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Weaponized Energy by Xi and Putin

By May 3, 2022Energy Rant

This week I’m going to my news stack, starting with an interesting article from Zerohedge – How Far are We from Phasing out Coal. Answer: a long way and getting longer.

CCP’s Exploding Coal Fleet

Coal-fired power generation jumped 9% in 2021, to an all-time high. That increase is the biggest leap since I was in Ha Skewl and the DeLorean was hot. How is coal consumption growing worldwide today? The Chinese Communist Party (CCP). They continue to build and fire huge coal plants with zero reservation (or pollution control).

The difference between governors and the governed in the U.S. is one thing, but in China, the ruling CCP treat their people worse than we treat livestock in the U.S. For instance, on April 12, The Wall Street Journal reported that the CCP forced 25 million people to shelter in their apartments, with zero warning and no time to get food to live as prisoners in their homes for an indeterminant time. The CCP doesn’t care about their people, except they need them for cheap labor once the virus burns through the population.

So, I ask, do you think they care about climate change when they treat their people like this? While the elites were planning, talking big, and partying in Glasgow for COP26, Putin and Xi collectively said, Nah, don’t think so.

As I wrote almost exactly a year ago, the CCP holds the climate cards. The CCP burns 790% more coal than we do in the United States. India burns twice as much coal as the U.S. I’m a big picture thinker, and I’m asking myself, why are we pushing our grid to collapse (next paragraph) when the CCP is spewing 9x the pollution from coal than we are? They are our adversaries, and they are not, obviously, following our lead.

Policy Failures at Home

The Midcontinent Independent System Operator projects 104% load for “projected regularly available generation.” In other words, for the first time, MISO’s capacity auctions are not a foregone conclusion with excess capacity. We already have a generation capacity shortage and continue to shut down power plants due to myopic policy failures.

Many times I have forecast increasing forced outages and decreasing reliability. I’m just a Schmendric, reading the news and looking at the big picture. The blood we are squeezing from our decarb turnip is overwhelmed by China and India. Plenty can be done about this, but the ruling class[1] is all beholden to or compromised by the CCP.

Policy Failures with Putin

How is the West’s policy working to choke Putin’s money supply? Worse than bad. The Guardian reports that Russia’s revenues from coal, oil, and natural gas have DOUBLED since the start of the war, with the worst offender being Germany. Did I write that Germany has the dumbest energy policy in the world? Yes, I did, right here, at the outset of Putin’s invasion.

Less-than-sharp rulers of the West tried to debank Russia with sanctions and asset seizures to destroy the ruble to choke Putin. How’d that work out? Putin now demands rubles for his energy, and the ruble is trading higher against the dollar today than it did before the war. See the chart below in dollars per ruble.

The Majors v Little League

Putin and the Xi are smart, cunning, evil geniuses. They play major league hardball without remorse against the little league tactics of the West. Energy, at minimum, is a strategic national asset and, more brusquely, a weapon of extortion to fund a war machine.

Imagine Putin sitting at the dinner table with his bib sharpening his knife, waiting for Germany to bring his dinner on a silver platter. That was the case before the Ukraine invasion when even The Atlantic howled at Chancellor Merkel for shutting down Germany’s nuclear plants. She shut down the first tranche of plants after Fukushima because, you know, Germany is at high risk for earthquakes and tsunamis.

The New York Times also lamented the closure of nukes, and they say nuclear power “is ultimately not safe.” Compared to what? That’s like saying coal generation kills people. Compared to what? It’s better to have electricity from coal than no electricity. As part of Germany’s suicidal nuclear energy policy, coal generation shot past wind in 2021 and is now its largest source of electricity. So there it is – electricity from coal is safer than no electricity.

Life is a balance of risk and reward. Every time we buckle into an aluminum tube piloted by a stranger, we risk our lives just to see people in person or sit on a beach for a week. The United States alone has over 12,000 reactor years of safe delivery of nuclear power. Do we want more of this in the future, or more natural gas or coal? We cannot fund and build deterrence against Putin and Xi on wind, solar, and batteries. Choices!

We will have a diverse supply of electricity by choice or by force. When by force, Europe shows that emissions increase, and Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is simultaneously funded – by Europe. Xi is watching and learning. Are we? Pffft. Talking tough sells better than being smart.

[1] E.g., Tesla, Blackrock, Apple, Walmart, Google, the NBA, senators, the administration – anyone with business or political interests with the CCP.

Jeff Ihnen

Author Jeff Ihnen

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