German Industry: An Energy House-of-Cards

Thursday, April 07, 2022

Der Speigel asks, "What if the Gas Is Cut Off?" in a lengthy and disturbing report about the vulnerability of German industry to disruptions in its brittle energy supply chain -- caused by green energy policy and the foolish assumption that Russia would be a reliable supplier of energy.

Major industries that occupy fundamental upstream positions in the German economy (and therefore, that of the West) are quite vulnerable.

Among them is chemical sector, the one I am most concerned about:

An industrial fertilizer plant in England. (Image by Sharon Loxton, via Wikipedia, license.)
If up to 30 percent less than the normal demand were obtained, production of the major gas guzzlers ammonia and acetylene could be reduced to the technical minimum, which would lead to a shortage of the goods produced from them. Scenarios two and three would have more serious consequences. If BASF only received around 50 percent of its gas requirements, other basic products such as synthesis gases would be drastically reduced. Depending on the scenario, there would be a shortage of important basic products that go into plastics, pharmaceuticals, crop protection products, disinfectants and fuels and packaging, among others. The consequences would be felt by a number of industries and households. If the gas supply at BASF falls below the 50-percent threshold, the entire chemical park in Ludwigshafen would have to be shut down. "We hope and demand that we be allocated at least 70 percent of our maximum requirement in the long term as part of an allocation plan to avert major damage to the German economy," Liebelt says. Especially given that BASF's power plants are systemically relevant according to Germany's Energy Industry Act. [bold added]
Food production and food preservation could take big hits, how big depending on how important German production is worldwide. Recall that the production of ammonia in industrial quantities accounts for half of the nitrogen found in human tissues via the Haber Process, also known as the "detonator of the population explosion."

I don't know how much of the world's ammonia is being produced in Germany, but I bet it's significant.

-- CAV

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