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You know one of the reasons that gas consumption is up in  the EU is because (with the exception of France) many of the new electric plants are gas fired, replacing older coal or oil fired plants.  

Depending on the fraction of electric output that comes from gas, one plausible option might be total replacement by renewables like wind and solar.  And creating grid connections to link up Norwegian hydro to the the UK and Eastern Europe. And as solar becomes more feasible to North Africa.

In the long term, replacing gas heating with electric forced air would allow the EU to eliminate the need for Russian natural gas imports.  And Russian threats on oil would have no weight, because there's not the same infrastructure bottlenecks that limit suppliers with natural gas.

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Fri Aug 15th, 2008 at 04:00:05 AM EST
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Indeed. Trouble is we're not going down that road decisively enough. (Not, I hasten to add, that we should want to cut off relations with Russia).
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Aug 15th, 2008 at 04:13:43 AM EST
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What gets me is that for all the people screaming about the threat of Russia cutting of the gas, you don't hear pundits suggesting that a program of energy self-sufficiency would alleviate the political tensions created by the economics of gas supply.

Rather, the argument is that there must be free access to Russian gas at prices that are the preference of other European states.

The aversion to autarky as a means to piece comes not in the least from the ideological trauma that comes from admitting that free trade may create conflict as much as alleviate it.

One of the real ironies of the "protectionist" school and the works of Friederich List, is that because he was a German, there's this assumption that protectionism must be militaristic.

But if you read the National system of political economy, List makes clear that the greatest way of encouraging peace between states is through systems of national political economy that allow political interactions of states not to be tainted by differences in the economic power of states.  Peace comes when trade is not an instrument of foreign policy that allows dominant states to dominate, and lesser states to be forced to accept the will of larger states.

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Fri Aug 15th, 2008 at 06:18:18 AM EST
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work both ways: existing pipelines mean that Russia can only send its gas to where the pipelines go, ie to Europe (or nowhere at all).

The gas relationship is a co-dependency, and the "energy weapon" goes both ways, as the Poles and Ukrainians have amply demonstrated by holding the transit gas hostage.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Aug 15th, 2008 at 06:26:39 AM EST
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I know that Union Fenosa is down in Egypt trying set up LNG export facilities.

I have to wonder what the long term impact of LNG is.

Conceivably, with enough loading and unloading infrastructure, I suppose that you could eliminate a lot of these bottlenecks.  Creating a more fungible market like with petroleum today.

Of course it seems like this would involved building a lot of infrastructure at high cost.

It seems like it would be far more prudent for EU governments to subsidize domestic alternatives, so that the EU isn't as dependent on Russian gas.  

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Fri Aug 15th, 2008 at 06:35:16 AM EST
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just won't die.

LNG is just as capital intensive as pipelines, and creates supply chaines that are as rigid, for the same reasons - all the investment is upfront and can only be repaid onver long periods, thus requiring very long, very constraining contracts.

A LNG production facility needs a dedicated LNG regaz facility on the other side, and dedicated LNG tankers (committed to the route between the two) for 20-25 years, and the contracts that formalize that.

It is true that you can reroute a LNG tanker to another destination if you make a profit doing so (shared usually between the seller and the committed buyer), but that's not quite enough to create a liquid market: first of all, the trade unit size is a cargo, ie 100-200 million cubic meters (at current prices: $50-60 million), and the players can only be parties to existing contracts, and holders of capacity in existing terminals.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Aug 15th, 2008 at 07:12:19 AM EST
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Of course it seems like this would involved building a lot of infrastructure at high cost.

It seems like it would be far more prudent for EU governments to subsidize domestic alternatives, so that the EU isn't as dependent on Russian gas.

and who wants to build that infrastructure?

when they know in 20-30 years it'll be obsolete and redundant?

this is the cognitive dissonance that the general public hasn't clued in on yet.

but they will...by process of elimination.

the choices reduce and highlight better the contrast. so damn stark when you stare into it:

left....energy independence, a serious, sustainable infrastructure planned and built to last much longer than a couple of decades, or right, the delirium of berlusconi's 1000 new nuke plants, endless subservience to autocratic fossil fuel distribution bottlenecks, (with ever higher body counts), cops on every corner.

you'd have to be a fully corrupted, paid-off masochist, or an imbecile to think we should take the latter.

yet that's what it's coming down to. and the media will be the last to know, because they're so well paid not to... meanwhile our leaders take us out further on the rotting limb...

how long can they blithely continue to call up down?

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Fri Aug 15th, 2008 at 09:06:23 AM EST
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