The war between Ukraine and Russia has started, and the global energy has also started a stealth war! You may have noticed that the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline, which links Russia and Germany along the Baltic Sea, continues to be the focus of discussions, as Germany needs to import a lot of natural gas from Russia to generate electricity and heat.
At the same time, the European Commission issued an amendment to the “Sustainable Finance Classification Standard” to include nuclear energy and natural gas in the category of ” sustainable energy “.
Nuclear energy and natural gas as Sustainable Energy
The simple understanding is that the use of nuclear energy and natural gas that meets the requirements of EU regulations will be considered sustainable, economic behavior. The European Parliament and the Council will have in-depth discussions within a few months, and it is generally believed that it will be adopted due to the majority of support countries in the EU.
Many people think that nuclear power generation is very problematic, but most people know that thermal power generation has high pollution and carbon emissions. Natural gas power generation is also a type of thermal power generation. Why is it all put into sustainable energy? Germany advocates non-nuclear, and at the same time abandons coal, why use natural gas?
Energy games, geopolitics and international competition and global layout
The ideal of carbon neutrality is very full, and the energy reality is very skinny. Any energy policy adjustment involves energy games, geopolitics and international competition and global layout
In the real world, the energy options that humans can use are limited, and there are basically no four types of coal, oil, gas, and electricity. In the metaverse, we imagine ourselves as creators, but the metaverse also uses electricity.
Think about a life situation. If the weather is very cold, you need to turn on the heating to maintain a basic healthy temperature. You can use coal heating, natural gas heating, and electric heaters for heating.
Each option has sources, equipment, safety, environmental concerns, and limited budgets. In the end a decision has to be made, no matter what or what to choose, the indoor temperature must be above 15°C. There is a relationship of competition and substitution among energy sources, and the key is to achieve the basic goals.
The anti-nuclear Germany needs natural gas to support and “transition” the power system, and even China’s “power rationing” incident that occurred earlier, perfectly interprets the game relationship between various energy options, geopolitics and the global layout of international competition.
As we all know, the EU has been playing a role as a model student and leader in responding to climate change, advocating and implementing energy transition, vigorously promoting energy from fossil fuels to renewable energy, and preventing oil companies from investing heavily in oil and gas exploration.
However, without nuclear power, the growth of renewable energy is insufficient, and the energy transition has endangered energy security. Buying natural gas from Russia has become the best choice. In the past two years, the northern hemisphere has been severely cold in winter, and buyers in Europe, the United States, and Asia have begun to rush to build up inventories in the summer.
In the electricity market of EU countries, the final price of electricity is linked to the “most expensive fuel price” that meets expected demand. So expensive natural gas is converted into expensive electricity bills, and people who buy electricity naturally suffer.
Energy policy is not limited to leaders’ ideas and national policy direction, but also involves the global layout of energy games, geopolitics and international competition.
When you need natural gas from someone else’s house, and you have to pull another pipeline, it is difficult to be a young man. Making pragmatic decisions using big-picture thinking is a necessity, not an option.
Global thinking, pragmatic decision-making
Do you still think the EU is political and “greenwashing”? Please don’t think like this, because this is actually “big-picture thinking, pragmatic decision-making”.
First of all, we have to confirm that this is in what entity category is this decision-making, global? area? nation? County? Obviously, climate change is a global issue, and energy supply and use have regional characteristics, are closely related to geopolitics, and have a game relationship with energy.
Next, what is the decision-making goal? The EU believes that the most important and uncompromising goal of all goals is to achieve the carbon reduction goal.
Next, consider your own constraints, including national economic development goals, business survival, social stability, people’s well-being, limited energy options, inconsistent views across countries, opposition from local people, and maintaining the EU’s international image.
Obviously, the inclusion of nuclear energy and natural gas will cause a certain degree of damage to the overall image, but based on scientific and technological constraints and regional political cooperation considerations, it has become an acceptable political reality.
It is not easy to achieve net zero emissions
The situation in Ukraine has caused huge fluctuations in global crude oil prices. We still rely on the old tricks: the electricity price stabilization fund and the oil price cap, and buffer the immediate challenges through the losses of state-owned enterprises. Now that the 2050 net-zero emissions target has been announced, what is our overall thinking and decision-making model?
Global social culture has a characteristic recently: you want everything. But cheap, convenience and pollution and carbon emissions often go hand in hand, and freedom and responsibility go hand in hand. If I want stable power supply, low electricity price, environmental protection, low carbon, and non-nuclear power, the power plant cannot be next to my house, which is technically impossible.
Most countries’ energy is imported. It is impossible to buy nuclear power from France like an anti-nuclear Germany, and the public is accustomed to oppose neighboring power supply facilities. If net-zero emissions by 2050 becomes the top priority of many goals, how far should this “multi-goal” decision be compromised to ensure that the decision is “solved”?
The solution is the same as in the EU: think globally, make pragmatic decisions. The essence of carbon neutrality is competition, a game on a global scale, and the leader can set the rules of the game.
Those who do not plan for the world are not enough for a moment; those who do not plan for the overall situation are not enough for one area. We must think about carbon neutrality and net zero emissions from a strategic perspective, plan the large system and corresponding subsystems, and recognize that it is impossible to achieve all goals at the same time.
And respect the science and engineering majors, let engineers solve problems, figure out what the target sequence is, face the constant trend of climate change becoming a state of emergency, and respond to the ever-changing international economic, trade and geopolitical changes at any time.
In the 1970s, many people experienced the energy crisis and witnessed the competition between supply and demand as well as geopolitical and diplomatic competition in which various energy resources replaced each other.
Now the global energy game is on again. In this case, it is not easy to achieve net zero emissions, from the declaration (pledge) to the plan (plan), and after careful implementation (proceed), can there be a result report (publish).
Declaring the target does not mean achieving the target. A detailed national net-zero emissions roadmap is the basic requirement.