The De-industrialisation of Europe

 

Günther Oettinger is the one on the left

Last night we MEPs had an opportunity for what’s called “an exchange of views” with German Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger.  He set out to describe his “Energy Road-Map to 2050”.  This was nothing less than his plan for the de-industrialisation of Europe.  He called it “de-carbonisation”, but so far as I can see it amounts to the same thing.

At least he had the good grace to admit that it was difficult to predict forty years ahead.  There would be technological developments which we couldn’t dream of today.  Indeed the hubris of setting policy for our grandchildren is amazing.  How would we feel in 2012 if we were bound by energy policies set out decades ago by Harold Wilson and Tony Benn?

Yet in one sense he has a point.  As he said, some of the energy infrastructure decisions we make today will be with us for decades.  A nuclear power station commissioned now is likely to last sixty years.  The same cannot be said of renewables.  Wind turbines are unlikely to achieve their design life of 25 years.  We are already seeing their abandoned rusting hulks.  They are spinning post-industrial junk — although in Hawaii, they aren’t spinning any more.  

We are hearing stories of the insolvency of large-scale solar photo-voltaic enterprises, while Chinese solar cell manufacturers are reported to be in deep trouble.

Commissioner Oettinger recognised that agriculture, industry and transport could not be totally decarbonised, and suggested that therefore electricity generation would have to be zero-CO2.  He even showed just a glimmer of trepidation at his own ambition, but justified it by saying “I was appointed in 2009 and I inherited these targets”.  Did I hear just an echo there of the Nuremberg defence?  “Only following orders”?

Oettinger set great store by technological fixes, and especially “the smart grid”, invoked like some sort of talismanic charm.  Slovenian MEP Romana Jordan came up with a wonderful comment: “Smart grids are not enough — we also need to generate electricity”.  A blindingly obvious point which the Energy Commissioner had perhaps missed.

I had the opportunity to ask a question.

“I’m Roger Helmer, Spokesman on Industry and Energy for the United Kingdom Independence Party.  May I ask the Commissioner if he has considered the competitive position of Europe in the world?  The EU is pursuing expensive, unreliable and intermittent renewables, while China and India race to build coal-fired power stations, and America looks forward to an industrial renaissance based on cheap, indigenous fossil fuel — shale gas.  How will the EU compete?

“Is the Commissioner aware of studies in the UK that suggest that up to half of UK households could be in fuel poverty by the end of the decade as a result of our pursuit of renewables in our attempts to meet Brussels targets?

“If the Commission wants to reduce CO2 emissions, why has it biased the market by favouring renewables at the expense of nuclear?

“We are closing coal-fired power stations under the EU’s Large Combustion Plant Directive, and we are closing nuclear power stations for a range of reasons.  In your own country, Commissioner, you have decided to close all nuclear power stations.  Do you imagine that this base-load capacity can be replaced by intermittent renewables?

“Has it ever crossed your mind that in 2050, sociology professors will be setting their students dissertations on our early-21st-century obsession with CO2 emissions, which by then will be seen as a bizarre collective psychosis?”

I wish I could give you the Commissioner’s answer, but apart from reaffirming his confidence in anthropogenic global warming, there was little of substance in his reply.

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9 Responses to The De-industrialisation of Europe

  1. John Russell says:

    You could at least give us a link to the commissioner’s reply, Roger: or did it contain information you’d rather no one read? Perhaps we’d like to make our own minds up how much substance it contained.

    • @John Russell

      I imagine that this was a meeting with no official minute or recording of proceedings, and we can only rely upon notes from those present, to enlighten us. Still as Mr. Helmer did remark, “there was little of substance in his reply.” However for a flavour of what he may have said, and the fashion in which he said it see the undernoted links.

      Here are official links to Herr Oberführer Oettinger’s Speechs / Agendae

      Energy Roadmap 2050 – Brussels, 15 December 2011
      Press release, Q&A, and video of the “event” / “photo opportuntity”
      at this URL.
      http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/oettinger/headlines/news/2011/12/20111215_en.htm

      See also this hogwash and balderdash about “biofuels”
      http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/oettinger/headlines/speeches/2012/03/doc/20120320.pdf

      Mr. Helmer and others met him the day after that last “biofuels” speech, to discuss the ramifications of these policies as decribed above, but suffered mere pompous bluster and empty rhetoric instead of a reasoned debate.

      When it comes to appointed political commissars in the EU, there is no discussion, but just diktat and dogma instead. Oettinger has a “Cabinet” of junior commissars to do his bidding and a staff of at least 25, including secretaries, and even drivers. There is a whole vast apparatus dependant on this falderol and flummery, and so it will continue until the chief fraudsters are indicted, tried, found guilty, fined & have their assets sequestered and sold, and finally imprisoned for the grand larceny and frauds they have committed.

  2. rjhmep says:

    Sorry, John; but his reply was verbal and I don’t take shorthand. I reconstructed my own question from the speaking notes I made during his talk.

  3. I think the key to this policy is given in the quote –

    Commissioner Oettinger …….. justified it by saying “I was appointed in 2009”

    None of these people are accountable, since they have not been elected and cannot be democratically removed. To paraphrase Nigel Farage, The questions that we all want to ask are, “Who are you, Commissioner Oettinger? Nobody has ever heard of you! Who voted for you, and by what process were you elected?”

  4. Hi Roger,
    I have heard similar comments from him during a session last year organized by MP´s of german conservative party CDU/CSU named “energy dialog”. With two exceptions:
    1. He confessed that he has no idea about wether climate change may happen as predicted or not, but he rely completely on what “scientists” say.
    2. He warned that the “Energiewende” energy -u- turn . in germany may produce too high costs, to stay competitive.
    Few weeks later he published the “energy efficiency guideline ” which is in fact rations electrical energy to every costumer, by allowing him every year 1,5 % less consumption.
    Nurenberg is not really far.

  5. David W. says:

    Years ago the American political commentator, Dr. Thomas Sowell, pretty much summed Oettinger’s game, and I have condensed the agenda even further in comments on previous, similar topics. Roger, let’s pretend your Oettinger and his distinguished co-concerned: Would you have a problem proposing the architecture of a de-industrialized Europe so long as you and your friends are assured vast wealth and power during the process? Crisis construction has been around for thousands of years, yet most who walk among us don’t seem to give it a second thought.

    Believe me; Oettinger’s game has nothing to do with carbon, but everything to do with defining who gets rich (Oettinger & Co.) and who pays (you and me) by force of law, down to the tiniest details. This reason alone is enough to deny them at every level, every turn.

  6. Pingback: Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup | Watts Up With That?

  7. pier luigi caffese says:

    10 millions jobs.This is the target Eu-27 biofuels via HTSE biomass chemical process.520 billion
    liter biofuels.520 billions turnover/y at pump 1 euro liter.Usa and France utilizing nuclear.Caffese
    utilize only renewables offshore wind-pumped hydro pr phs(step en France) and a big idea the marine big lakes to have 16 TW stored seawater (dam or barrage is 100 high sea level).Caffese
    proposed Oettinger an Advanced Fuel Consortia EU-27:investment 100 billions-biorefineries minimun 20-turnover y 520 billions euro

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