanctions: the Russian perspective

8 May 2014 by Irina Mironova

Last week the US and EU announced the introduction of additional sanctions against Russian business people and politicians. Moreover, another set of economic sanctions, this time against various sectors of Russia’s economy, would be introduced in case the Ukrainian presidential elections are disrupted. In response, Russia stated that this might affect the collaboration between Western and Russian energy companies. Gazprom, the gas giant in charge of all Russian gas supplies to Europe, announced in its Management report that the Ukraine crisis may affect its European exports. Last month I already looked into the implications of the stand off, and in this blog post I would like to give an updated overview of the Russian perspective on this issue.

From a Duopoly to an Oligopoly in Transports

2 May 2014 by Michael Grossmann

When fuels are as versatile as petroleum products are in transports, it is not surprising that several alternative fuels are needed to substitute for different vehicle types and usages. Petroleum products' qualities are their unsurpassed energy and volume density and their ease of handling.

Is Slovakia serving Russian interests?

24 April 2014 by Jozef Badida

Due to the current crisis in Ukraine and a potential disruption of Russian gas supplies, the world has recently discovered Slovakia – connecting Ukraine and the European Union. Although it is not larger than 50.000 kmē, through its huge pipelines Slovakia is able to transit 70 bcm of natural gas per year. For a long time only a westward direction has been used. But suddenly the option of establishing a reverse flow has become a focal point in the Ukrainian efforts to lessen its dependence on Russia. The Slovak Prime Minister has received a call from the US Vice President as well as a letter from the Russian President, while Slovakia has hosted delegations of the European Commission and Ukraine. Nevertheless the country has been accused of not being cooperative enough - or even of hindering the Ukrainian goal to import natural gas from the West. Is this true?

Combining autonomy and EU policy

A herculean task

17 April 2014 by Ben Warner

It is astonishing how quickly long-term scenarios can be hit sideways by actual developments. Only a few months ago the European Commission presented the new EU framework on climate and energy. The proposals to be analyzed by each member state before a decisive consensus can be reached are still on the printer. It is obvious that sanctions against Russia involving a decrease of gas and oil imports will influence basically any plan setting forth a vision for Europe’s energy future. But first let me summarize what the pillars of the framework for 2030 are.

The paralysing effect of interdependency

10 April 2014 by Irina Mironova

Two days ago the US Secretary of State John Kerry announced a new set of sanctions being worked on at the White House. The sanctions are supposed to hit the finance, energy and raw materials sector of Russia. The EU calls on Russia to de-escalate the situation in Ukraine, otherwise economic sanctions will be imposed. It would be interesting to see to what extent any such action will actually influence Russia’s energy strategy and, in turn, decision making. In what way do the possible sanctions have the power to affect Russia’s planning when it comes to energy (primarily gas) exports? 

Why Norway has the highest share of electric vehicles per capita in the world

3 April 2014 by Reiner Gatermann

They are neighbours, have almost the same cultural background, both with the ambition of being world’s best on green issues, have the same environmental goals and can already boast a CO2-free electricity production. Despite of these common attributes, Norway and Sweden have chosen different ways in the use of electric vehicles (EV) to fight CO2. Or better said: already several years ago, Norway decided to focus on EVs, whilst Sweden is still hesitating which way to go. In December last year, the Stockholm government was presented with an extensive expert report it is looking into. In the meantime Norway has become the country with the highest number of electric cars in the world per capita, and its capital, Oslo, represents the highest electric car density of any capital city.

Little Lithuania Between Scylla and Charybdis

What countrymen pay the highest price for natural gas in all of Europe?

26 March 2014 by Paul Hockenos

I certainly wouldn’t have guessed it before I went to Lithuania last week. But any taxi cab driver, bartender or student in the capital city of Vilnius can tell you that Lithuanians, who are nearly 100 percent dependent on Russian gas, have the continent’s worst contract with Gazprom. They pay 30 percent more than people in other EU member states. Even compared to its Baltic neighbours, Latvia and Estonia, Lithuania is getting screwed: Gazprom charges it 13 percent more than it does Estonia and 20 percent more than Latvia. It’s so bad that Lithuania has initiated an EU investigation into its contract’s terms. (Lithuania is demanding back 1.67 billion euro of claimed overcharges.) 

LNG Allies too optimistic?

20 March 2014 by Jozef Badida, Bratislava

The European gas industry isn’t going through an easy period. Demand is continuously declining, it´s losing out with coal and cannot offer a competitive price in comparison with US shale gas. Moreover, unlike the Western European gas markets, Central and Eastern Europe have to face low liquidity and a high dependence on Russian supplies. This awkward situation would not be changed much by the construction of South Stream and Nabucco´s rival TAP. Nevertheless, concerned countries, forming LNG Allies, see light at the end of the tunnel – US LNG shipments. Isn´t this idea too optimistic?

Russia and the West: finding common ground is where the solution lies

13 March 2014 by Irina Mironova

Ukraine has not left the top lines on the news since it got there nearly half a year ago: what seemed to be a fight about getting into the European orbit has transformed into a civil war-like struggle within the country and a cold war-like stand-off in world politics. The issue at stake is ultimately the future of the country, but this will have a direct impact on the European security - and energy supplies security in particular. One specific issue at stake that will likely determine the relations between East and West – or more specifically, Europe and Russia as the two sides Ukraine was looking at in search of its overall orientation – is the future of the Crimea peninsula and the way it is perceived and handled by these two forces. The referendum on the status of Crimea is scheduled for March 16th. 

Another Big Zero would harm the gas industry in many ways

5 March 2014 by Jozef Badida, Bratislava

Each end of the year, Europe is closely watching the usual Russian-Ukrainian negotiations over the price of gas. We remember the 2009 gas crisis all too well, when gas supplies were cut off completely at Velké Kapusany – the most important entry point of the Russian gas to the European Union. An unimaginable shortage of gas supply at the Ukrainian Slovak border became a reality. It was freezing and Europe was not prepared for this. Today the reasons may be different but the threat is the same – a potential Big Zero. Last year a volume of 53.5 bcm was delivered via Velké Kapusany (a third of all Russian gas export to Europe) and its typical daily flow is currently around 110 mcm. However, what might occur if the flow is suddenly cut off?

Snow Job in Bavaria

27 February 2014 by Paul Hockenos

The revamp of Germany’s clean-energy transition, or Energiewende, is hardly off to a flying start, something the new grand coalition in Berlin had been counting on. It had even created a new energy authority within the powerful economic planning ministry, now called the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy, to expedite the process. But the reforms are plodding along, still with no specifics on the raft of pressing issues on the agenda.

Nuclear Power 2.0: Another way of doing it

20 February 2014 by Pekka Ottavainen, Chairman of Fennovoima nuclear power company

In January, the European Commission published its climate and energy goals for 2030. Two of the key priorities are reducing emissions and ensuring a competitive and secure energy system, which are very laudable objectives. Nuclear power does both. It also facilitates a third objective, the wider use of renewable energy. Nuclear power creates the conditions in which renewable energy can be implemented, by providing a stable base load that is indispensable for modern societies and which wind and solar cannot guarantee at all times.

Ideology versus physics + chemistry + economics = no contest

13 February 2014 by Alex Forbes

Responding to the 2030 energy and climate change policy framework published by the European Commission on 22nd January, the European Renewable Energy Council (EREC) pulled no punches in voicing its disappointment. In a highly critical analysis of the Impact Assessment that accompanied the Commission’s proposals – patronisingly entitled “Understanding the 2030 Climate and Energy Framework” – it wrote: “It is incomprehensible that there is no scenario setting three targets for greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), energy efficiency (EE) and renewable energy sources (RES).” To my mind, the most disappointing aspect of the Commission’s proposals was the retention of a “binding” target for how much of the EU’s energy should come from renewables. 

Japan's nuclear restart: will they or won't they?

6 February 2014 by Rudolf ten Hoedt, Fukuoka

The local electricity company in Kyushu, the most southern of the main islands in Japan’s archipelago, is tensely looking forward to the outcome of the election of a new mayor of faraway Tokyo, this Sunday. Two candidates are running on an anti-nuclear energy ticket. If one of them wins, it would be a severe blow to the already ailing efforts of the government of prime minister Shinzo Abe to get at least a couple of Japan’s fifty nuclear reactors back on the grid in the third biggest electricity market of the world.

Brussels Briefing on Energy: All you need to know for the month of February 2014

6 February 2014 by Vieuws

In this Brussels Briefing on Energy, leading journalist Hughes Belin provides an overview of the European Union’s most pressing energy issues. 

A Sneak Peek into Russia’s Energy Strategy up to 2035

30 January 2014 by Irina Mironova

On January 23, the Russian Ministry of Energy published the Main Statements of the Energy Strategy of Russia for the period up to 2035. As EER reported in December 2013, the main target to be handled through the coming years is to cope with two fundamental challenges: changing realities at the external markets, of which the Russian energy sector is heavily dependent; and slowing pace of domestic economic growth. It looks like, with the help of respectable research institutions, the Strategy took up the right pace: focus on the efficiency of the energy sector and use it as a foundation for the development of other sectors of the economy. Below I will summarise the key points of the document and provide some links for further reference. 

Dutch cutbacks in gas production a blessing in disguise

27 January 2014 by Gert van Wijland

Cutbacks in gas production in the northernmost Dutch province of Groningen look set to cost the treasury around 800 million euro a year over the next three years. But in the longer term it might turn out to be a good move, both for the Netherlands and the European market as a whole.

Misconceptions about the Energiewende

23 January 2014 by Paul Hockenos

Writing about energy is a complicated business, especially for journalists who don’t specialize in the field – which is why one sees so many mistakes in energy-related stories. (And, of course, this is why there’s the likes of EER.) The Economist had been responsible for some of the worst stories in 2012 and 2013 – chock full of inaccuracies. This week’s contribution on the Energiewende has fewer, which is good of course – but nothing to brag about.

If Europe had one voice, energy prices could be reduced, claims IEA’s Fatih Birol

23 January 2014 by Ron van Duuren

Leading energy journalist Hughes Belin is joined by Fatih Birol, chief economist at the International Energy Agency, to discuss the World Energy Outlook 2013. In this interview, Birol looks at global energy prices and analyses the big price difference between the US and Europe. “Energy markets are going through very dynamic times. Todaygas prices in Europe are 3 times higher than those in the US and electricity in Europe istwice as expensive as in the US“.

Is there space for common energy policy for Central Asian states in relation to the external energy markets?

20 January 2014 by Irina Mironova

While my colleagues in Europe are reporting on the Green Capitals and new developments in the international markets (in a sense of market completion, see Reiner Gatermann’s blog entry and an insightful interview with ACER’s director delivered by Josef Badida), my latest assignment brought me to Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Just as I was writing this essay, the power went off. Which made it even more exciting to write about the role of Central Asia in international energy markets and particularly European energy security: the essence of the energy security concept is hugely different in these two regions. If in Europe it is about the access to energy of any particular household, the quality of air and the like, the further you move into the Eastern Partnership target area, the less you care about the cleanliness of the air, and the more about the fact that your computer actually works.

Copenhagen adamant: “By 2025 we will be CO2 free”

16 January 2014 by Reiner Gatermann

Not only among politicians and in the business community, but also among the 560,000 inhabitants of the Danish capital, 1.2 million in Greater Copenhagen, here is hardly any doubt what Copenhagen will be in 2025: the first CO2 neutral capital in the world. The EU describes this goal as “ambitious”, but is at the same time so impressed by the city’s strategy that it awarded it the title “European Green Capital 2014”. 

ACER - what´s up?

13 January 2014 by Jozef Badida

If you look up ACER in a search engine you are likely to end up on the website of the Taiwanese PC titan. Among European energy stakeholders, however, ACER is equally well-known as a young but influential energy body based in Ljubljana. Launched as the product of the 3rd Energy Package, the organisation has always been at the centre of attention among new EU Member States. A fierce battle over the seat of the Agency was fought between Slovenia, Slovakia and Romania in 2009. And even today, the Czech Republic expresses its willingness to accommodate the Agency´s potential branch. Therefore its very first Director Alberto Pototschnig was also invited to the Central European Energy Conference 2013 in Bratislava, in order to bring the latest news from his Office. EER will bring you an exclusive interview with Pototschnig later on this week, tackling various intriguing issues.

You win some, you lose some

9 January 2014 by Ben Warner

America's newest, most expensive coal-fired power plant (in Mississippi) is said to be one of the cleanest on the planet. This is the result of government-backed technology that removes CO2 and keeps it out of the atmosphere. The US government makes it possible for power companies to sell the CO2 to oil companies, who pump it into old oil fields to force more crude to the surface. This has a downside. Stripping away the carbon in itself and stocking it underground is benefiting the environment, but at the same time this solution is leading to something that is not so green at all: oil.

Top 5 Energy – All you need to know for 2014

9 January 2014 by Annemiek Planting

EU policy broadcaster ViEUws brings the top 5 energy issues that will be discussed by the EU institutions under the Greek Presidency during the first half of 2014. 

The New Face of Germany’s Energiewende: Rainer Baake

6 January 2014 by Paul Hockenos

In the wake of the October 2013 national elections, Germany’s Energiewende supporters had every reason to be dispirited. The coalition negotiations between Merkel’s Christian Democrats and the Social Democrats dragged on and on. When the Energiewende was mentioned at all, it was in terms of slowing the transition’s pace, scaling back the feed-in tariff, diluting efficiency standards, protecting the coal industry, and making yet more exemptions for industry (the latter in blatant contradiction to the SPD’s campaign promises). The fact that the parties shifted the renewable energy portfolio from the environment ministry to the powerful ministry for economic planning seemed to bode ill rather than good, like putting the fox in charge of the chicken coop. 

"Only an idiot would invest in the EU market"

19 December 2013 by Jozef Badida

These are the words of Vaclav Bartuska, Ambassador-at-Large for Energy Security of the Czech Republic. He expressed them during the Central European Energy Conference held in Bratislava back in November 2013. Bartuska rightly pointed out the two contradictory votes of the European Parliament on backloading carbon allowances under the Emission Trading Scheme (April/July 2013). Moreover, the EU has to face commodity prices that are too low, rising additional electricity costs, inadequate transmission infrastructure and inefficient use of installed capacity. Who would call this stability, maybe except for renewable energy producers enjoying feed-in tariffs? How many investors would really pour their money into the EU energy market under the currently unpredictable market conditions? 

Energy economics driving conflicts

It is the South China Sea, stupid!

17 December 2013 by Rudolf ten Hoedt, Tokyo

Main stream media reporting the continuing maritime conflict between China and Japan about control over a couple of uninhabited islands and rocks that lie in between them, hardly ever forget to mention that the waters around these tiny little spots are rich in oil or gas or both. Let’s forget for now the “rich fishing grounds” that may be part of the conflict as well. Control of the disputed area in the East China Sea will give access to “potentially abundant energy deposits in surrounding waters”, many reports claim. These assessments may give the impression that energy economics currently drive military confrontations in the East China Sea.

Strategic thinking

12 December 2013 by Irina Mironova

It is no surprise that current world energy developments are somewhat stressful for the Russian energy sector and economy in particular. The economy largely depends on the revenues from oil and gas exports. There are two major implications stemming from this dependence: firstly, the oil price is not and will not be increasing at a pace sufficient for the GDP growth (which was boosted precisely by the oil price increase in the past decade); and secondly, the Russian exports are not likely to increase. This means that the oil and gas sector cannot be the source of growth any more, and other sectors’ development is not a suggestion but a must.

Iran’s energetic breakthrough

9 December 2013 by Alex Forbes

There are many reasons to celebrate the deal reached by Iran over its nuclear ambitions – perhaps more than were immediately obvious during the brouhaha that followed the November 24th announcement. A crucial aspect of that breakthrough is that it could – after nearly a decade of disappointments – re-open Iran’s oil and natural gas reserves to foreign investors and international markets.

Instead of being criticised, Japan should be commended

5 December 2013 by Reiner Gatermann

At the embarrassingly unsuccessful UN Climate Change Conference in Warsaw, one country especially was made a scapegoat: Japan. The government in Tokyo had just announced that it was not any longer pursuing its original 2020 goal of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels by 25 percent. Instead, Japan will cut emissions by 3.8 percent by 2020 compared to 2005 levels. However, by 2005, Japan’s greenhouse gas output had increased 7 percent compared to 1990.

Low-Carbon Energy Policies Aren’t Just Pain

28 November 2013 by Paul Hockenos

Renewables and climate protection, so goes common wisdom, are costly endeavours that inevitably throw a spanner in industrial economies geared for growth. But an excellent new study conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers Advisory for the European Climate Foundation contradicts this ostensible truism. It shows that while the transition to a low-carbon energy system may indeed cost money, economies can grow – not despite low-emissions policies, but also because of them.

Brussels’ energy agenda

28 November 2013 by Ron van Duuren

With December in sight, a new 'Brussels Briefing on Energy' is broadcasted. Our friends at viEUws provide an overview of recent developments and things to come in EU's energy policy.

Watching the weather

25 November 2013 by Ben Warner

After a lukewarm reception of the Fifth UN report, the conference in Warsaw on climate development and control ended last week where it had started. Hardly any progress was made. Even worse, some countries like Japan lowered their targets concerning the emission of greenhouse gases. A major issue in the dispute was the question: ‘Who should take the first step in bringing down the CO2 level permanently and henceforth make the immense investments?”

Internal energy market: energy regulators agency "can't promise lower prices"

21 November 2013 by Annemiek Planting

On the EU policy broadcaster VIEUWS, EU journalist Hughes Belin interviews the director of the Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators (ACER) Alberto Pototschnig, on the EU energy market, major infrastructure projects and the impact they can have on energy prices for consumers.

Finding a place for utility-scale PV plants in Europe

21 November 2013 by Frank Peter, Leonard Krampe and Matthias Deutsch, Prognos AG

With the debate about future renewable energy support schemes in Europe heating up, some argue that electricity generation from PV should primarily take place in the sunnier south of Europe. The idea of transmitting excess electricity to northern regions, however, hinges critically on the absolute difference between PV generation costs in those two regions. When this difference gets smaller, the remaining room for grid costs diminishes as well. At some point it becomes more cost-efficient to generate electricity from PV in the center. Utility-scale PV plants are on track for exactly those kind of cost reductions, if the policy frameworks enable them to achieve this objective.

Finland plans on another nuclear power reactor

18 November 2013 by Reiner Gatermann, Stockholm

The Finns still believe in nuclear power. Whilst Teollisuuden Voima Oyj (TVO) is struggling with the construction of its Olkiluoto 3 reactor, which is by now four years behind schedule and will not be finished until 2016 at the earliest, Fennovoima took a crucial investment decision. It confirmed the signature of the plant supply contract before the end of this year. The only candidate left is the Russian company Rosatom. At the same time, the Finns are negotiating with the Russians about the acquisition of a 34 percent share in the Fennovoima owner company Voimaosakeyhtiö SF. If everything goes according to plan, Finland’s latest and by then sixth nuclear power reactor will start production in 2024.

Streetcar hits bedrock of China’s energy programs

14 November 2013 by Rudolf ten Hoedt, Tokyo

Recent attacks on strongholds of the Communist Party of China indicate that unhappy citizens are a security risk for the party’s master plan for managing China’s stellar growth. One of these attacks is linked to China’s core strategy to secure the supply of energy.

Should energy giants and their investors be nervous?

11 November 2013 by Jozef Badida

Have you ever heard about a carbon budget or unburnable carbon? Companies producing oil, natural gas or coal most probably have and they cannot be happy about this... Currently, their value is markedly determined by their fossil fuels reserves. However, what will happen if one day they are no longer able to exploit them? Are we facing another, this time carbon, bubble?

Three-way (dis)integration

6 November 2013, Moscow, Russia, by Irina Mironova

Ukraine has been on the news quite extensively in the past month, both in Russia and internationally. The reason is the Association Agreement that Ukraine is likely to sign with the European Union in the coming weeks.

2030: Will Europe have the courage to fix its climate & energy tools?

7 November 2013 by Annemiek Planting

According to the European Environment Agency, Europe is doing very well tackling climate change. However, the figures show that there is plenty of room for improvement.  

The ten bassi

31 October 2013 by Ben Warner

Recently the ceo’s of ten leading energy companies presented their vision on the European Energy policy to an international media audience. It was the most harmonious business choir I have heard in a long time. Its repertoire though was sombre and every choir member was a basso profundo. 

Norway's change of government: the petroleum industry is - almost - enthusiastic

28 October 2013 by Reiner Gatermann

In mid October Norway got a new government. After eight years the Norwegians decided it was time for a change. The red-red-green government with the Social Democrat Jens Stoltenberg as Prime Minister has been replaced by a blue-blue government, led by the Conservative Erna Solberg. Looking at the political colour scale, one could get the impression of quite a drastic change. However, that is not the case. Norway’s political spectrum is not that wide, especially not for the petroleum industry. The companies, which are active on the Norwegian Continental Shelf (NCS), did not have to worry about a change of government, because a comprehensive consensus regarding the offshore strategy has existed since a long time. The Political Platform, the strategy paper of the new government, confirms this.

Leaking facts

24 October 2013 by Paul Hockenos

If the facts don’t fit the story, change the facts. This is exactly what EU energy commissioner Günter Oettinger did last week when a study conducted by his own office found that in the EU 27 fossil fuels and nuclear power receive more subsidy money than renewable energy. Actually, he didn’t change the facts, they were just crossed out.

200 energy infrastructure priorities

24 October 2013 by Ron van Duuren

The European Commission published a list of 200 projects of common European interest to be completed until 2020, which will help to fulfil the EU's energy and climate objectives.

Europe on the horns of a trilemma

21 October 2013 by Alex Forbes

Last week's World Energy Congress (WEC) in South Korea was a stark reminder of how daunting the challenges are of meeting future energy needs. Most worrying was the message that we are failing to make the progress we ought to be. 

Russia and climate change: “Will the message be heard?”

17 October 2013 by Irina Mironova

The report of the IPCC Working Group I has not yet succeeded in initiating discussions and actions. Is it a ‘no high five’ indeed? I have discussed this with several experts on climate change in Moscow. 

No high five

14 October 2013 by Ben Warner

Just after the publication of the fifth report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change I wrote that in the Netherlands the reactions to its content and conclusions were lukewarm. Television coverage was meagre. EER asked a couple of its correspondents how they experienced the report’s reverberation so far. Their reactions give us reason to soon revisit the subject through a blog series. 

Nuclear: European Commission debates state aid guidelines

10 October 2013 by Ron van Duuren

On October 8 the European Commission organized an orientation debate on State aid guidelines for environmental protection as part of the institution's general efforts to modernize the current State aid policies in the interest of growth and jobs. Prior to that debate viEUws' Cornelia Primosch was joined by Pia Ahrenkilde Hansen, spokeswoman of the European Commission, to discuss the new EU State aid policy guidelines to apply to the environment and energy sectors.

Uncertainty, not ILUC is holding back biofuels in Europe

3 October 2013 by Ron van Duuren

Another interesting viEUws talk on Indirect Land Use Change (ILUC) policy proposal and its effects on biofuels production: The European Commission proposal for an ILUC Directive, regulating the amount of land used for biofuels, surprisingly grinds to a halt in the European Parliament.

"Citizens to benefit from Third Energy Package by 2014"

23 September 2013 by Ron van Duuren

viEUws' Hughes Belin is joined by Alberto Pototschnig, Director of the Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators (ACER), to discuss the progress of the European Union Member States on implementing the Third Energy Package to further improve Europe's Internal Energy Market.

EU energy topics this autumn

16 September 2013 by Ron van Duuren

In a new viEUws video Hughes Belin introduces the top 5 Energy issues the EU institutions are discussing at the moment, namely:

"Energy can be a solution to Europe's woes"

8 August 2013 by Ron van Duuren

In a new viEUws' broadcasting Lithuanian Minister of Energy Jaroslav Neverovic discusses the energy priorities of the Lithuanian presidency. Neverovic says he is keen to implement the EU's energy plans in the autumn, when the presidency has several high-level meetings planned on the topic.

"Binding renewables target can build competitiveness"

20 June 2013 by Ron van Duuren

viEUws interviewed Josche Muth, the Secretary-General of the European Renewable Energy Council (EREC) about the environment priorities for 2030. EREC recently released its report, 'Hat-trick 2030', which lays down an "integrated renewables - greenhouse gas -  energy efficiency 2030 policy approach" with a binding renewable energy target.

Brussels Briefing on Energy

6 June 2013 by Ron van Duuren

viEUws' latest issue of the Brussels Briefing on Energy provides an extensive update on the latest policy developments and what to expect for the near future in the field of energy policy.

"The carbon target by itself will not be enough"

23 May 2013 by Ron van Duuren

Recently viEUws spoke with Richard Cowart, Director of the European programmes at the Regulatory Assistance Project, on energy efficiency in the European Union. He believes a policy that does not drive aggressively towards removing the wasted use of energy will fail because it will be too expensive, too slow and too dirty. "The carbon target by itself will not be enough."

Can Europe join the Shale Gas Revolution?

18 April 2013 by Ron van Duuren

Last March, the European Commission launched a Green Paper with the 2030 goals for Energy and Climate. At the time, Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger said: "I am in favour of producing shale gas, particularly for safety reasons, and to reduce gas prices." And he added. "In the United States, which is a big producer of shale gas, the price of gas is four times less than in Europe."

Completing the European Internal Energy Market

18 April 2013 by Ron van Duuren

Following a Communication from the European Commission (EC) last November, assessing the state of play of the internal energy market, to be completed by 2014, the European Parliament's Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (INTRE) will vote on its own report in May. The EC's document highlights the benefits of a truly integrated European market for citizens and business.

CNN Money on "The Switzerland of the Middle East"

11 April 2013 by Ron van Duuren

Recently, CNN Money made a video report about the Kurdish oil economy - or "The Switzerland of the Middle East" as the region is called. It might have escaped your attention, so we've blogged it for you.

Brussels Briefing on Environment

27 March 2013 by Ron van Duuren

The March edition of viEUws' Brussels Briefing on Environment provides an extensive update on the latest policy developments, including energy topics such as Climate and Energy Policy 2030, ETS and the back-loading proposal, Indirect Land-Use Change (ILUC) and biofuels.

Olivier Onidi on the Alternative Fuel Strategy

21 March 2013 by Ron van Duuren

On 24 January 2013, the European Commission proposed a package of measures aimed at reducing Europe’s reliance on oil and boosting the uptake of alternative fuels such as electricity, natural gas and hydrogen. Policy initiatives so far have mostly addressed the actual fuels and vehicles without considering fuel distribution. This time, policy makers propose a mandatory roll-out of alternative fuel infrastructure, including numerical targets for Member States in terms of electric car charging stations, and obligatory natural gas refuelling points for ships.

viEUws on Indirect Land Use Change

14 March 2013 by Ron van Duuren

In October 2012, the Commission published a proposal to limit global land conversion for biofuel production. The use of food-based biofuels to meet the 10% renewable energy target of the Renewable Energy Directive will be limited to 5%. There is also a requirement that biofuel factories reduce greenhouse gas emission from fossil fuels by at least 60%. But this will only apply to new plants built after 2014.

Internal Energy Market: a dogfight

7 March 2013 by Ron van Duuren

Yesterday our friends at viEUws broadcasted their monthly 'Brussels Briefing on Energy'. Hughes Belin takes us trough the latest policy developments in the field of European energy, including the Directive for the Safety of Offshore Oil and Gas Activities, a Future Energy and Climate Package for 2030 and the Internal Energy Market - of which Philip Lowe, Director-General for Energy at the European Commission, promised "it will be a dogfight to make sure that the directives and regulations aren't just partially transposed but fully transposed."

Eastern Winds

21 February 2013 by Ron van Duuren

Wind power in Central and Eastern Europe will become a significant source of electricity production by 2020 - but only if there is stability for investors, according to a recent report by the European Wind Energy Association.

Brussels Briefing on Energy

11 February 2013 by Ron van Duuren

In this latest issue of the Brussels Briefing on Energy, leading energy journalist Hughes Belin provides an extensive update on the latest policy developments and what to expect for the near future in the field of energy policy.

Left-liberals for nuclear power!

7 February 2013 by Karel Beckman

At EER we received a rather remarkable press release last week, which we will reproduce in part. It's about a new, "lefty" documentary film that comes out in favour of nuclear power. Here it is:

Irish priorities on energy

7 January 2013 by Ron van Duuren

Ireland's Presidency of the Council of the European Union began on January 1st 2013 and runs for the first half of the year. Leading energy journalist Hughes Belin met Irish Energy Minister Pat Rabbitte to discuss the Irish Presidency's key priorities in the field of energy policy. Topics include safety of offshore drilling, internal energy market, renewables and biofuels/ILUC.

Dieter Helm's new thriller separates climate fiction from fact

4 January 2013 by Karel Beckman

Dieter Helm's new book "The Carbon Crunch" reads a bit like a detective novel. It is about "who killed climate policy". And how we can revive the corpse.



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