Bloomberg: Green Energy “Prisoner’s Dilemma”

de-icing-wind-turbine

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

h/t englandrichard – According to Bloomberg, Green energy shortages caused by extreme winter cold have turned the EU energy market into a gigantic Prisoner’s Dilemma, with national governments tempted to take care of their own people, before allowing electricity exports to their European partners.

Winter Cold Exposes Soft Underbelly of EU Energy Union Goal

by Ladka Mortkowitz Bauerova

9 February 2017, 15:00 GMT+10 9 February 2017, 20:18 GMT+10

As freezing weather triggered energy shortages across southeast Europe at the start of the year, Bulgaria’s refusal to export power was typical in a region where everyone had to fend for themselves.

Nations from Greece to Hungary hoarded power last month in response to the coldest winter in a decade, exposing the weakness of the region’s power markets, which should enjoy unrestricted flows. Temperatures in the Balkans and surrounding countries are expected to drop below freezing again next week.

The reaction highlights the European Union’s struggle to break down national barriers for power and gas, integrate markets and bolster energy security as it tries to ease dependence on Russian fuel. While many southeast European countries are in the EU, they have been slow to modernize plants and cables in a region where assets per person for production and infrastructure are about a third of that in advanced Europe, according to the International Monetary Fund.

“What I see in the Balkans is clear evidence that everybody first secures its own consumption and only then, if they’re in a position to do so, they’ll help the others,’’ said Andras Totth, the deputy chief executive officer of strategy at Hungarian state-controlled utility MVM.

While aging infrastructure is a concern, the main obstacle to integrating markets in the region is lingering political distrust between the countries, according to Julian Popov, a Fellow at the European Climate Foundation and a former environment minister of Bulgaria. Every time power or gas supplies get tight, the nations’ top politicians panic and order exports to stop, which hurts traders, he said.

“It creates a typical prisoner dilemma — countries start thinking only of themselves,” Popov said.

Read more: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-02-09/winter-freeze-exposes-soft-underbelly-of-eu-s-energy-union-goal

The root cause of this desperation is Europe’s lunatic drive for green energy at any cost.

Why is the EU so stubborn about embracing renewables, despite the obvious problems? Unlike the USA, the true leaders of the EU are not chosen by the people. They never have to answer for their mistakes, to the people whose lives they blight.

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146 thoughts on “Bloomberg: Green Energy “Prisoner’s Dilemma”

  1. You can’t hoard electricity. You use it when it is generated, or you dump it.
    What Bloomberg means is that countries decided to ensure that their own citizens had power, rather than throwing their own citizens into the dark so that some other countries citizens didn’t have to freeze in the dark.

      • I agree that the prisoner’s dilemma has been misinterpreted. The EU “policeman” opposes the mechanism of cooperation used by the “prisoner” countries of southeast Europe, and particularly the Balkans. It’s a multilateral prisoner’s dilemma where even society’s interest is stratified.

      • While many southeast European countries are in the EU, they have been slow to modernize plants and cables in a region where assets per person for production and infrastructure are about a third of that in advanced Europe, according to the International Monetary Fund.

        South-eastern countries like … Greece , perhaps. Who are being raped and bled dry by predatory bankers at the ECB in Germany who have screwed to the country for generations to come and are totally gutting their economy.

        How selfish of the Greeks not to share all they have left that has not been taken with their european “partners”.

      • Ah, so it’s the ‘predatory bankers’ in Germany who are responsible for the economic plight of Greece? How selfish of the bankers to actually lend money to Greece (to support its unsustainable social spending) when the Greeks asked for it and to expect that the money would actually be repaid. How selfish of the bankers to restructure & forgive some of those same loans. I think the Greeks have no one to blame but themselves.

      • Bill, Mark,

        Thanks for your response to Greg, whom I believe is misguided.

        Yes,
        …after Greece decided to over-pay and over-promise pensions beyond market value for decades…
        …after Greece decided to overpay for overly generous and unsustainable social programs…
        …after Greece decided to over-pay politicians…
        …after Greece decided to indoctrinate all their citizens into believing in the nanny-state…
        …after Greece lied when it claimed to meet the Eurozone’s official economic criteria…
        …after Greece decided to sign on the dotted line for loans at repayment rates commensurate with their risk…
        and so on
        …those darn predatory bankers who want to be re-paid are the problem.

        Get real Greg.

        Here’s a good read…
        http://www.forbes.com/sites/dougbandow/2017/01/05/greece-heads-into-another-economic-crisis-time-to-finally-exit-the-european-union/#76eb373c3086

        “Greece is a bit like your dissolute brother-in-law. A spendthrift, he gets himself into financial trouble and asks for a loan. You give it to him based on his promise to stop drinking, smoking, and romancing the ladies. He doesn’t, of course, but you really didn’t expect he would do so. However, you still want your money back. Although he promised to repay you, he doesn’t understand why you are asking. Your wife gives him some more money, based on his redoubled promise to reform his bad spending habits. And so it goes.”

        Greece, where, “Time is flexible, leisure is mandatory, and work is unfortunate.”

        And where, “Government is a tool by which everyone attempts to live off of everyone else, though politics is the only sure means to succeed in doing so.”

    • The article mentions both power and gas. I suspect it’s the gas hording that’s the bigger problem for hording.

      The reaction highlights the European Union’s struggle to break down national barriers for power and gas, integrate markets and bolster energy security as it tries to ease dependence on Russian fuel.

      • Since the Bilderberg rulers of Europe hate Putin, their people get to freeze and then also pay much more for energy.

      • From the article:
        “Nations from Greece to Hungary hoarded power last month in response”
        “struggle to break down national barriers for power and gas”

        The article is pretty clear that what is being hoarded is electricity (power), the “and gas” was in reference to a larger issue of integrating energy supplies.

      • As someone else pointed out you cannot “hoard” either electricity or power. You may chose to consume it yourself, but you cannot hoard it.

      • You can’t “hoard” electricity – but you can hold back generation. I don’t know the situation in the countries you mentioned, but countries with significant hydro-electric power can – and do – hold back flows to anticipate demand (and get better prices). I guess you could also hoard your gas stocks (by not generating electricity with it) in the same manner – probably a more likely scenario in this case.

        This may be where Bloomberg refers to the prisoner’s dilemma: countries would do better as a whole by cooperating (we use our hydro power when the wind isn’t blowing and you give us your wind power when it is), but if you don’t believe they will give you the wind power, then you don’t release your hydro beyond what is needed nationally.

        Without reading the article (or knowing the situation in the region) this is just speculation, but would at least be a correct usage of the prisoner’s dilemma term.

    • ‘hoarding’ is a code word that makes an appearance when there is any kind of shortage and those who thought ahead and were prepared have something that another group wishes to take from them.

      when you hear, for example, about ‘hoarding groceries’ (most recently in venezuela) that signals the intent of the state to begin robbing the grocery stores.

      to demonize their intended victims and render them indefensible is just the first step in building consensus among a mob.

      • The difference between hoading and stockpiling depends on who owns the stockpile.
        IE, I stockpile, other people hoard.

      • Hydro power can be hoarded and not undertaking load shed is in effect an option that is akin to hoarding.

        And yes if the bankers made one mistake that they can be blamed for its not charging higher interest rates and not recognizing the actual risk, thus lent to much.
        The real fools are the idiots in Brussels who failed to recognize the lies from Greece, they simple lied about their financial status

      • Translation, they used it to buy stuff that they couldn’t afford.
        So if I take out a loan to buy a car, so long as that car increases the profits of some company I should expect to have the loan forgiven?

    • Agreed.
      Ontario electricity is generated ~61% from Nuclear and we (almost) always export more than we consume:
      http://www.gridwatch.ca

      We could avoid exporting anything if the people who designed our aging Nuclear plants 40-50 years ago had created a ‘turn-down’ control instead of having them as ‘always-on’ base load.

      The problem might be similar in Europe; countries only export Surplus. This has Nothing to do with renewable energy. It has to do with shortfall of generating capacity at time of peak demand.

      • :@Lorne White

        My understanding is that *all* civil nuclear power plants are used for baseload and that *none* of them have a ” ‘turn-down’ control”, and that this is inherent in the design in order to maximise efficiency.

        Rather than speculating about what the European market might or might not be like, it is not hard to find out that some countries (especially Denmark & Germany) have ‘invested’ heavily in renewables, leading to higher prices and lower availability.

      • Thanks for confirming that baseload is common to All Nuclear generators.

        In Ontario, IMHO, the problem is not renewable Wind & Solar (from a poorly created Government Green Energy Act), which you will see on Gridwatch (above) produces <5% of Ontario's electricity at any hour.

        It's that we refurbish our failed CANDU Nuclear plants which reach their Bad After dates earlier than expected and cost mega-money to fix. Instead, we should retire them & buy surplus electricity from Hydro Québec as New York is doing at huge savings. Only our tiny Green Party dares to promote this idea. Our Nuclear industry -managers & unions- earn high wages and are a hidden pillar of our provincial economy.

        New methods of Storage will solve this issue. The USA Dept of Energy reported 50+ methods at different stages of development, in 2013, Up from 5-10 a decade earlier.

      • The reason here is no turn down control on nuclear is that it makes almost no difference on cost – the plant costs the same cranked to the max or turned down, since the fuel is a rounding error. Might as well export the surplus and get whatever you can for it.

      • @Lorne White

        No, baseload is the norm for all *civil* nuclear power plants as a consequence of the design. Military nuclear power plants (as used in aircraft carriers & subs) are substantially different and can be turned up and down very rapidly. But there are consequences for this, most likely that military plants are less efficient.

        Renewables only producing a small %age of demand does not mean that they are not a problem. In the UK, wind supplies normally well less than 10% of demand (22% as I type – see http://www.gridwatch.templar.co.uk/) but has made continuity of supply a lot less likely.

        Available dispatchable generation used to be c. 115% of peak (winter) demand but has gradually fallen to c. 102% of peak demand. Because power supply companies are legally compelled to buy wind (and solar) there has been a lack of investment in coal & nuclear as the return on the investment is compromised and may become more so.

        So any sort of problem with one of the major coal or nuclear plants would leave the UK network reliant upon wind & solar, and on still days in midwinter that is not a good position.

        “New methods of Storage will solve this issue”
        If you mean methods of storing electricity then you are backing a loser. There is no prospect of an efficient, affordable system being deployed in the next couple of decades. Trying out 50 unworkable systems is not significantly more helpful than trying out none. It is a bit more helpful as it proves that those 50 systems don’t work.

      • Early plans for the Bruce Power site were for 4 sites to be constructed, each with 4 750 Mw reactors. Underwater cables would have allowed export to the US and profits from the sale would have lowered the cost of Ontario electricity. As I recall NY state rates were twice the going rate in Ontario. The NDP under Bob Rae squashed that idea (I think it was them) stating that Ontario Hydro’s mandate wasn’t to sell power at a profit, simply to produce it at cost. Of course, under the provincial liberal party we have arranged to sign 20 year contracts to buy it at 14 tines the wholesale rate. From subsidizing the cost of electricity through export, to charging the citizens extra to pay for a witless energy future that has no future. Quite the progression we have managed to make.

      • Apparently no one commenting is aware of, or, understands power generation. I am not the expert, but the process of electrical generation includes base loading with coal, or nuclear, with any excess sold by specialists. In our tri-county area in SE PA US, we have a joint power authority that manages the Maryland , Pennsylvania, New Jersey Interconnect. All grid electricity is routed through this system. The other part of this power control no one talks about, is what is known as “load management “. On high or low degree days (periods of high demand) there are leveling power plants on natural gas or coal which are brought on-line. This action balances the load and prevents brown-outs or rolling interruptions of electric service. When the demand drops these plants have a high “turn-down ration” of 10:1 and further balances the demand.
        Our Interconnect works with others to supply and balance grid power across the Northeast part of the US. Closures of some nuclear generators North of us, with the intellectual masturbation of substitution with green energy, may make things interesting if we have a el Niño type summer with high air conditioning loads.
        Hope that clarifies some of the misunderstanding.

    • Yeah, hording doesn’t accurately describe the situation. When the demand increases, the supply should increase to match. The issue seems that there isn’t enough supply available from unreliable renewables.

    • Hoarding may involve the hiding or guarding of supply or accumulation. In the former sense, you can hoard electricity.

    • Told you so, three years ago

      https://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/10/31/blind-faith-in-climate-models/#comment-1462890

      An Open Letter to Baroness Verma

      “All of the climate models and policy-relevant pathways of future greenhouse gas and aerosol emissions considered in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) recent Fifth Assessment Report show a long-term global increase in temperature during the 21st century is expected. In all cases, the warming from increasing greenhouse gases significantly exceeds any cooling from atmospheric aerosols. Other effects such as solar changes and volcanic activity are likely to have only a minor impact over this timescale”.
      – Baroness Verma

      I have no Sunspot Number data before 1700, but the latter part of the Maunder Minimum had 2 back-to-back low Solar Cycles with SSNmax of 58 in 1705 and 63 in 1717 .
      http://www.ngdc.noaa.gov/stp/space-weather/solar-data/solar-indices/sunspot-numbers/international/tables/

      The coldest period of the Maunder was ~1670 to ~1700 (8.48dC year average Central England Temperatures) but the coldest year was 1740 (6.84C year avg CET).
      http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/hadobs/hadcet/data/download.html

      The Dalton Minimum had 2 back-to-back low SC’s with SSNmax of 48 in 1804 and 46 in 1816. Tambora erupted in 1815.

      Two of the coldest years in the Dalton were 1814 (7.75C year avg CET) and 1816 (7.87C year avg CET).

      Now Solar Cycle 24 is a dud with SSNmax estimated at ~65, and very early estimates suggest SC25 will be very low as well.

      The warmest recent years for CET were 2002 to 2007 inclusive that averaged 10.55C.

      I suggest with confidence that 10.5C is substantially warmer as a yearly average than 8.5C, and the latter may not provide a “lovely year for Chrysanths”.

      I further suggest with confidence that individual years averaging 7.8C or even 6.8C are even colder, and the Chrysanths will suffer.

      So here is my real concern:

      IF the Sun does indeed drive temperature, as I suspect, Baroness Verma, then you and your colleagues on both sides of the House may have brewed the perfect storm.

      You are claiming that global cooling will NOT happen, AND you have crippled your energy systems with excessive reliance on ineffective grid-connected “green energy” schemes.

      I suggest that global cooling probably WILL happen within the next decade or sooner, and Britain will get colder.

      I also suggest that the IPCC and the Met Office have NO track record of successful prediction (or “projection”) of global temperature and thus have no scientific credibility.

      I suggest that Winter deaths will increase in the UK as cooling progresses.

      I suggest that Excess Winter Mortality, the British rate of which is about double the rate in the Scandinavian countries, should provide an estimate of this unfolding tragedy.

      As always in these matters, I hope to be wrong. These are not numbers, they are real people, who “loved and were loved”.

      Best regards to all, Allan MacRae

      Turning and tuning in the widening gyre,
      the falcon cannot hear the falconer…
      – Yeats

    • You don’t dump electricity.. If you do not use it, power will not be drawn from the generating source. The voltage is still there but without the current flowing from it.

    • Yep I don’t get it either. It’s instantaneous.

      They seem to mean “Not wastefully turning on your highest marginal cost peakiest peakers so that you irrationally have too much and can export it for a few c to the neighbouring idiots who blew up their Eeebil Coal and now don’t have enough.”

      Much as the People’s Republic of Victoria is at fault for the People’s Republic of SA having no power, because they should be burning more coal so that they have surplus to send down the big interconnect to Adelaide when the wind stops. But that’s not “hoarding.” It could be that the failure to supply an interconnect is seen in this light by the pro-wind Bloomberg who are looking for any excuse other than “Wind doesn’t work.”

  2. Oh we elect our governments.
    Unfortunately after they’ve been elected, the first thing they do is compromise on (or even completely ignore) their election promises to form a coalition with another party in order to actually govern …. only to turn into yes-men when another “brilliant” scheme is laid upon them from Brussels.

      • Another aspect to what you wrote that I quoted, JB, which I feel it is important to consider, is the notion that “to govern” means something that a political “coalition” of some sort needs to do. Surely you have laws now, and “to govern” requires merely that those laws be upheld/enforced . . and that does not require any sort of coalition of any political “parties” . .

        The idea that “to govern” means to make more laws and regulations (and/or to mess with the laws already in effect), as though we were discussing the production of food or other vital supplies the society needs to function at all, rendering it critically important to form political “coalitions” in order “to govern”, works a whole lot better for the professional political folks.

    • “Oh we elect our governments.
      Unfortunately after they’ve been elected, the first thing they do is compromise on (or even completely ignore) their election promises to form a coalition with another party in order to actually govern …. ”

      It’s the same basic problem regardless of any “coalition” aspects, it seems to me. In the States there is often the BS excuse that “bipartisan” considerations are forcing the betrayers of their electorate to betray them. Hence, ‘drain the swamp’ is a popular catch phrase ; )

      • The real problem:
        “If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in 5 years there’d be a shortage of sand.”
        Milton Friedman

      • True, and look at the reaction of the media when a President, upon taking office, actually tries to keep those ‘election promises’.

  3. On an airline flight, the preflight instructions include something like this: “Make sure you are breathing well; only when you are secure, can you help someone else.” I wouldn’t have thought that needed saying–sort of like MacDonald’s having to shout [in print] “COFFEE IS HOT!!” because some idiot years ago ignored that obvious face and managed to spill hot coffee, suffering burns as a result. OF COURSE a country must provide for its own citizens before sacrificing to help another country. If doing so interferes with exports, so be it. Surely any fool can see that. (“Das sieht jeder Narr,” say the Germans–or used to, before the present age.)

    • I gather MacDonald’s didn’t yet use the “sippy lids” at that time? I ask because with the lid secured properly, you have to work fairly hard to remove it and spill more that a few drops of coffee. But, alas, the servers today sometimes fail to secure the lid! Ask me how I know. But MacDonald’s also lowered the temperature of the coffee they dispense, so a spill should never cause burns requiring medical attention.

      • “because with the lid secured properly, you have to work fairly hard to remove it”

        Pinching a coffee cup between your thighs probably qualifies as working fairly hard to remove it.

      • The lady had removed the lid and put the cup between her legs so that she could add sugar and creamer.
        It was at this time that she hit the bump in the road, with predictable outcome.

      • The problem in the scenario you describe would seem to be trying to do all this while driving. Was she charged with dangerous driving?

      • Some people like percolators because they produce hotter coffee than drip machines. Personally, I think that is a weird preference, but de gustibus.

      • Everyone is an idiot from time to time. The scalding was severe. Even idiots don’t deserve that.

        I’ll probably get hounded for saying it, but I think the outcome was just. If a restaurant wants to serve up hazardous things, it must make clear how hazardous it is. “Caution: Extremely Hot” is not enough, IMO. It needed something more like, “EXTREME CAUTION: THIS PRODUCT WILL MELT THE FLESH OFF YOUR BONES!!!” And, then I would list things not to do, like taking the lid off while driving. Or, doing anything but throwing gently placing the item into the nearest trash receptacle for that matter.

        Why they served it that hot to begin with, I do not know. Personally, I prefer ice coffee.

      • While your compassion is commendable, please in the future, be compassionate with your own money. Not other people’s.
        It is impossible to idiot proof the world. No matter how many warnings you put on things, there will always be the idiots who don’t read the warnings.
        What is McD’s to do, make every customer sign a waiver before they are allowed to drive off with a cup of coffee?

        They served the coffee hot, because that’s what their customers had asked for.

      • Bartemis

        So let’s see if I understand what you’re saying:

        Because one woman was foolish enough to burn herself with hot coffee she had just ordered & been served:

        o Shareholders of McDonalds were financially penalized (fined)
        o Millions of future customers receive a less-than-optimal cup of coffee.

        Got it. Punish the innocent for one woman’s stupidity.

      • That’s the price of providing wares to the mass market, guys. You’ve got to anticipate how the lowest common denominator is going to consume it, and make every reasonable effort to shield them from their own stupidity. I do not think it an unreasonable burden for McDonald’s to have made absolutely sure that people were aware of the potential danger of their product.

        Frankly, I was unaware of it. I mean, sure, it’s hot. Says so on the cup. But, it doesn’t say molten lava hot. I would not have thought that a simple spill could have sent me to the hospital with third degree scalding. I mean, the poor lady’s skin was peeling off in sheets.

        I suspect you would have a very different point of view if it had been your dear grandma who suffered from it. I know I would have, and in cases like this, it is important to try to empathise, and imagine yourself in the position of the lady or her family.

        McDonald’s had ample opportunity to settle out of court at a much reduced price. But, they chose to play hardball with a weak, little old lady. If the shareholders took a bath, that’s the price you pay for having an arrogant and insouciant management team. And, if you want to make really, really hot coffee, then either make sure people know the danger, or suffer the consequences. I’ve no sympathy for the defendant at all. McDonald’s is a world class corporation. They should have covered their bases.

      • Bartemis, that’s your opinion.
        I say let the idiots suffer, perhaps they’ll learn.
        You seem to feel that the world needs to be child proofed and that no matter what happens, it’s always someone else’s fault.
        I prefer to live in the real world, not Romper Room.

      • The goal of civilization is not to give everyone their just desserts. The goal is to optimize society for the greatest number. It does not help you, or me, or anyone else, Mark, to “let the idiots suffer”. That just makes them even more of a burden than before. Idiots, by the very nature that earns them that descriptive, do not learn – it is more or less definitional.

        Nobody said anything about “no matter what happens” – this is a straw man argument. Is it so much to ask that a mass purveyor of goods inform its customers of the not-so-obvious risks involved with its products? I do not think so.

      • BS on steriods, there is no goal for civilization. It’s just something that is.
        I have no obligation to sacrifice my personal well being to account for people who are too stupid to take care of themselves.
        I may choose to do so, but it’s 100% voluntary.
        Forcing some to take care of others is slavery.

      • There is no such thing as forced charity.
        Way too many people back laws by which government takes other people’s money and gives it to the poor.
        They then go around proclaiming what wonderful people they are, since they have taken care of the poor.

      • I understand entirely where you are coming from, Mark. A person who is generous with other people’s money is not a generous person. But, that is entirely beside the point here.

        McDonald’s sold a risky product without providing adequate information to its customers as to the potential hazards. In doing so, it incurred a liability. The award wasn’t charity for the woman. It was punishment for McDonald’s. And, IMHO, it was deserved.

        It is not sacrificing “your well-being” at all. If anything, the steps McDonald’s has now taken to prevent future such injuries is promoting your well-being by preventing other idiots from drawing on insurance, tying up medical resources, gaining government benefits, or otherwise becoming a burden on the society you help maintain through your efforts and taxes.

      • It wasn’t a risky product.
        Your desire to baby proof the world is doomed to failure and will only succeed in hindering those people who aren’t complete idiots.

    • … “Make sure you are breathing well; only when you are secure, can you help someone else.” I wouldn’t have thought that needed saying

      Quite the contrary. A parent’s immediate innate reaction is to help their child rather than themselves. Because evolution never had the opportunity to program our brains to react in a way that would ensure the survival of the child (ie with a still conscious parent alongside) in a cabin pressure loss situation.

  4. What I see in the Balkans is clear evidence that everybody first secures its own consumption and only then, if they’re in a position to do so, they’ll help the others.

    This can’t be correct; the peer-reviewed studies using an ensemble of advanced models clearly show otherwise.
    /sarc

      • I have found that with a varied and always shifting audience like WUWT has, it is quite common for some people to take literally what I thought was obvious sarcasm.

      • The problem is that some of the warmists have gotten so far out there, that is impossible to tell what is sarcasm and what isn’t anymore.

      • unfortunately, the level of discourse published in the climate journals has led otherwise intelligent people to think that an obviously absurd post was actually a quote of someone’s esteemed research journal article. To alleviate this confusion it is just safer to place the /sarc on the post to prevent confusion and outrage.

  5. The only history that reassures me about the current green policies is the collapse of the Soviet Union, which most “experts” totally missed coming. Unless the greens are willing and able to take extreme measures to stay in power when the grid collapses, and the populace is freezing in the dark. . .

  6. It is notable that one beneficial feature of coal generated electricity is that it is possible to stockpile large amounts of coal cheaply – i.e. make a pile.
    Natural gas, on the other hand, is a flow distribution mechanism. When demand goes up significantly, it is literally impossible to increase flow dramatically – which in turn leads to ridiculous price swings.
    Now consider wind and solar PV: are the swings greater or lesser than natural gas demand?
    Yet another example of why economists make astrologer’s look good.

    • Managing power generation under varying demand isn’t quite as simple as you describe, because even some coal plants in urban or suburban areas can’t store huge stockpiles onsite for handling extended emergency power demands. Gas plants, actually, are pretty easy to vary in output, because all one needs to do is vary the compressor output on the pipelines that supply them. Hydro plants also are fairly easy to power up and down, though there may be limits imposed on radical changes in river flows. Nuke plants can also be varied quickly, but most are used for base load while gas, hydro, etc. are used for fluctuations in power demand.

      Not sure what the issues are here in SE Europe, but it sounds more like politics than technology.

      • There’s a maximum amount that any pipeline can carry. The problem may not be in the feeder to the power plant, but in the trunk lines.
        When it gets really cold, the heaters in all the homes ramp up as well. The trunk lines may not have enough capacity to handle everybody.

      • Also, Uranium is renewable (as Pu239 from U238 or U233 from Th232), but the Greens don’t see it that way. So far, it hasn’t been reused much, as it costs more. The Russians recently put an 800 MWe breeder reactor on the grid.

      • It isn’t cost that prevents uranium reprocessing, but the utter fear of anything nuclear by the greens. As a result, we only use 1% of the energy available.

    • The Prisoner:Who are you?
      Number 2: I am the new Number 2.
      The Prisoner: Who is number 1?
      Number 2: You are Number 6.
      OR
      The Prisoner: Who is number 1?
      Number 2: You are, Number 6.

      Punctuation matters.

    • I was and am impressed by “The Prisoner”, the one true original that is. The remake managed to be nearly as incomprehensible but without the class and discipline of Patrick McGoohan.

      “A major theme of the series is individualism, as represented by Number Six, versus collectivism, as represented by Number Two and the others in the Village.” [https]://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Prisoner

      This is a particularly appropriate metaphor for your personal energy decisions versus the community; the needs of the one versus the needs of the many.

      • I remember it too well!
        And as I read about this EU stupidity the line “I am not a number” and the opening sequence was echoing in my mind. The sea bubble of suppression/repression is now mass-media and the output of the MSM. Number 2 is the current head of the EU but who is Number 1?

  7. The lesson is for individual countries to become self sufficient and self sustainable in basics like power and food, necessity is the mother on invention, that’s also ecologically efficient. Having large supranational networks is ok only when there are no problems physical or political, whenever/whereever that is.

    In the UK our health service is not self sustainable as it relies on many foreign staff. Weaker countires are drained of talent so can’t develop as quickly and many home nationals are unemployed, underemployed or undercut by foreign workers..

    Certainly there is far more opportunity for international exchange/trade if countries are self sustainable/sufficient in the basics of Maslow’s hierarchy.

    The failing Liberal model is failing socially because folk are waking up to the sacrifices they have been subliminally forced to make on the green altar. And the rich elite are getting richer and richer.

    • Taken to it’s logical conclusion, every person needs to be 100% self sufficient. Everything he/she eats, wears, uses, has to be produced by the person in question. Otherwise you are at the mercy of others and this is not acceptable.

      • Or should they be just self sufficient enough within the confines of the society ( or group) they are in.
        That surely was the old method.
        Everyone stays a self reliant as possible, each leading their our way but are able to call on others when a task is too big for the individual (or the family group) to cope with. e.g My family helps build your house because we know you would do the same for me and mine. The implicit (informal) contracts were limited in both effort and time — we do not live in each others pocket.

      • The problem s of m is that your preferred method is guaranteed to impoverish everyone.
        What’s so magical about national as opposed to regional self sufficiency, vs. personal self sufficiency?

    • It’s not so much a question of self-sufficiency, but of self-care. A position of self-care doesn’t say “I must be 100% self-reliant”, it says “I must be safe.” Being self-caring doesn’t preclude the assistance of others, quite the opposite. Recognizing when a task would be dangerous or very inefficient if done alone, and seeking assistance in those cases, keeps you safe. And on the flip side of the coin, refusing to help or give when it would put yourself at unacceptable risk, whether of bodily harm or financial strain or becoming a “second victim”, keeps you safe. A community of self-caring individuals will look out for themselves AND for each other.

  8. It is all numbers. They knew this was coming but elites with their backup systems could care less. Don’t let anyone forget their ignorance and distain for average citizens!

  9. Could’n those who needed power have started some of their windmills, and why blame someone that has no available power? It is your own problem to make sure there are enough power.

    • The problem is that no European country is big enough to guarantee wind supplies. Many calm spots are bigger than Germany, for instance. So, Germany needs to be guaranteed the ability to import power from neighbouring countries. One of the issues with this is that many times, the calm spot will also affect it’s neighbours, so there is no power to import.

      The EU officials are complaining about the fact that they aren’t being “good neighbours”, when in fact the problem is in the inherent design of the system because you can’t share something you don’t have.

  10. This situation doesn’t really have anything to do with climate change or climate change politics, or even power generation and distribution technology, one way or the other .. it’s just the vagaries of weather that sometimes just don’t mesh with our short-term needs and desires.

    All of our networked systems, be they power, communications, water supply, wastewater treatment, transportation, commodity distribution, etc. are built to handle the sorts of conditions and demands one might think of as the 95% probability event, give or take. It’s too costly to design for the 99% event. So an atypical weather event like an extended low or high temperature excursion, or wet or dry spell, etc. is going to stress the system and there will be at least minor failures.

    Where I live, in southwest Florida, we had an extremely wet winter and early spring last year due to El Nino, and the result was that the principal stormwater storage system we have here – Lake Okeechobee, which is a natural lake whose storage capacity was significantly increased by building a huge dike around it many decades ago to control flooding – was in danger of overtopping and and the dike failing,with potentially fatal flooding of South Florida. So last spring, to save the dike the Army Corps of Engineers greatly increased outflow releases, which go via two river systems east to the Atlantic and west to the Gulf of Mexico. The mud-laden waters of the lake spoiled the clear blue-green waters of the Gulf beach areas here, and on the east cost especially there was a huge spike in blue-green algae that fouled the waters of the intracoastal waterway. Everybody complained about the ACOE, and demanded immediate action.

    Now this year, we are in La Nina, we are having a drier than usual winter so far, and now the marine biologists are complaining that the ACOE needs to greatly increase the outflows so as restore the “normal” balance of salinity in the estuaries, else marine life will be damaged. Of course, the ACOE can’t just greatly increase the outflows in the two rivers, else it starve the Everglades to the south of needed overland flow later this spring.

    When this was a natural system a century ago, everybody complained of too much swamp and too many floods … and now, in a heavily engineered system everybody complains that the ACOE isn’t doing precisely what they want when the weather does whatever it does from time to time. So take your pick – blame God or Gaia, or blame the government.

    • “This situation doesn’t really have anything to do with climate change or climate change politics, or even power generation and distribution technology, one way or the other .. it’s just the vagaries of weather that sometimes just don’t mesh with our short-term needs and desires.

      All of our networked systems, be they power, communications, water supply, wastewater treatment, transportation, commodity distribution, etc. are built to handle the sorts of conditions and demands one might think of as the 95% probability event, give or take. It’s too costly to design for the 99% event. So an atypical weather event like an extended low or high temperature excursion, or wet or dry spell, etc. is going to stress the system and there will be at least minor failures.”

      Not necessarily. Reliability of electricity is taken very seriously by those running the power plants. Take a simplified assumption that all power generation is Nuke, and let’s say they all need to be refueled every 18 months and the process takes a week. So you schedule the downtime during spring and fall. That way, max power is available to run AC in the summer and heating needs in the winter. But you still build more than needed to handle the unplanned outages. At least that’s how it worked before the unpredictable wind and solar generators came along.

      • Reliability is a separate issue from the robustness of a network in responding to abnormal conditions of demand vs. supply. The power plants in SE Europe could be 100% online, with no failures at all, and they would still have an issue if simply demand exceeds supply, or if other factors intrude.

        The robustness of a network involves several factors, such as both the number and capacity of plants within the network; the number and capacity of interconnects with adjacent networks and their relative generating capacities; the inter-network compatibility as it relates to power quality vs. demand (the voltage stability of the individual generators, power factor performance, spikes and “noise”, etc); and lastly, network robustness depends also upon the power sharing agreements of the network operators.

        It appears that the SE European networks seem to suffer mostly from the latter, rather than the former, if this post is correct. A “failure of will” if you will.

    • “…the 95% probability event…”

      Electrical, and other key infrastructure systems, particularly ones affected by the weather, like storm water systems, are always built to a far higher standard than just 95%. You often hear government spokespeople saying that such and such was a one-in-a-hundred-year event to explain why it failed.

      Anybody building a power system that depends on the weather (South Australia, are you listening?) need to plan for the combination of very low wind/solar and very high demand. The fact that SA didn’t is an unconscionable lapse. The fact that Europe is going the same way is simple stupidity because they already have the SA example.

      • It’s not as simple as you suggest. There’s probability es expressed in return period in years, and confidence levels expressed as %, which percentage varies with the volume and quality of the data set upon which it is modeled, and they are not the same.

        The recurrence interval varies quite a bit depending upon the consequences of an exceedance. For instance, roadside ditches, culverts, etc. are designed to a 10 year event because if a bigger event occurs, the consequences are not severe, just somebody’s yard gets flooded temporarily. The required first floor elevation for new homes to be constructed in the USA is typically set at the 100 year event, because if the first floor floods it causes a great deal of damage. A power supply system’s required return period varies .. for residential areas, a likelihood of a failure once in 25 years is in most cases sufficient, but the problem is there are many different failure scenarios (wind, temperature, flood elevation, seismic acceleration, etc.) which can occur separately or in “worst case” be combined and possibly additive (like the earthquake followed by tsunami as happened at Fukushima). For critical civil infrastructure, such as hospitals, a much longer return period is likely to be imposed, such as once in 100 years. For large scale human safety critical structures like dams or nuclear power plants, the “probable maximum event” is likely the design requirement. For floods, the probable maximum flood is generally equivalent to a 500 year or longer event return period.

        It’s complicated, not simple. But for simple failure to provide enough capacity during an extreme demand event, it’s not usual to design for the long, 100-year event. The consequences of a failure would not justify the added cost.

    • There would have been sufficient power had the warmists not forced so many countries to abandon reliable power in favor of so called renewables.

      • and if the EU hadnt jumped in to support the stupid sanctions on Russia?
        Russias prices for oil n gas werent ridiculous..better than shipping it in from elsewhere.

  11. “What I see in the Balkans is clear evidence that everybody first secures its own consumption and only then, if they’re in a position to do so, they’ll help the others,’’ said Andras Totth

    Sounds like perfectly rational behaviour. Like putting on your O2 mask, before helping others.

  12. It is pretty sad when taking care of your own people first is considered sinful. The government is supposed to serve its citizens, not the rest of the world. If there is excess, sharing can be considered. But no government should be providing for people under the charge of OTHER governments until the citizens under ITS charge are secure.

    If you only had enough food to feed your starving children, would you give that food to someone else? (Exception: make the prophet a little cake first. Then you’ll survive the famine.)

    • “Taking care of your own people first” is a two edged sword. When you withhold assistance in order to avoid inconveniencing your own customers, then in another circumstance, when your own system is overtaxed or suffers a failure, then don’t expect any outside help.

      Here in the United States there is a longstanding custom that when operators of critical public infrastructure suffers a failure or catastrophe, their fellow system operators across the country immediately come to their aid. Power companies in particular do this here, and it’s all based upon a notion that when one suffers, it is incumbent upon others to render aid. Whenever we have a hurricane that creates widespread devastation and large scale power failures, utility folks from all over grab their gear and head to the scene of the catastrophe.

      As far as routine power sharing, our electrical grid in the USA is very robust and highly interconnected, such that when a non-routine demand arises, or a plant goes down unexpectedly help is immediately available. The reciprocation is, well, reciprocal. It’s good for all.

      • Reciprocal, except that no state would allow it’s own citizens to be blacked out to prevent a blackout in another.

      • They provide from their excess. Excess that they have available because they use reliable forms of power.
        No grid operator would ever put their own system at risk in order to help a neighboring grid.

      • HIvemand and MarkW – it’s not an all or nothing decision in an exteme power demand scenario. Utility operators here in the USA when confronted typically will employ either brownouts (reduced voltage) or rolling blackouts (i.e., you provide full power to limited areas for limited periods of time, then shift to other areas being powered, until demand again matches up with supply). In fact in the USA utility companies typically agree to grant discounts to customers who sign up to have their power limited by time of day, in order to preserve capacity for those who are willing to pay the full rate.

      • Not relevant to the subject.
        No operator who wants to remain employed, would cause brownouts or rolling blackouts in his region just to help a neighboring region avoid brownouts or rolling black outs.

  13. Sort of like “America First” idea. Gee, maybe that is a basic foundation of a nation state. I guess you would also have to take care of your borders, too. What a concept.

  14. Part of the problem here is we don’t know who were the EU members in need. It seems from the article that the Southeastern Countries with their dirty antiquated non-renewable power plants, were not helping “other” EU members. Though they themselves seem to be scraping by.
    I have read that there is a bad natural gas shortage in both Spain and France. Germany is also having problems.
    So exactly who are the needy mouths?

    michael

    • http://www.novinite.com/articles/87978/Bulgaria+Business%3A+Reduced+CO2+Quota+is+a+Disaster

      Part of the problem is the countries of SE Europe had their CO2 allowance lowered below what even the Kyoto treaty allowed them: see the link above for Bulgaria’s case.

      Another part of the problem are the mandatory subsidies for “renewables”: in 2014 Greece was paying over 1 billion € each year, Romania around 500 million € each year.

      Yet another part of the problem is that for lifting the “green” credentials of EU hydro power is not considered green in SE Europe: for example at least 29% of the electricity consumed in Romania each year comes from hydropower yet the 29% do not count towards Romania’s green credentials. Conventional hydro power is taxed almost 100% (because in the ’90s the Germans complained about Romania having cheap energy, which they regarded as “non-competive advantage” – now the prices are almost the same with taxes being more than half of the final price) and investment stalled.

      The “hoarding” accusation is BS: parts of Romania depend on Bulgaria for electricity same as parts of Bulgaria depend on Romanian production, and I did not hear of whole towns freezing to death on either side of the border. Same goes for all the border regions in the area: the towns are supplied by the closest power station, no matter on which side of the border it is. Despite the hype in the press the exports continued. What “hoarding” means in this case is the old partners were supplied instead of selling to the highest bidder. What _did_ happen is Bulgaria wanted to buy more electricity from Romania and Romania declined because it did not have a surplus and could not sell gas because while there is a domestic production it does not cover the consumption fully and the contracts with the Germans which sell Russian gas in Romania do not allow reselling it.

  15. “…Unlike the USA, the true leaders of the EU are not chosen by the people…”

    Exactly. That’s part of why many people voted for Brexit.

    The other half of the problem is that a super-state undermines democracy and this is an excellent illustration. If you are a Brit you put the interests of Britain first, if French, France first etc. From a European viewpoint it is tribalism writ large – insoluble unless cultural change results in folk thinking of themselves as European rather than French, German, Polish etc. This is unlikely and in my view undesirable

    • + 1 (and extremely well said !).

      It most definitely IS unlikely and it IS undesirable.

      As a proud “deplorable”, I believe it is also unsustainable.

      PS: I do rather like the George Carlin attitude to “global warming”.

      Regards,
      WL

    • “…Unlike the USA, the true leaders of the EU are not chosen by the people…”
      Does that mean the American Deep State is actually an elected body?

  16. The prisoners’ dilemma is connected to the psychological study of cooperation in “public goods games”. In these, participants have the option of either making costly contributions to the public good, or alternatively “free-riding”, making no contribution while benefiting from the contributions of others. The game also includes the option of punishing others, such as the free-riders.

    These games were designed with the expectation of demonstrating that cooperation would be promoted and contribution encouraged by the punishment of free-riders. However what took researchers by surprise was an unexpected behaviour – “antisocial punishment”, that is, contributors – not free-riders – being punished. Free-riders were also punished (“prosocial punishment”), but the level of antisocial punishment sometimes equalled that of prosocial, to the extent that any incentive to contribute or cooperate disappeared.

    Such innate human behaviours frustrate attempts to induce or force humans or groups to cooperate. Apparently levels of antisocial punishment differ between societies and countries in relation to cultural factors and the strength of the rule of law.

    http://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms1442

  17. With the Oroville Dam failure unfolding as I write, the chickens are really coming home to roost this week. If the Western world continues with this madness, it’s only going to become more commonplace. Get ready for a run of bad luck.

    • A lot of the Oroville fiasco has to do with CA knowingly & willingly directing capital (a scarce resource) to “train to nowhere” and “college for illegals” as opposed to maintaining the spillways, or upgrading “emergency spillways” to modern standards.

      This wasn’t caused by sending CA resources to their neighbors

  18. Well boys and girls, just look at the origin of the “European (Taxation without Elections) Union” … video attached here below.

    Regards to all,
    WL

  19. Unlike the USA, the true leaders of the EU are not chosen by the people. They never have to answer for their mistakes, to the people whose lives they blight.

    And so … Brexit?

  20. An extremely clever prisoner was sitting in his cell at 9am on Monday morning and the prison governor dropped by and told him that before the end of the week, on Friday, he will have been executed but that on the day of his execution he would have no idea that would be his final day until told.

    Ah he thought, being clever, if I get to Friday then I’d know that must be the day of execution so it can’t be as the governor told me I wouldn’t know. Similarly, if I get to Thursday I know it can’t be Friday therefore it can’t be Thursday as I’d know it must be Thursday. He then applied the algorithm back through the week and smiled to himself, “I cannot be executed, if I am not to know on the fateful day”.

    Unfortunately there ws a knock on his cell door on wednesday morning and he was taken off and executed againsts all of his expectations.

  21. The EU suffered the first setback when it failed to reach a common constitution. The attempt to impose an EU tax has also failed, which means that the EU administration is financially dependent on the member states of the EU.
    All this results from the founding of the EU by then 7 founding states, whereby each of the states received the right of vetoing every single decision.

    With the continued veto power for any single new state, the EU as a whole is practically incapable of action.

  22. So we have the ridiculous situation that every single EU member state has had reservations about international trade agreements, which resulted in many street protests.

    With the US election, we have a lot of street protests against Trump, who first struck up all international trade agreements.

  23. “Unlike the USA, the true leaders of the EU are not chosen by the people. They never have to answer for their mistakes, to the people whose lives they blight.”

    Didn’t Americans die fighting a war to prevent Europe from falling into the hands of unelected bureaucrats ruling from a city starting with ‘B?’

  24. “…everybody first secures its own consumption and only then, if they’re in a position to do so, they’ll help the others,’’ said Andras Totth …

    If everybody secured its own consumption, there would be no need to buy the surplus produced by others. Apparently, some countries have the foresight to produce enough power for themselves plus a little surplus, and other countries don’t even produce enough for themselves. What I don’t understand is why the countries with foresight are being made out to be the villains in this story for not sharing when demands are high. Shouldn’t the villains be the ones who failed to plan correctly for their own needs?

  25. Greece, Hungary and Bulgaria have the lowest levels of renewables in the EU (absent Poland, I suppose).

    so their problems have nothing to do with renewables.

    They might have something to do with an anomalously warm arctic, the one you are all ignoring ?

    • Actually it has to do with the freezing temperatures and lack of supply by conventional power, due to an over reliance on “Renewable” supplies that have failed to produce anywhere near their boilerplate output capacity.

    • Did anyone, anywhere, throughout all of history, ever claim that all of problems of Greece, Hungary, etc, are due completely to their use of renewables?

      For crying out Griff, when will you produce a valid, logically coherent argument?
      You are an embarrassment to protoplasm.

  26. “Why is the EU so stubborn about embracing renewables, despite the obvious problems? Unlike the USA, the true leaders of the EU are not chosen by the people. They never have to answer for their mistakes, to the people whose lives they blight.”

    This type of stuff marginalises WUWT.

  27. I really like the photo that is the lead to this piece. It make me wonder just how much energy that particular windmill (aka wind generator) has to produce to make up the cost of flying the helicopter and deicing the blades? I’m pretty sure it would be more efficient to simply wait for the inevitable thaw that comes with Global Warming!
    Bur what do I know, the only attribute I possess is a modicum of common sense.

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