It has been really, really cold in Russia for the past few days. Even the weather resistant Russians are turning up the thermostat and causing huge demands on their electrical power and natural gas delivery systems. According to the BBC, electrical power consumption peaked at 146,000 MW on Wednesday, a level not seen since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Temperatures for today are predicted to fall to as low as -42 C (-44 F) and the severe cold is having some dramatic effects on the ability of the Russian energy supply system to cope with the demands.
There have been a number of deaths reported due to exposure. Natural gas pipeline pressures are lower than normal because of increased demand; this slows the rate at which gas can be delivered. That effect is amplified for customers that are at the ends of the pipe opposite to the gas wells. Some European customers of Russian gas have reported that their deliveries are as much as 20% below normal and that they are tapping into the gas that they have in storage.
According to the Russian News and Information Agency Novosti, the power supply situation is difficult, but under control. One item of significant interest in the article is that Russian oil and gas production is already operating at its peak, yet strategic reserves are being tapped to help ensure that all residential areas, particularly in Moscow, are supplied with needed power and heat. Some industrial and commercial supplies have been reduced in order to divert the supplies to residences.
I wonder what Amory Lovins and other advocates of “negawatts” would suggest in order to help the people affected by this cold weather? Can conservation supply the power needed to keep people alive?
- Cold spell cuts Russian gas to Europe – Financial Times
- EU energy head urges diversity as cold hits Russian gas supply – RIA Novosti
- Arctic Russia prompts power worry – BBC (Friday, 20 January 2006, 13:33 GMT)