Editorial from the European edition of the WSJ – Wind Fuels Gas
The author of Wind Fuels Gas missed a golden opportunity for a feature spot in the Atomic Insights Smoking Gun series. He produced an exceptional opinion piece linking the political popularity of intermittent renewable energy with the marketing efforts of global fossil fuel companies and pointed out the fuel competition between coal and “natural” gas (aka methane).
Here is a sample quotes:
Today part of the wind power backup in Germany is still done by old coal-fired plants. But the Greens and even parts of the governing Christian and Social Democratic parties are fervently opposed to the construction of new coal plants. So many old power stations will probably be replaced by gas turbines. The green opponents of new coal-fired plants are nowadays the most dependable allies of the big gas companies such as Gazprom, Shell or BP.
Most European countries force consumers to subsidize electricity from wind power. This makes “renewables” a very safe investment compared with other energy businesses, where swings in commodity prices can be large. As Europe’s big integrated oil and gas companies—such as Shell, BP and Total—invest more and more in LNG, they are also lobbying hard for a world-wide carbon-emissions trading system that would further increase the advantage of gas over coal.
I was also very intrigued by the following, especially knowing who now owns the wind energy production assets that Enron sold during its liquidation firesale.
These gas players can afford to lose money on wind power in the short term to reap huge profits in the long term. In fact, this was the strategy first implemented by Ken Lay of Enron in 1990s. Enron was the power and gas company that started the first large-scale manufacturing of wind power in the U.S. It also brought up the ideas for a cap-and-trade system, to increase the competitive edge of gas over coal.
Wind power is clearly not reducing the dependence on imported fuel, contrary to the frequent claims of its proponents. In fact the experience from Germany and Spain shows that it is increasing the dependence of imported natural gas. And that’s not energy security.
The only problem I saw with the post was that the author did not even use the word “nuclear” and totally ignored the potential of a linkage among a whole list of “strange bedfellows” that includes wind promoters, coal promoters, natural gas promoters, and Environmentalists.
Because of that missing piece, this editorial cannot be called a smoking gun (but it will turn up in an Atomic Insights search for “smoking gun” (grin).