Sunday, June 28, 2009

Havel Tells Europe to Dump Russia from its Energy Script

Former playwright turned revolutionary turned Czech President (now retired) Vaclav Havel has a history of calling out the emperor when his news clothes are lacking. Europe is facing a Devil's Bargain, with Russian entreaties to continue as its trusted supplier of natural gas on one side, balanced against the alternative of seeking new energy sources and risking Russia's wrath. As I've said on this blog previously here, here, and most recently here, it's long past time for Europe to build itself some leverage via development of credible options.

Here's Havel in Bloomberg:
Rather than buy gas from Russia, Europe should pursue projects like the Nabucco pipeline to import gas from the Caspian Sea region through Turkey, Havel said. On May 6, the European Union approved an initial investment of 200 million euros ($277 million) for the pipeline which was endorsed by Turkey two days later. It’s expected to begin operation in 2015, according to the EU. “They should have come up with that years ago,” Havel said referring to the Nabucco plan, and said Europe must wean itself from fossil fuels.
As one DOD Energy Blog reader noted, this situation mirrors in some ways the brittle grid challenge facing DOD facilities. The initial get-well path is the creation of "energy islands" so critical functions can be powered in the event of an outage. European communities reliant on Russia for heating should be doing everything they can to produce energy locally via renewables and any other resources they can find (e.g., waste to heat). Much of Western Europe has been building out renewables at a tremendous rate, but Eastern Europe lags, and both need to aggressively explore and execute every possible energy option. Full article is here.

Yet the problem of scale remains, as well as the many pitfalls that plague new pipeline projects (see excellent backgrounder on the problems facing Nabucco by DOD and European energy expert Sohbet Karbuz here.)

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