The closure of nearly two thirds of Europe’s gas-fired power generation facilities by 2016 will lead to regional price hikes and make outages inevitable, Cap Gemini has warned.
UK households are already feeling the squeeze of soaring energy bills but a particularly cold winter this year could mean that 1970s style blackouts start to become a more regular occurrence again.
The consultancy’s annual European Monitoring Centre for Energy Markets briefing encapsulates much of the crisis in European energy policy – one almost entirely of its own making.
So why is Europe turning off its gas, just when it needs it more than ever?
A gas plant needs to be operating at 57 per cent capacity to be economically viable, but EU regulations introduced to reduce CO2 emissions relegate them to standby duties, in favour of much more inefficient and costly renewable energy plants. This means keeping a gas plant open is uneconomical for the operator. Research outfit IEA, cited by CapGemini, reckons 60 per cent of gas-fired power stations will close by 2016 because they cannot cover their operating costs.
“These plants… that are indispensable to ensure security of supply during peak hours… are being replaced by volatile and non-schedulable renewable energy installations that are heavily subsidized,” the report points out.
And the risk to supplies this winter has increased. CapGem sees “a real threat to the security of energy supply in Europe” noting that the volume of stored gas now is lower than it has been in years. […]
The EU introduced aggressive renewables targets to demonstrate that it is “leading” the world in reducing CO2 emissions. But, given what Europe will soon look like, it’s hard to imagine any sane political leader elsewhere on Earth wanting to “follow”.