…on the other side of the Channel (and especially in Germany). Or so Politico (among others) reports. The situation is covered by EU legislation which, in the inimitable style of the Brussels Eurocrats, runs to fifteen pages. You would have to be something of a masochist to read it all, but probably the key section can be found in the last two paragraphs of section 1.1 (General background and objective):

Moreover, to enhance market transparency and the information of investors, this Delegated Act provides for specific disclosure requirements for the natural gas and nuclear energy sectors by amending the Taxonomy Disclosures Delegated Act. As outlined in the Taxonomy Regulation, the Taxonomy covers more than climate neutral and renewable investments.

It also covers economic activities that are clearly not climate neutral or renewable but could, under strict conditions and for a limited time, enable the transition towards a sustainable energy system, such as the economic activities in the natural gas and nuclear sector. They should not hamper the development of renewable sources.

That, and the detail of the legislation itself, is a long-winded way of saying that the EU is facing an energy crisis thanks to its existing “green” energy policies, and so, for the time being, nuclear and gas are OK after all.

Politico put it more succinctly than the EU legislators:

EU lawmakers… voted in favor of a European Commission proposal to allow nuclear and natural gas-fired power plants to be marketed as sustainable investments on financial markets.

Under the new rules — known as the taxonomy— new gas-fired plants built through 2030 will be recognized as a transitional energy source as long as they replace a coal- or fuel oil-fired plant, switch to a low-carbon gas like hydrogen by 2035 and stay under a maximum emissions cap over 20 years.

Existing nuclear plants will receive a green label if they pledge to switch to so-called accident-tolerant fuels beginning in 2025 and detail plans for final storage of radioactive waste in 2050.

I’m a little late to the party with this information, but I think it’s worth mentioning here, around three weeks after the event, because it amounts to an admission that at least one aspect of the “green” “net zero” agenda isn’t working and has had to be changed, even if only temporarily (for exactly how long remains to be seen).

Despite the energy crisis facing the EU, and the obvious need for the change to be made, so deep-rooted is the Green Blob that it wasn’t easy at all. 328 MEPs supported the plan, while 278 objected, and 33 abstained. The Commission’s advisory Platform on Sustainable Finance opposed the move, and it has been sharply criticised by “green” campaigners. Indeed:

Greens MEP Marie Toussaint, who campaigned hard to defeat the file, blasted the outcome as “an odious greenwashing attempt with Macron as conductor” and “a failure for Europe and the climate.”

Germany is immediately taking advantage:

Germany will bail out gas importer Uniper, Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Friday, promising to do “what is necessary and as long as it is necessary” to help keep the country afloat amid fears of a Russia-driven energy crisis.

Speaking to reporters in Berlin, Scholz — who interrupted his summer holidays in the Bavarian Alps for the announcement — said his government would acquire 30 percent of Uniper, Germany’s biggest gas importer, as well as provide €7.7 billion in government support and expand a credit line from the state-run KfW investment bank from €2 billion to €9 billion.

The chancellor also announced “further relief” measures “on a permanent basis” to shield citizens from increasing energy prices caused by Russia’s war on Ukraine. The move contravenes signals earlier this week from the government’s finance minister, who insisted that strict fiscal planning left little wiggle room for further support packages for citizens….

…Scholz stressed Friday that the Uniper bailout was necessary because the energy firm “is of paramount importance for the economic development of our country.” …

The position should be contrasted with the UK, whose political and media establishments apparently remain firmly committed to net zero. Even the Conservative Party leadership election saw pretty much all of the candidates committing, even if a little uneasily in one or two cases, to continue supporting the net zero agenda. The BBC and the Guardian continue campaigning as relentlessly as ever.

Meanwhile, back in Europe, “EU allows get-out clause in Russian gas cut deal”. The BBC tells us that:

European Union members have agreed to cut gas use in case Russia halts supplies but some countries will have exemptions to avoid rationing.

However, we also learn that the deal is voluntary (a bit like the agreements signed pursuant to all those COPs) Also:

…some countries not connected to the EU’s gas pipe lines, such as Ireland, Malta and Cyprus, would be exempt from any mandatory gas reduction order [in the future] as they would not be able to source alternative supplies.

Elsewhere the Baltic nations, which are not hooked up to the European electricity system and are heavily reliant on gas for electricity production are also exempt from compulsory targets in order to avoid the risk of an electricity supply crisis.

Countries can also ask to be exempt if they exceed gas storage filling targets, if they are heavily dependent on gas for “critical” industries, or if their gas consumption has increased by at least 8% in the past year compared to the average of the past five years.

In other words, there doesn’t appear to be much willingness to cut down on gas use at all.

Fraser Myers at “spiked” is less than complimentary:

And like many countries, Germany has attempted a disastrous transition to carbon-free energy. The intermittency problems that are inherent to renewable energy mean there are huge energy gaps to fill when the sun doesn’t shine or the wind doesn’t blow. This creates a dependency on gas to fill in the gaps.

Most baffling of all has been Germany’s abandonment of nuclear power. Nuclear energy produces no carbon emissions, but it is still hated and feared by Germany’s green-leaning establishment. In fact, green thinking exercises such a tight grip on the German political class that the German government appears determined not to extend the lifespan of its nuclear power plants – even amid this once-in-a-century energy crisis, and even as it asks for energy-rationing ‘solidarity’ from other countries.

Needless to say, I agree with that, though I’m less convinced by his final paragraph:

The crippling gas cuts to come are not a sign of European strength and solidarity. They are an irrational, dangerous reaction to a crisis decades in the making. And they will leave a lot of ordinary Europeans out in the cold.

This assumes that “crippling gas cuts” will inevitably be made. If gas cannot be sourced for the EU member states from countries other than Russia, then perhaps crippling cuts will have to be made. However, it doesn’t seem to be the plan. The plan seems to be to allow gas to take the strain that has arisen from the general uselessness of renewables.

UK politicians, by contrast, sit smugly on the post-Brexit sidelines, proclaiming that we’re all right, Jack, because we don’t use much Russian gas, and anyway net zero is the way to go. It may yet be UK citizens, rather than EU ones, who are left out in the cold.

11 Comments

  1. Thanks for discovering and sharing the info.

    I was aware of Greenies trying to create perpetual energy by jumping up and down over clean nukes and natural gas being deemed green, but not of the official EU documentation.

    There’s an irony that the products of combustion of natural gas are remarkably similar in composition and %s to what those greenies exhale and fart*

    *Except their farts cause far more olfactory offence than Nat Gas’s PoC.

    This piece “…. gas-fired plants built through 2030 will be recognized as a transitional energy source as long as they replace a coal- or fuel oil-fired plant, switch to a low-carbon gas like hydrogen by 2035…” is interesting in three ways.

    1. France has relatively little oil or coal generation plant.

    2. Some of our qualifying coal plants have been demolished in publicity stunts by Alok, Kwasi & she-who-would-be-Queen-of-Scotland.

    3. Substituting hydrogen for natural gas in gas-turbine generating plants may not be as simple as some politicians (& H2 advocates) think.

    “Injecting hydrogen into the gas network – a literature search
    Prepared by the Health and Safety Laboratory for the Health and Safety Executive 2015” informs in Section 3.7.1.9 Gas turbines:

    “A combustion system particularly sensitive to variations in gas composition is the lean premixed gas turbine. Gas is mixed with high pressure and temperature air and the resultant expanding flames impinge on the turbine blades. Unwanted spontaneous ignition before reaching the burner and flashback of the flame into the burner can both have potentially disastrous effects on the integrity of the machine. At the other extreme, flame blowout is equally unwanted, and even partial flame lift can result in undesirable acoustic instability. A particular concern regarding ignition is the presence of hydrogen; since this gas ignites easily, there is concern that even small quantities of hydrogen in natural gas would be catastrophic for turbine behaviour. To illustrate this apprehension one major turbine manufacturer allows only traces of hydrogen in the fuel gas, while another manufacturer allows only 8.5% of hydrogen (64).” [My bold]

    Click to access rr1047.pdf

    Liked by 2 people

  2. What is an accident tolerant fuel? The mere fact that it is a fuel means it can put out significant energy if conditions are suitable.

    Like

  3. Richard, there’s an excellent article by Brendan O’Neill at Spiked on the emergency powers route to sidestep normal democratic processes:

    “Why Joe Biden must never declare a climate emergency
    A state of emergency would be bad for democracy, freedom and living standards.”

    https://www.spiked-online.com/2022/07/25/why-joe-biden-must-never-declare-a-climate-emergency/

    “One of the most curious sights of the 21st century is radicals taking to the streets to demand a state of emergency. There was a time, back when politics was less crazy, when leftists and liberals were wary of emergency legislation. If a politician so much as uttered the word ‘emergency’ they’d be readying their placards and practicing their slogans. And with good reason. An ‘emergency’ is a deeply authoritarian affair. It involves suspending the normal political process on the basis that there’s a threat on the horizon that is so massive – whether it be terrorism, war, disease or some political ‘enemy within’ – that it cannot be dealt with by mere democratic means. No, only swiftly enforced brute law will do; only the rescinding of civil liberty will suffice.

    Why would anyone actively campaign for such an abnormal and illiberal style of government? And yet here we are, in the 2020s, watching the supposedly right-on line up in their hundreds of thousands to plead with officialdom to put us all under emergency measures. There is now a global campaign for governments to declare a ‘climate emergency’. Green-leaning youths and their cheerleaders in the professional managerial elite march behind banners saying ‘THIS IS AN EMERGENCY’. They gather outside parliament buildings waving placards saying: ‘Declare a climate emergency!’ We’ve come a long way since the generation of 1968. Back then, when West Germany threatened to introduce emergency legislation to deal with radical revolts, students and workers rose up in fury. ‘Freiheit für alle!’’ (‘Freedom for all!’) was their slogan. We’ve gone from youthful agitation against emergency laws in ’68 to youthful pleading for emergency measures in the 2020s, and it beautifully sums up the decline and fall of the radical outlook.

    The weirdly pro-emergency movement is currently angry with President Biden. Last week he stopped short of declaring a climate emergency….”.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Chris asks “What is an accident tolerant fuel?”

    One that won’t cause a nuclear incident.

    However, the explosions at Fukushima Daiichi that blew the roofs off containment structures were not nuclear explosions but Hydrogen explosions.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Mark,

    Thanks to Richard, I recently bought and read Rupert Darwall’s ‘Green Tyranny’. It has already benefitted me by enabling me to have a better informed discussion with Alan regarding acid rain and the Adirondacks. It also provides a good primer in the origins of Germany’s anti-nuclear position and the ideological foundation of Germany’s Green Party. If this is something you are not already offay with, I highly recommend Darwall’s book.

    In the meantime, you will note that Europe’s newly ambivalent policy towards nuclear looks remarkably like the sort of thing Schellnhuber has said in his innumerable interviews.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Those restrictions they are putting on new gas and nuclear plants are, imho, intended to make sure nothing will happen.
    Who would commit to a new CCGT plant, or to modifying an existing one, if it has to use a fuel – green hydrogen – which is highly unlikely to be available in any significant quantity by the deadline?
    Similarly “accident-tolerant” nuclear fuel is still very much on the drawing board. Westinghouse and EdF have just signed a collaboration agreement to look into its development: there’s no way it will be available by 2025.
    Reminds me of the UK govt’s seismic limits on exploratory fracking.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. had never heard of Aaron Heslehurst & his BBC slot before the above comment.

    but searching him on the BEEB he seems a new guy.

    Like

  8. dfhunter, I wondered if he was Harrabin’s replacement, but I see that his brief seems to be business. Being the BBC, of course he has to bring renewables into it. And he ticks all the usual BBC boxes with his programme:

    “Among others we hear from the director of the European Renewable Energy Federation, plus the global boss of private healthcare group BUPA talks to Aaron about their reaction to the war in Ukraine, Covid, staffing levels and Brexit. “

    Like

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