Tuesday, September 21, 2021

GWPF Newsletter: Britain faces food shortages as energy crisis shuts down factories


Greenflation: Household bills to soar by more than £1,500 a year

In this newsletter:

1) Britain faces food shortages as energy crisis shuts down factories
GWPF Energy, 18 September 2021
2) UK energy groups in emergency talks with government over natural gas crisis 
Financial Times, 18 September 2021

3) Europe faces bleak winter energy crisis years in the making
Bloomberg, 18 September 2021
4) EU energy crisis: Brussels faces 'tough' reality check over 'challenging' green policy
 Daily Express, 18 September 2021

5) Greenflation: Household bills to soar by more than £1,500 a year, analysts warn
Daily Mail, 18 September 2021
6) Becalmed wind energy sector has UK turning to coal
Business Daily, 18 September 2021
7) And finally: Leaders of China, India, and other major economies snub Biden’s climate forum

Full details:

1) Britain faces food shortages as energy crisis shuts down factories
GWPF Energy, 18 September 2021

As energy prices in Europe go through the roof, factories are beginning to shut down and food is disappearing from the shelves. Welcome to green Britain, offering a foretaste of what life will be like under Net Zero conditions – poorer, colder, hungrier – unless Government changes course.

Food shortages looming after factory closures hit production
Acute food shortages were feared last night after high gas prices forced most of Britain’s commercial production of carbon dioxide to shut down.
Emergency talks were being held between government officials and food producers, retailers and the energy industry with warnings of a “black swan event”, an extremely rare blow with unpredictable consequences.

The closure of two fertiliser plants in northern England and others in Europe has left the food and drink industry facing a shortage of carbon dioxide, which is a byproduct of fertiliser manufacturing. The gas is critical to the production and transport of a range of products, from meat to bread, beer and fizzy drinks.

The meat industry estimates that businesses can carry on for less than two weeks before carbon dioxide stocks run out….

One head of a British chain called it a “black swan type of event” and warned that the ripple effect on the agricultural industry was only starting to be appreciated by the government and other supermarkets. “They have been caught out by this and only starting to grasp the level of the problem,” they added.

Full story
2) UK energy groups in emergency talks with government over natural gas crisis 
Financial Times, 18 September 2021

UK Business and Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng is making emergency calls to some of Britain’s biggest energy groups today to stave off a crisis in the sector, as fears grow that record high gas and power prices could send a “tsunami” of suppliers to the wall.

Five smaller suppliers have gone out of business since the start of August as surging wholesale prices have left companies with insufficient hedging strategies or weak balance sheets unable to cover the cost of the energy they have committed to supply.

There are growing concerns among CEOs of the bigger suppliers that the five, including People’s Energy and Utility Point, with 570,000 domestic customers between them, are just the tip of the iceberg.

Energy consultancy Baringa has said there may be “less than 10 suppliers by the time we come through winter”. At the end of March, there were still 49 domestic suppliers, according to the latest available market share data from Ofgem.

A director at one big energy supplier called the situation “unprecedented” and said there may be a “tsunami” of supplier failures which would put severe pressure on Ofgem’s process for ensuring the customers of those businesses are reallocated to another company....

Soaring gas prices have had a knock-on effect on power prices, particularly in countries such as Britain where the fuel is the biggest single source of electricity generation.

Low wind speeds have added to the high electricity prices, while outages at other power stations, plus a fire at Britain’s main subsea electricity cable from France on Wednesday, have led to concerns over whether there will be sufficient supplies over winter.

Full story
3) Europe faces bleak winter energy crisis years in the making
Bloomberg, 18 September 2021

Europe is bracing for a tough winter as an energy crisis that’s been years in the making leaves the continent relying on the vagaries of the weather.

Faced with surging gas and electricity prices, countries from the U.K. to Germany will need to count on mild temperatures to get through the heating season. Europe is short of gas and coal and if the wind doesn’t blow, the worst-case scenario could play out: widespread blackouts that force businesses and factories to shut.

The unprecedented energy crunch has been brewing for years, with Europe growing increasingly dependent on intermittent sources of energy such as wind and solar while investments in fossil fuels declined. Environmental policy has also pushed some countries to shut their coal and nuclear fleets, reducing the number of power plants that could serve as back-up in times of shortages.

“It could get very ugly unless we act quickly to try to fill every inch of storage,” said Marco Alvera, chief executive officer of Italian energy infrastructure company Snam SpA. “You can survive a week without electricity, but you can’t survive without gas.”

Energy demand is rising from the U.S. to Europe and Asia as economies recover from the global pandemic, boosting industrial activity and fueling concerns about inflation. Prices are so high in Europe that two major fertilizer producers announced they were shutting plants or curtailing production in the region.

And it’s not just businesses. Governments are also concerned about the blow to households already contending with higher costs of everything from food to transport. As power and gas prices break records day after day, Spain, Italy, Greece and France are all stepping in to protect consumers from inflation.

“It will be expensive for consumers, it will be expensive for big energy users,” Dermot Nolan, a former chief executive officer of U.K. energy regulator Ofgem, said in a Bloomberg TV interview. “Electricity and gas prices are going to be higher at home than everybody would want and they are going to be higher than they have been for about 12 years.”

Europe’s gas prices have more than tripled this year as top supplier Russia has been curbing the additional deliveries the continent needs to refill its depleted storage sites after a cold winter last year. It’s been hard to get hold of alternative supplies, with North Sea fields undergoing heavy maintenance after pandemic-induced delays, and Asia scooping up cargoes of liquefied natural gas to meet rising demand there.

Higher gas prices boosted the cost of producing electricity as renewables faltered. Low wind speeds forced European utilities to burn expensive coal, depleting stockpiles of the dirtiest of fossil fuels. Energy policy also played a role, with the cost of polluting in the European Union surging more than 80% this year.

“Gas supply is short, coal supply is short and renewables aren’t going great, so we are now in this crazy situation,” said Dale Hazelton, head of thermal coal at Wood Mackenzie Ltd. “Coal companies just don’t have supply available, they can’t get the equipment, the manufacturers are backed up and they don’t really want to invest.”

European gas inventories are at their lowest level in more than a decade for this time of year. Gazprom PJSC’s CEO Alexey Miller said Europe will enter the winter in about a month without fully replenishing its buffer stockpiles. The Russian gas giant has been pushing to start its controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

Europe now needs favorable weather. While forecasters say temperatures are unlikely to plunge below normal next month, expectations can always change. Similar weather forecasts did not materialize last year, resulting in a bitter temperatures that sent LNG prices in Asia to a record in January.

“It may happen again,” said Ogan Kose, a managing director at Accenture. “If we end up having a very cold winter in Asia as well as in Europe, then we may end up seeing a ridiculous spike in gas prices.”

In 2018, a deep freeze that became known as the Beast from the East took energy traders by surprise. This year there’s also a chance that a La Nina weather pattern would develop again. While the phenomenon can bring warm weather to Europe, it tends to send temperatures plummeting in Asia.

The U.S. Climate Prediction Center said there’s a 66% chance that a La Nina pattern will return some time from November to January. That could exacerbate the fight for LNG cargoes, as buyers from Japan to India start panic buying due to fears of competition with Europe.

“Unfortunately, the way the weather works, when it’s cold, it is cold: it’s cold for the U.S., it’s cold for Europe and then it gets cold for Asia,” said Snam’s Alvera, who is betting on hydrogen as the future for green energy markets.

Europe will need to curtail demand if the winter is cold, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. said, predicting the region will face blackouts. There are already signs of stress, with CF Industries Holdings Inc. shutting two fertilizer plants in the U.K. and Yara International ASA will have curtailed its ammonia production capacity by 40% by next week.

Shutdowns also risk hitting the food supply chain, which uses a byproduct of fertilizer production in everything from meat processing to beer. The sugar and starch industries are also affected, with France’s Tereos SCA and Roquette Freres SA warning of higher energy costs.

And it doesn’t stop there. Europe top copper producer Aurubis AG said higher prices will continue to squeeze margins through the rest of the year. Even chemicals giant BASF SE, which produces most of its power, said it has been unable to fully swerve the impact of record-breaking electricity prices.

Supplies are unlikely to improve significantly any time soon. Russia is facing an energy crunch of its own and Gazprom is directing its additional production to domestic inventories. Prices could stay high even if Europe ends up with a mild winter, said Fabian Ronningen, an analyst at energy consultant Rystad Energy AS.

“With natural gas prices already hitting record highs in Europe ahead of rising winter demand, prices could move even higher in the coming months,” said Stacey Morris, director of research at index provider Alerian in Dallas. “There is a potential it can get worse.”
4) EU energy crisis: Brussels faces 'tough' reality check over 'challenging' green policy
 Daily Express, 18 September 2021

The European Union faces the risk a full-blown energy crisis as nations look to phase out fossil fuels to meet the bloc's green energy agenda, an expert has told

As part of its long-term strategy against climate change, the European Union has committed to becoming climate-neutral by 2050.
The ambitious target includes heavily investing in renewable sources of energy, like wind and solar, and the gradual phasing out of fossil fuels - the leading source of greenhouse emissions. According to the European Commission, the transition to net-zero is an "urgent challenge" but one that will "build a better future of all".

Some experts, however, fear the push for green is too ambitious and could plunge the continent into the depths of an energy crisis.

According to Craig Golinowski, managing partner at Carbon Infrastructure Partners (CIP), countries that have vowed to eliminate fossils fuels are at least 50 years out from achieving this goal.

He told "Human beings have not hit peak demand for coal. Oil and natural gas demand will grow for decades.

"There is no alternative to fossils fuels today, tomorrow and for decades to come.

"It's a tough message for people to accept. Denying the reality or deluded people to thinking otherwise will result in energy crises." ...

Mr Golinowski said: "History tells us that energy transitions are protracted affairs.

"Over the next 50 years, progress can be made to add renewables and nuclear to the mix.

"Today, fossil fuels are 85 percent of primary energy and demand for energy is growing."

The problem, he believes, is that renewables are intermittent and that could make them unreliable sources of power.

In other words, their output is not consistent throughout a 24-hour day.

Solar only generates power during the day and wind farms require the right weather conditions for optimal output.

There is, consequently, concern wind and solar might not keep up with an increased demand for power, particularly during harsh winters.

Mr Golinowski said: "The reality is that California, Texas and Europe are demonstrating that mid 20 percent market share of intermittent renewables is extremely challenging and unreliable."

Full story
5) Greenflation: Household bills to soar by more than £1,500 a year, analysts warn
Daily Mail, 18 September 2021

A cost of living crisis will see average households’ bills soar by more than £1,500 a year, experts warn today. Families are now on the cusp of the biggest spending squeeze in nearly a decade as bills and prices rise relentlessly.

Money experts said a ‘perfect storm’ of price and tax hikes could push family finances to the limit across the country.

Energy prices have rocketed this week, leading to suppliers pulling deals and predictions that average households could soon face paying over £400 extra a year on power bills.
A year ago, the best one-year fixed deal on comparison website Energy Helpline was £855 – but last night the cheapest available was more than double that at £1,895.
Full story
6) Becalmed wind energy sector has UK turning to coal
Business Daily, 18 September 2021

The UK’s windpower drive has dramatically cut carbon emissions, but it’s also created a vulnerability that’s been brutally exposed.

Calm weather over the past two weeks has cut output from the country’s 11,000 turbines, which account for more than 20% of electricity generation. Coupled with a Europe-wide gas shortage, the crunch has forced some companies to halt operations, which could hold back the economy if they become more widespread.

The disastrous combination is another headache for Prime Minister Boris Johnson at a time the country is already struggling with a shortage of workers that’s disrupted industry and retailers. On top of that, higher energy costs for consumers may damp the spending that’s helped drive the rebound from the pandemic recession.

The crisis could also spark a fresh backlash against renewable energy and net-zero emissions targets. That would make for an unwelcome backdrop as the UK prepares to host world leaders at a major climate summit — COP26 — in a few weeks.

Britain plans to quadruple offshore wind capacity by 2030 as part of its efforts to be net zero by 2050. But a smooth transition from fossils to greener fuels isn’t guaranteed, and regular capacity crunches could become the norm. Along with worries about higher prices, that will make ambitious climate goals a much harder sell.

“This is going to be a political autumn crisis,” said Dieter Helm, professor of economic policy at Oxford University and energy policy adviser to the government. “It goes together with the delusion that people have that net zero is almost costless. It isn’t.”

The alternative to backtracking on the net-zero timetable is an overhaul of Britain’s power market to make it fit better with growing renewable usage rather than tinkering with a system based around the fossil fuels of the past.

In the short term, the pressing problem is ensuring energy for the coming winter.

While grid operators plan for intermittency in wind power, the latest drop coincided with a Europe-wide squeeze on natural gas, nuclear outages and a fire at a key power interconnector with France.

Britain has already turned to coal-burning stations to fill the energy shortfall, but there’s a gap emerging there. By 2024 there will be no more coal stations left, and five of the UK’s eight nuclear plants will also be halted permanently.
Full story
7) And finally: Leaders of China, India, and other major economies snub Biden’s climate forum
The Washington Examiner, 17 September 2021
A number of key world leaders were notably absent from President Joe Biden’s Friday morning climate forum.
Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, representing the two countries the scientific community believes are the linchpins in effectively combating climate change, did not participate in the reconvening of the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate. Both leaders took part in the first forum, held by the White House in spring 2021.
French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and other European heads of state also did not participate, though the continent was represented by European Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
The remaining participants, per White House officials, included President Alberto Fernandez of Argentina, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh, President Joko Widodo of Indonesia, President Moon Jae-in of South Korea, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador of Mexico, Prime Minister Boris Johnson of the United Kingdom, and United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. Biden, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry spoke on behalf of the United States.

Biden used his opening remarks on Friday to frame the climate debate as an “inflection point” for the global community, mirroring language he rolled out to frame the congressional debate over his social safety net package the day prior.

“There’s a real consensus, a real consensus that while the climate crisis poses an existential threat, there is a silver lining the climate crisis also presents real and incredible economic opportunities to create jobs, lift up the standard of living for people around the world,” he said.
“We know there’s still a lot of work to do, and if anything, our job, in my view, is growing more urgent.”

The White House did not answer questions by press time on why certain world leaders did not participate in Friday’s event.
Full story

The London-based Global Warming Policy Forum is a world leading think tank on global warming policy issues. The GWPF newsletter is prepared by Director Dr Benny Peiser - for more information, please visit the website at

No comments: