EU leaders, desperate to give economic growth a boost, are talking about targeting energy policy. They are concerned a US-led revolution in shale oil and gas development will reshape the global economy and leave Europe far behind.
* energy costs remain high in the EU
* Europe paid one billion euros a day for its energy imports in 2012
* Europe risks becoming the only continent to depend on imported energy
* In 2035, Europe could still depend on imports for more than 80 percent of their energy needs
* one trillion euros in energy investment is needed by 2020
* Britain, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Spain favor developing shale energy but others, and France in particular, are opposed, citing the environmental issues involved.
* The public in many countries fear hydrofracking
* public fears of nuclear energy is also causing Germany and other countries to make costly shifts from nuclear energy
Which european fears will win ?
Fears of being left behind economically ?
Fears of high unemployment ?
Fears of hydrofracking ?
Fears of nuclear energy ?
Environmental fears ?
Cheap natural gas is cheap energy and cheap chemical feedstock for Industrial processes
Motivated by a rapid-fire increase in natural gas production in the United States, business leaders and some politicians in Germany say they need to act quickly to prevent the country’s industrial core from departing for places where energy costs just a fraction of the price. They worry that the country’s ambitious environmental goals are far less meaningful if the economy withers in achieving them.
The U.S. price for natural gas in 2012 was just a quarter that of Europe’s, a gap that has opened in just a few years.
Lower feedstock and energy cost could help US manufacturers reduce natural gas expenses by as much as $11.6 billion annually through 2025.
For chemical companies, the impact of shale gas has been to decrease the cost of both raw materials and energy. The price of US natural gas has declined and prices are expected to decline further, at least in the short term, as a result of excess inventory. Based on industry reports, we estimate that the US chemicals industry has invested $15 billion in ethylene production, increasing capacity by 33%. As these investments take hold, yielding more supply, the United States could become a major, global, low-cost provider of energy and feedstocks to the chemical industry.
Russia, China and other energy powers also are exploring fracking as questions about the environmental consequences of the technique remain. Smaller countries such as Poland are seeking the technology for political reasons, hoping to break free from dependence on Russian gas. Still other countries, such as France, have imposed moratoriums as they seek to learn more about the risks of the practice.
Germany aims to phase out nuclear power by 2022, reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050 compared with 1990 levels and sharply ramp up the power it generates from renewable sources — an ambitious set of policies that it calls its energy transition. But many of the calculations about the costs of Germany’s environmental plans assumed that fossil fuels would grow scarcer and therefore more expensive. That would have meant that energy costs in other countries would have risen along with Germany’s, even if others were not pouring up to $1.3 trillion into green efforts in the coming decades, as Germany is doing.
Instead, rather than becoming more competitive on energy prices, Germany is becoming less so. German consumers and industries find their energy costs going up just as they are dropping elsewhere. Coal — among the dirtiest sources of energy — is rising in Germany’s energy mix, in part because it is cheaper than alternatives.
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Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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