Guest post by Rafe Champion. The Geopolitics of Energy

Mark Mills at the Manhattan Institute has been sending warning signals for years that the push for intermittent energy in the west could have drastic geopolitical consequences. Here he explains how the conflict in the Ukraine has brought the drastic consequences upon us ahead of schedule.

Ukraine and the Great Energy Reset

Naivete about energy realities robbed the U.S. and its allies of important “soft power” options and helped finance Russia’s aggression. In the near term, our choices are limited, but continuing down the same energy path is a formula for yet more problems in the future.

The EU and the US over the past two decades spent more than $5 trillion and made countless mandates to replace oil, natural gas and coal. This brought the hydrocarbon share of all energy use down by two percentage points to 84 percent while burning wood still supplies more energy than all the world’s solar panels and oil still fuels nearly 97 percent of all the world’s transportation.

While the west spent a great deal of money to phase out coal and gas, without going nuclear, Russia and China pressed on to develop their coal and gas resources and nuclear power as well.

Europe gets 25 percent and 40 percent, respectively, of all its oil and gas from Russia. For Germany, the shares are 35 percent and 70 percent, as well as 50 percent of its coal needs.

The pivot from Russia will be painful and retrieving the situation will take a long time – it is like turning around the Titanic. Read the whole story, it is not long, it is very important and it is too densely packed to summarize.

STOP PRESS. Hungary bans grain exports, the first sign of an impending global food crisis.


A reminder about the situation in Australia:

 South Australia is leading the way in the green transition. Whenever the wind is low overnight SA has to import coal power from Victoria. So you know what is going to  happen when more coal capacity closes and there is no spare power in Victoria and NSW when the wind is low across SE Australia. Rafe blogs at NewCatallaxy Blog.

Is connecting intermittent energy to the grid ahead of storage capacity the greatest public policy blunder since federation?

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38 comments to Guest post by Rafe Champion. The Geopolitics of Energy

  • #

    “has brought the drastic consequences upon us ahead of schedule.”

    Pretty sure the left, and those behind the energy dissociation of the west, would think they are be back on schedule.!


  • #

    Wind is currently “mediocre” in SA.
    They are importing from Vic and using gas (67%)

    Good thing they have such huge gas deposits available. 😉


  • #
    Honk R Smith

    Wish I could I see this as blundering.
    With green energy policy and government Covid policy, I perceive too much propagandistic manipulation, ok, outright organized lying, to consider it ‘blundering’.
    I wish I were that kind.
    I’ve been forced to reconsider the existence of Evil.
    It’s not mankind’s use of natural resources or disease that threatens the species.
    It’s the apocalyptic hysteria of the comfortable.


    • #
      Honk R Smith

      Just want to add …
      if we look at the human tendency to commit mass ritualized elimination of it’s own kind, like the Aztec’s or the Khmer Rouge (just naming two), we seem to have made little progress.
      Public policy ‘blundering’ may just be the facade the new priests have invented, because dragging people to the top of a pyramid, or lining them up by a pit, is too obvious.
      After all, those mass ritualized ‘cleansings’ were all intended to ‘save’.
      One cannot argue that there is not an overclass that has openly states (when confabbing at Davos) that saving may require culling.


    • #

      It’s called hubris.
      Politicians thrive on crisis
      If there none around, they create one and then attempt to provide solutions to non existent problems.
      Meantime the real problems are still there in the background and emerge in the fullness of time.
      The west has fallen for the fake Climate scam HooK line and sinker.
      Now we collectively are paying the price.
      If Labor and green retards get into power for next four years, heaven help Australia.
      The talent pool collectively is so low they would make Biden look like an intellectual.


  • #

    There are few benefits to war, but Putin has highlighted the idiocies of Green policies in many aspects. Ask the Ukrainians if they are bothered about their pronouns, whether they are comfortable in their bodies or wish to try another sex for a while, or have deep concerns over the CO2 content, and you will receive an answer of such realism that any self respecting leftie will burst into tears.

    Food, shelter, warmth and comfort are the basic necessities of life, not trying to get the latest piece of plastic that has long ceased to be a ‘telephone’ but is now a life support system for too many.

    At last some grown-ups are entering the room and it is more than about time we stopped listening to sandal wearers with green hair, and listened to engineers and those with experience in a real field and not that of fantasy.


    • #

      Hear hear Chris.
      I am an engineer and have been aghast for years over completely nonsensical and impossible policies and ideas being trotted out.

      Intermittent energy sources with backup that costs trillions is a recipe for utter disaster.

      What gets me is that I, and nearly all my engineering colleagues can see the looming problems and see the need to expand coal fired power and other proper power sources. But brain dead politicians and a large part of the populace are completely incapable of logic. it appears that the bus has to go over the cliff before any realise the disaster occurring.


      • #

        I know several engineers and every one of them is a rabid climate alarmist and they fully support wind and solar policies, and they actively try to reduce their carbon footprint to save the planet.

        What has happened to the engineering profession?


        • #

          With the current pricing policies of grid based electricity in Australia, you are a financial idiot if you own the house and have not added solar panels to your roof.
          Now on the grid I suspect a couple of plan B’s are missing in the transition schedule.


          • #

            Or maybe you’re someone with a conscience who doesn’t want to increase the electricity bill of everyone who doesn’t have solar?
            Crazy I know…


            • #


              in my case it was time to recoup outlay, but more importantly possible danger from solar on roof

              and stories like this

              Solar panel installations are growing, but consumers have little recourse if things go wrong


            • #

              I would suggest that roof top solar installations have seriously decreased the need to build new grid based electricity generation and distribution network “enhancements”. And somewhere in the mix of calculating the grid based cost of electricity is return on total assets (which is less than it would have been).
              Perhaps the panels are restoring one of the cost advantages home owners used to have over “renters”.
              Local microgrids (substation based?) being able to use the local generation should increase reliability even for those without roof top “assistance”


        • #
          Curious George

          It is called “equity in education”. No student left behind. The class is as good as the worst student.


        • #

          I’m a retired engineer and sick of the man made climate fraud.
          In Australia we contribute 1 molecule of co2 in approximately 10 million parts of the atmosphere.
          We have effectively zero impact on temp or climate
          Anyone who does a proper whole of life analysis for next 100 years will realise that the intermittent wind and solar will have to be replaced and existing infrastructure disposed 4-5 times over this time period
          There is NO way this Is sustainable.
          We will need fossil fuels for next hundred need years plus with probably small portable nuclear reactors.
          Engineering analysis will always provide a pragmatic realistic answer over emotional ideology and fantasy solutions.


      • #
        David Maddison

        Older engineers might understand but what are they teaching the younger ones?

        About a year ago I had a conversation with a recently graduated mechanical engineer and he had never heard of a Carnot cycle heat engine.


  • #
  • #

    Working one day, green decimated the next.

    When will they ever learn.

    Perhaps we shut off the electrical interconnectors and let them experience the green dream.

    But you can see what appears to be a deliberate suiciding of the SA economy. They blew up their old power stations and now wallow in the eco wokeism that California has endured to create open slums in LA and cases of plague due to lack of hygiene.


  • #
    David Maddison

    Sadly, Australia doesn’t have a single politician in the LibLabs or Greens who has any clue whatsoever about any of this.

    In fact, the response to the present energy crisis will be more windmills, more solar, more “green hydrogen” and continuation or even extension of oil and gas exploration bans and fracking bans.

    Yes, our mainstream politicians really are THAT STUPID.


    • #

      Yes but we only ever keep getting such politicians into power by the support of voters. Governments don’t get elected by themselves. Don’t just blame the governments; blame the voters too.


    • #

      Even greater problem is the non-stop brainwashing of kids in school education


  • #
    David Maddison

    Notice that even Elon Musk is advocating for more oil and gas exploration.

    Even though he is the world’s richest man (on paper), fortunately for us he is not a member of the Leftist Elites’ Club. (E.g. he wasn’t even invited to a White House conference on electric cars.)


  • #
    Fuel Filter

    This is part and parcel of the United Nations planing. For decades now.

    Ever hear of Agenda 2020? (It’s been so long since I became aware of what these plans were, I’ve possibly have that date wrong.)

    And then it was “upgraded” to Agenda 2021.

    Stalin used food to murder millions of people. So did Mao. And the EU is obviously scheming to try the same.

    But I still have some faith that the Pretender will exit stage left after 2024 elections at the latest. But there’s obviously some pain in store for us in the States.


  • #

    It’s more than just energy. The raw materials that societies, infrastructure, vehicles and militaries are built on are things like steel and aluminum. Currently, China controls 60% of the market in both materials and their share is growing. Even for renewable technologies, China has 80% of the worlds production capacity for polysilicon used in solar cells. Making the raw materials for most of the things used in industrial societies takes a tremendous amount of energy and it can only be done inexpensively if energy is inexpensive. China is becoming the world’s industrial base. However its also getting more aggressive exerting its influence in Asia and around the world. How will the west be able to stand up it if their adversary is supplier key materials and components in everything it consumes? Countries who are trading their industrial base for green ambition will find it difficult to maintain military readiness let alone improve it’s quality over time. In essence, unilateral CO2 reductions is unilateral disarmament.


  • #

    Our civilization is very well thanks Jo. Now please try not to be a fun sponging, bitchute clown, cry baby and block me.


    • #

      “Our civilization is very well thanks”

      And so long as we have access to reliable electricity and energy, it can remain that way, if its not too much further contaminated by the leftist ideologies.


    • #
      Honk R Smith

      When stuck, attack the messenger or the horse he/she/they rode in on.
      During the last Reformation it was those that dared to translate the Bible.
      So Prophet, I suggest your beef is with books.
      That’s really where the trouble started.
      Now it’s blogs.
      We don’t want people getting information and just deciding for themselves, without competent approval such as you are able to provide.


    • #
      paul courtney

      How about that! Our host did not block the projecting crybaby! I found his comment reassuring, ’cause I thought our civilization was not at all well.


  • #
    Serge Wright

    This saga dates back to the UNFCC in 1992. That agreement imposed emissions reductions targets on developed countries, but allowed the developing world to prioritise economic growth over emissions reductions. This resulted in an industry exodus from the west, transferring emissions, but it also drove up the rate of economic growth in the developing countries, resulting in more global emissions than would have been the case without the UNFCC agreement. Since 1992, emissions from the west have remained unchanged, but global emissions have doubled. Of course blind Freddy could have seen that coming and the UN must have known this would happen. After all, what else would you expect ?.

    So, after 30 years of shifting manufacturing, smelting, R&D, services, etc, all in the name of ‘apparently’ saving the planet, we wake up one day to find our own cupboards are bare and CO2 emissions are twice as high.

    Basically, the west was tricked into believing the world was ending and then gave away all it’s wealth and power to the bad guys on the other side, who obviously came up with the idea three decades ago. Of course we weren’t all fooled and half the west’s population protested for these 30 years, but all to no avail, with left-wing government, educational institutions, big media and big tech all joining in to cancel out the voices of reason and cement the outcome of total annihilation. In the final phase, school children were used as propaganda weapons and when the “Trump” card was played in a final act of defiance, the retaliation came in the form of a deadly virus to kill off the resistance and a dementia suffering president was installed to make sure the road to hell had no detour.

    What happens next won’t be nice. We know China is about the strike, but before that happens we have to contend with the fall of the US currency, hyper-inflation, and a collapsed economy with no industry remaining to create a restart. All western countries will fall like dominoes after the US goes under and then the new world order begins…


  • #

    It’s a mixture of being engineered and pure stupidity by the West; probably mostly the former. Expect sky-rocketing prices on various items, food and fuel being the main ones. Not just food shortages but also fuel shortages. Come to think of it, it has to be mostly engineered at some level as we are repeatedly being told the world’s population is too high and needs to be culled.

    World Bank Warns Against Hoarding and Russia Turns to the Yuan, which means the food and fuel crisis is real and the Western economies will crash and burn eventually. The really sad part is Australia could have been the food basket of the world given our rich resource of coal to supply cheap and reliable energy if we only had politicians with vision. Instead both major parties are hell bent on shutting down our economy by focusing on net zero emissions. How about we stop voting for them? No, we can’t do that – that would be too logical. We must continue our delusion that it will be all OK somehow. Meanwhile we are being told we should have at least one shot of the COVID-19 vaccine each and every year, just like the flu shot. Covid and net zero mandates makes it possible for people to give up the need to think and only take stupid actions, which makes it ideal for politicians and other fools. Ideal Catch-22! There is only one way to stop the death spiral; stop voting for such political parties. Simples!


  • #
    Kevin T Kilty

    It must have been obvious to their subjects that before the Aztec began their gruesome human sacrific rituals the sun rose each morning and the universe worked just as it did afterward. Yet, probably very quickly, everyone developed the idea that the new rituals had to be pursued to keep the universe running.

    In the modern West we still have data showing increasing reliability and declining cost of an electrical grid over the past century, but now proof of rising cost and declining reliability occuring currently becuase of adding renewables is proof that more renewables are needed to decrease cost and increase reliability. People view the new rituals as central to the running of the universe.

    Engineers, who are the folks expected to keep our universe running, cannot save us from these destructive human tendencies, and actually can contribute to the problem, for several reasons:

    1) Lots of engineers are surprisingly incompetent — they form a bell-curve of ability just like everyone else.

    2) Not all engineers deal with reality. Academics, for example, often have a poor self-assessment of their understanding of topics they have encountered only in textbooks, if that. They can be persuaded to support idiotic schemes and narratives.

    I can supply data and anecdotes if needed.


    • #

      I concur about the bell curve for engineering competence. I’ve managed a couple of hundred over the years and can tell you that some must have consumed a lot of breakfast cereal before finding their golden ticket. Especially when it comes to taking their learned information and applying into a non-text book solution, (ie, being creative).

      When you think of a normal distribution and assuming it’s fair to apply, if you grade an engineer from dangerously incompetent through to highly competent, you could start your employment selection criteria by claiming to only employ those that would score more than 1SD above the mean.

      That simple selection process would leave you with a pool of just 16% of the total. And that’s for 1SD, you’re not exactly taking the cream.

      Where do the others go? Are they all employed by government agencies or green thick tanks?

      I’m betting they walk amongst us and as noted above, they also teach those who follow. The tricky part is to sort the good ones from the bad in a 20 minute interview, having spent the first 10 minutes getting them to focus and pay attention without referring to their phone. Maybe that’s the clue, either that or reject anything that the sweet people in HR promote.


      • #
        Dave in the States

        “Where do the others go? Are they all employed by government agencies or green thick tanks?”

        Those are probably the least competent.


  • #

    Russian Defence Ministry briefing ( ex the Vineyard of The Saker ). . . . . let’s see how this plays out. The whole briefing is very informative :-
    ❗️We know for sure that with the support of Western countries, the Ukrainian Security Service is preparing a provocation with the use of toxic substances against civilians.

    ▪️The purpose of the provocation is to accuse Russia of using chemical weapons against the population of Ukraine.

    ▪️I want to officially state that the units of the Russian Armed Forces involved in the special military operation do not have chemical munitions.

    ▪️The Russian Federation, unlike the United States, has long fulfilled its international obligations by completely destroying all chemical weapons stockpiles.

    ▪️To prevent any provocations of Ukrainian nationalists with toxic substances, Russian servicemen in the liberated territory take dangerous objects under control and ensure their safety.

    ▪️I will add that among the combat documentation captured by us in the 4th brigade of the Ukrainian National Guard, there is a detailed map of the territory of Ukraine with objects and types of toxic substances stored on it. Therefore, any attempt of Ukrainian Security Service provocation with the use of toxic substances will be revealed.

    ❗️We have repeatedly mentioned facts about the atrocities of nationalists terrorizing civilians for any disobedience or attempts to leave settlements.

    ▪️Today, footage of civilians killed in Chernihov, who were supposedly “shot by Russian servicemen,” was circulated on all propaganda resources of the Kiev regime. It was stated that all victims were allegedly queuing for bread.

    ▪️I would like to stress the absence Russian servicemen in Chernihov.

    ▪️All units of the Russian Armed Forces are outside Chernihov, blocking roads, and are not conducting any offensive actions on the city.

    ▪️There are no traces of ammunition explosions on the video footage replicated by Ukrainian propagandists. All windows in nearby buildings are intact. There is no damage to the walls, there are no other traces of an explosion on the ground.

    ▪️Thus, all the dead people – victims of the terror of Ukrainian nationalists or these video footage – are another stage of the Security Service of Ukraine. We would like to draw your attention to the fact that simultaneously with Ukrainian Internet resources, this fake was published on the official pages of the US Embassy in Ukraine on social networks without any verification and obtaining evidence.

    ▪️At the same time, the embassy itself, as you know, has already been relocated from Kiev, to Lvov. And it does not notice how Russian servicemen deliver and distribute hundreds of tons of humanitarian aid to residents of Chernihov region in settlements liberated from nationalists.


  • #

    “Is connecting intermittent energy to the grid ahead of storage capacity the greatest public policy blunder since federation?”

    Battery storage faces exactly the same problem as solar or wind farms. To deliver their electricity to the grid, they require inverters. These inverters provide no system inertia, and therefore have no ability to maintain a stable grid frequency as the balance between demand and generation capacity changes.

    As far as I know, no one has solved this problem anywhere in the world. More specifically, I have found no published papers explaining how a grid running on only solar, wind and battery storage can successfully operate. I’ve seen no concept design, no experimental set up, no computer model and definitely no demonstration site showing a 100% “Net Zero” grid that can meet the requirements of today’s civilisation.

    My reading suggests that grid instability becomes a serious problem when solar output reaches 20% of total grid demand. The AEMO has already forecast that WA’s grid will reach this critical mark by 2024, as the State government continues to fund rooftop solar subsidy schemes. For grid’s with significant amounts of wind power, like SA, the instability problem also presents when wind output reaches 40% of total demand.

    To date, the only thing keeping SA’s grid going is its connection to the rest of the NEM. That failed in January 2020, and the instability of the SA grid was suddenly visible to all:

    The AEMO is now closely monitoring this problem, regularly publishing System Strength and Inertia Reports:

    The AEMO only started looking at this in 2017, perhaps after the problem was manifested in the SA state-wide blackout in September 2016. It has published a couple of reports, which are the first time that it has raised the issue of “minimum system strength and inertia requirements”. And that analysis forced the AEMO to prepare an Engineering Framework to actually attempt to plan what the future grid would look like:

    If you download the presentation, you’ll see on Slide 6 that the AEMO acknowledges that a “step change” is required in the design of our electricity grid within 5 years. The AEMO also clearly states that our current grid design cannot achieve the transition to a “Net Zero” grid.

    In project management, the gap between the blue line (where we are today) and the red line (where we need to be in the future) is usually named “a miracle occurs here”. That phrase applies perfectly to the AEMO’s engineering framework because there is no engineering solution in the world that allows a grid to function with 100% renewables.

    Wishing it were possible doesn’t change the laws of physics, or in this case, the laws that govern the behaviour of electricity.


  • #

    All intermittent suppliers to the grid should be required to guarantee supply 24×7.
    Yes, that means that all rooftop solar must be backed up with enough batteries to cover at least the evening peak demand.
    And all windmills must have backup to cover at least 24 hours of no wind, either through storage or gas or pumped hydro.
    The problem at the moment is that intermittent suppliers deliver a surplus at some times, forcing reliable generators to curtail output, lowering their utilisation and thus damaging their economics.
    Just look at the way coal generators are now forced to cycle up and down each day from 11-17GW instead of providing a reliable 17 GW baseload 24×7, with the fluctuating demand up to a daily peak of 28GW supplied from reliable hydro and open cycle gas turbines.