Recent and shocking events in the Ukraine show us once again that safety and security are too often taken for granted. Our deepest sympathy and fullest support go to the Ukrainian people. But the events also show that we must be continuously alert to safeguard our precious freedom.
Our prime focus is on the people in the Ukraine, the injured one’s and those who have lost their lives, whilst defending their country and protecting their family and home. Neighbouring countries are obviously worried what it will do to their safety and security.
And then there is the discussion on security of the natural gas supply, and the impact above changes are having on the supply and price levels.
In some of my previous jobs I worked and gave leadership to companies who gave advice on various gas issues. One thing I clearly remember is, that already over the last 12+ years various advices were given not to be too dependent on the supply of natural gas coming from the East. I obviously comprehend that in the past choices have been made based on numerous criteria; and costs of supply being an important one. But I’m annoyed viewing the current situation of gas supply to Europa and the Netherlands in particular. Why have we manoeuvred ourselves in this situation? And articles in the media, where it’s mentioned that Gas supply firms are now looking into alternatives, doesn’t help to improve my mood either, as this should have been done a long time ago.
Sure, in the Netherlands, the Groningen gas situation has not helped us in recent years. But still, isn’t the role of those ‘in control’ to look way ahead and assess potential risks and come with the correct mitigating actions. And not to work in firefighting mode.
So, the obvious question is: what can we do in the short term to be less dependent on natural gas?
Transition to renewable energies takes time and could bring significant costs. But given the current price levels, the business case for investing in alternatives becomes more and more interesting. This means immediately making available funds for those who can’t finance the investment by themselves. Fortunately, interest rates are still low. Start with energy savings measures, followed by actions focussing on energy generation by other means than natural gas. However, in the Netherlands the lead time for ordering Heat pumps is becoming very long, and hence concentrated action is required here to improve the overall supply chain. Also, it’s noticed that there is a shortage of labour in some installation branches in my country.
A recent message from the IEA is still worth reading. They have issued a so-called 10-Point Plan on how the European Union countries can reduce its reliance on the natural gas imports coming from the “East”. For further details, please click here.
I fully understand if, for the immediate short term, one chooses to continue using coalfired plants and nuclear energy. Of course, I understand the concerns from a climate change perspective, but life doesn’t always provide us with free and easy options, and forces us to take interim steps balancing all sorts of societal aspects. I’ve focused before on the potential role of nuclear energy in the energy transition and welcome an objective fact-based debate on the issue.
We have published various blogs over the years focusing on alternative measures, and I recommend the readers to reflect on them.
I understand it’s not easy to manage energy changes on a regional and global scale. But the current energy crisis could have been better tackled if all of us were better prepared for the next phases of energy transition. We have waisted many years for all sorts of reasons. And one of the most important one’s is not having a clear masterplan and subsequently lacking well defined intermediate annual targets on how to achieve the ultimate goals in line with the Paris agreement. Fortunately, there are many positive and successful initiatives by individual companies. But we need leadership across the board, in order to make an effective connection and affordable implementation ! We owe it to those people fighting for our freedom.