Doomberg: Nuclear Can Help EU Close Gas Gap

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

A major obstacle to crippling Russia's economy is the fact that, thanks to decades of green energy policy, Europe has become heavily dependent on it for oil and natural gas: There is no painless way for the continent to boycott Russia, and indeed, Russia has a powerful deterrent and weapon at its disposal in the form of a threat to cut off the gas.

Doomberg does a great job discussing this problem, first by cutting through the fog that a lack of universally-used units causes in sizing up the problem and gauging the viability of solutions.

The piece is worth reading for that alone, as well as for its explanation for why the US and other major gas-producing countries can't just send more liquefied natural gas (LNG) over. One biggie: Germany has zero LNG terminals, and the nearest ones are years away. Pipeline capacity from Spain, which has terminals, is limiting, too.

But it's towards the end, when Doomberg discusses nuclear, that I found the most value:

Image by Patrick Federi, via Unsplash, license.
We close with something that is frustratingly absent from Europe's current thinking (at least at the continent level): a nuclear energy renaissance. According to an admittedly ambitious plan from RePlanet called Switch Off Putin: Ukraine Energy Solidarity Plan, by simply arresting and reversing the nuclear phase-out underway in Germany, Sweden, and Belgium, Europe can offset 1.4 bcf/d of Russian gas (or approximately 10% of the gap). Further, by implementing emergency funding to substantially improve the performance of France's existing nuclear fleet, another 2.5 bcf/d can be offset (approximately 17% of the gap). Although France and the UK have recently announced major nuclear power expansion plans, Germany is still resisting, and its final three nuclear power plants are scheduled for permanent closure by the end of this year. One wonders how much pain Germans will have to suffer before this nonsensical policy stance is reversed. We suspect we won't have to wait long to find out. [link and formatting removed]
A nuclear renaissance alone could close over a quarter of the natural gas gap.

I recall being frustrated at hearing that Germany was reconsidering its foolish plan to finish choking off its nuclear capacity -- only to reaffirm its previous course.

Let's hope Doomberg is right, and Germany does end up reversing this completely irrational policy.

-- CAV

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