Shall skyrocketing energy prices bring down consumption

Many companies exploit the war in Ukraine to skyrocket their energy prices, leaving ordinary citizens with unaffordable bills and in trouble.

For months, many households in their country have been able to receive ever-increasing energy bills.

Uses of Electricity

Electricity consumption, in general, over the last few decades has grown exponentially because electricity got widely used to perform several tasks that were previously performed using coal, natural gas, or human muscles, such as steel fabrication, car assembly, milking cows, cleaning the house, etc., so electricity is widely used and many households count it on their monthly household bill.

With the discovery of electricity, human life has become much easier by using electricity to perform many functions every day, such as lighting, heating, cooling homes and operating various electrical appliances. But because it had become such an easy source, lots of people did not think about it and used it ‘with full sips and full of fun’. Though since February, a lot of the fun of having electricity at ease, has disappeared, because the figures that flew forward on the electricity meter also skyrocketed the bill.

File:Gas meter indicator.jpgSimilarly, it is now for the gas meter where many are anxiously keeping an eye on the gas meter, because natural gas prices or city gas prices have multiplied and put pressure on the household budget. People keep an eye on their gas consumption and try to decrease it.

Today it would be impossible to live without electricity and gas. A day without electricity in the modern home shall be a day of stress and trouble. All of the appliances in the home including washing machines, electric stove and oven, microwave, refrigerator, fan or aircooling and heating, television, computer, and others operate with the aid of electricity. For many it would bring life to a standstill when not available anymore. Lots of youngsters forget that even their cell and tablet phones are both powered by electricity, raising the cyphers of their electricity bill. With electricity, we can charge our phones and use them to communicate with friends and loved ones that are far away, but once we can not charge them any more there will be no communication.

Electricity prices have risen significantly since 2020, after nearly a decade of hardly any increases. Since the introduction of the computer and its smaller brothers and sisters, notebooks, tablets, e-readers and cell phones more electricity has been consumed for those gadgets which have become daily ‘life’ tools. As with overall personal spending on energy, the increase today is more marked than it was in 2008.

Electricity prices are not immune from general inflation.

European short-term power prices surged to the highest levels on record in July and are set to rise even more, heaping more pressure on consumers already struggling with runaway energy bills.

Almost 60 percent of the EU’s energy needs were met by net imports in 2020. Germany’s energy import dependency was still higher at 63.7 percent – a slight decrease compared to the previous year’s 67 percent.

German power for August is trading at 385 euros ($394) per megawatt-hour, a 23% increase on the daily average for this month on the Epex Spot exchange. In France, where power prices are even higher, August’s futures indicate a 17% increase from the average day-ahead rate for July.

Map shows energy import dependency in European countries in 2020. Source: eurostat.

Energy import dependency in European countries in 2020 in percent of energy needs covered by net imports. Source: eurostat 2022.

Energy prices in Europe increased sharply in 2021/2022 in large parts because supply could not keep up with the increase in demand – especially for natural gas – as countries recovered from the coronavirus pandemic. At the same time, Russia’s behaviour as a gas exporter and rising tensions at its border with Ukraine stoked worries about the reliability of Europe’s eastern neighbour as a key energy supplier. All of this has brought the questions of dependence on fossil fuel imports and what effects the ongoing energy transition has back at the top of the public debate. {Germany and the EU remain heavily dependent on imported fossil fuels}

With the extreme heat Europe encountered one would have thought that electricity consumption would have diminished; contrary, people used more air-conditioning, electricity fans, cooled drinks. Knowing that because of climate change we shall have more warmer periods, one is afraid the consumption of electricity by air-conditioners is going to augment. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), as of 2018, 1.6 billion air conditioning units were installed, which accounted for an estimated 20% of electricity usage in buildings globally with the number expected to grow to 5.6 billion by 2050.[Global air conditioner stock, 1990-2050 (Technical report). International Energy Agency. November 19, 2009. Archived from the original on February 18, 2021. Retrieved May 12, 2021.]

Photo by Pok Rie on Pexels.com

Benchmark electricity costs are surging as Europe grapples with extreme heat and the possibility of winter gas shortages, caused by a further reduction in Russian gas supplies to the continent. At the same time there is the fear that because we had an extreme good Summer we shall have also a severe cold Winter. Countries and energy companies want to be prepared and are taking care that they will have enough gas and electricity to be available and to sell. They are racing to secure power as higher energy prices could translate into more pain for households and industry battered by soaring living costs caused by the highest inflation levels in decades.

“It’s been an extreme month,”

said Fabian Ronningen, an analyst at the independent energy research and business intelligence company headquartered in Oslo, Rystad Energy.

“Prices will continue to increase towards the winter, on the condition that the supply situation from Russia is not improved. That is still the big joker and will continue to be a price driver in the power market.”

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

At the moment is Vladimir Putin using the gas tap as one of his weapons and control instruments as well as to show Europe and the United States of America that they better be careful how to treat the Russian Federation and how far they want to go to help Ukraine with their battle against Russia.
For the moment we are also looking with Arguseyes at Zaporizhzhia the largest nuclear power plant in Europe. If damage would be caused by bombing there, we shall face a huge international nuclear disaster, much bigger than the Chernobyl disaster, and many people will also be put completely without electricity. In the vicinity of the nuclear power plant, the distribution of iodine tablets has already begun and tests are being carried out to see how people can be evacuated from the irradiated areas.

Next to the sword of electricity Putin has the world in his grip by the delivery or non-delivery of natural gas.

Moscow has kept gas markets guessing over whether it will crimp flows further, pushing up prices for the fuel and driving up wholesale electricity costs. Also because of the water shortages in Europe, the nuclear reactors have the problem of insufficient cooling possibilities and therefore cannot run at full speed to supply the necessary energy. The extreme temperatures combined with low availability at France’s nuclear reactors, vital to the region’s power system, are straining supplies.

Natural gas is the second most important primary energy source in Germany’s energy mix, after petroleum. In 2016, its share of primary energy consumption (i.e. the total amount of energy used in a country each year) amounted to 22.6%. According to the Arbeitsgemeinschaft Energiebilanzen e.V. (Working Group on Energy Balances – AGEB), domestic consumption in Germany stood at 3,022 PJ (LHV).
Germany consumes 39,883 cubic feet of natural gas per capita every year (based on the 2017 population of 82,658,409 people), or 109 cubic feet per capita per day. As such, Germany consumes in a year 2.2 times more than its total reserves and makes it dependent on others, mainly Gazprom from Russia.

The high gas prices have already forced Germany to bail out utility Uniper SE. The country has also started to pull from storage the natural gas it was stockpiling for winter amid a deteriorating supply situation. That will make it harder for Germany to reach its target of having storage sites 90% full by November, putting security of supply for the winter at risk.

Photo by Patrycja Grobelny on Pexels.com

In private households, natural gas is the most important energy source on the heat market, in Germany accounting for approximately 44%. There, more than 90% of natural gas is used as a source of heating. Also in Belgium gas is mostly used for central heating and proved previously to be much cheaper than electric heating. But now there can come a shift in that.

For far too long Europe has been too dependent on countries outside Europe for its energy supply. Now it is experiencing the difficulties of its procrastinating policy in finding proper solutions to the EU’s energy needs.

That in May before Putin’s great parade in Moscow, the G7 or Group of Seven nations, including the United States, Canada, Japan, France, Germany, Italy, and Britain, the seven largest “advanced” economies, agreed to ban or phase out Russian oil and gas imports in response to Moscow’s Ukraine invasion, proved not to be helping much to stop the war, nor to safeguard the prices. Already long ago we should have abandoned the 45% of EU gas imports from Russia. The stupid thing about the blockade is that we still buy oil and gas from other countries (like India) which originally comes from Russia, and as such we still keep pouring lots of money into the treasury of Russia’s war machine.

We must admit that the invasion of Ukraine showed us how certain countries in the East of Europe or not really with their heart in and for the union. Furthermore, this war has starkly revealed a truth that governments also failed to learn that energy is also a matter of national security, and that we seriously should make more work of getting off fossil fuels and replacing them with renewable power.

Preparing for Winter several governments used television stations to advise people to use less electricity and gas, by turning down the thermostat by 1 or more degrees Celcius and to use the water in the shower for a few minutes, instead of taking a bath. They forget that those interested in our earth and the preservation of nature are already taking care a lot not to overuse energy, and as such can not do much more, without going to have it (unhealthy) too cold in the house in Winter.

It got time that eleven European member states now agreed to accelerate the transition to green energy, renewable gas, and more economical energy consumption. They also should come to terms to keep the prices under control and not having companies making absurd high prices boosting their economic gains. In the European Union there should be cooperation to exchange energy and to have an open and interconnected energy market. Consequently, this will reduce dependence on fossil fuels from Russia as well as other countries outside the Union.

For sure all teh EU countries should also make more work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 55% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels. Nice to see there is now a package prepared that consists of ten legislative proposals, which should ensure the realisation of the objectives of theEuropean Green Deal. The ultimate goal: a climate-neutral continent by 2050.

Trying to cut nuclear energy and using gas we should be careful wich solution to bring forward. Germany will notably use less gas for producing electricity, replacing it with energy produced by coal plants.

“That means, to be honest, more coal-fired power plants for a transitional period. That’s bitter, but it’s almost necessary in this situation to reduce gas consumption,”

Photo by Mikhail Nilov on Pexels.com

Habeck, from the Greens, noted. Existing coal plants will be upgraded to temporarily compensate the decline of energy production from gas-fired plants. In Belgium the Greens also have a strange solution; They want the citizens to prohibit to use gas stoves and heating by 2050, but they are now going to use gas plants to create electricity.

In many countries we hear that governments want the industry to reduce gaspower and to concentrate on the use of electricity … but where are they going to get all that electricity from?!?

As fossil oil and gas are being phased out, many see the need to pusing plants for bio fuel is a very bad solution which shall bring foodproduction in danger. Several countries, a.o. Germany, will likely reduce its overall dependence on energy imports, but shall have to continue to rely on supply not only from within the European network but also from third countries.

The EU should make work of reducing the more than two-thirds of the EU’s energy imports it had in 2020 and which were petroleum products, followed by gas (about a quarter) and coal (less than 5%).

Graph shows extra-EU imports of natural gas to the EU from main trading partners 2020. Source: eurostat 2021.

Energy import patterns vary widely across the EU member states. While more than 80 percent of imports in countries such as Malta, Greece and Sweden are petroleum products, over a third is gas in Hungary, Austria and Italy. The total import dependency rate in 2019 ranged from 5 percent (Estonia) to more than 90 percent in Cyprus, Luxembourg and Malta.

Graph shows extra-EU imports of oil to the EU from main trading partners 2020. Source: eurostat 2021.
Source: eurostat 2021.

Photo by Yan Krukov on Pexels.com

Now the people feeling the pressure on their purse, the use of gas and electricity will be kept more under a regulatory eye that will try to keep consumption as low as possible. But for some things we have to speak of a current necessary use or a consumption that can no longer be dispensed with, such as that for preparing meals, being equipped with washing machines (for dishes and clothes), electronics and television.
Today, we must assume that electricity, gas and water are essential resources that are not luxuries at all and thus should not be taxed at 21%. That is why it must be ensured that throughout Europe the maximum VAT rate will be 6%.

Photo by Vitaly on Pexels.com

Without electricity, we would not be able to see in our streets and homes because they would be no current to power these manufactured light bulbs and street lights. But one should consider if it is still valuable to have the street lights on during the night. With good paint one can ensure that lanes can be visibly followed by the vehicle’s intended light beam. Turning off the lights in buildings not in use during the night, as well as on roads, will save a lot of energy and reduce light pollution.

Young people should also think about changing the time they go out, which would reduce the need for heating and lighting.

In the United Kingdom lots of people decided not to pay their bill anymore. You would think they first would do everything to reduce their use of energy, but that seems to be a very difficult taks for many.

The U.K. government has been urged to set a target to slash household energy demand by 20% through Covid-style measures to avert potential gas shortages in winter.

Charity Nesta estimates that a 10% reduction in household gas use can be achieved through a combination of measures, including turning down the flow temperature of boilers. The charity also suggests turning off preheat settings on combination boilers can cut gas use by up to 3%.

The call for energy rationing measures comes just a few hours before Ofgem reveals the level of the new price cap. We should be aware that as long as the war in Ukraine shall continue we shall have the sword of Damocles hanging above our head presenting us with raising prices.

New research by Friends of the Earth suggests there are almost 9.000 areas across England and Wales where communities are at higher risk for ‘serious financial hardship’ as a result of unaffordable energy costs. In Great Britain as in Belgium there are alreay companies which stopped or halved their production line because their energy costs have become to high and would make it impossible to sell their products at a price the consumer would be willing to pay. In the U.K. the energy price cap has also blown a hole in the government’s ambitious heat pump rollout plan.

Many eyes are directed to introducing heat pumps in private homes.

In a media webinar, joined by ELN, Greg Jackson, the founder and Chief Executive Officer of the British renewable energy group specialising in sustainable energy Octopus Energy, said:

“What we really need to do now as a nation is to get heat pumps to the masses.

He reminds us that it is like at the beginning of the cheaper cars.

“It’s the Ford Model T of heating. That’s the next phase and I think the government’s grant will enable us to kickstart that but it will only be the beginning.

“Almost every barrier can be solved. It’s like the electric car revolution and people said

‘there won’t be enough chargers’

or

‘the grid won’t cope’.

“Well, here we are, we are now seeing five times more electric cars in the UK than we did two years ago and they are representing something like 20% to 25% of new car sales. Heat pumps can follow the same trajectory.”

In the revision of heat supply sources, heat pumps and solar panels are a plausible solution. But homeowners renting out houses will not be so quick to provide such things for their tenants, leaving the tenant of houses and apartments literally out in the cold.

Photo by Annushka Ahuja on Pexels.com

Therefore at first, governments should work to stabilise the market and over the longer term to diversify our sources of energy which will help protect customers from similar price shocks in the future. This catastrophic price cap shall continue to force hundreds of thousands more households in a situation where they shall have to consider waht to eat and how to make the best out of the week.

As spiralling bills present a bleak picture for the coming winter months, it seems that work to improve energy efficiency declined by more than 50 per cent in the first six months of this year. For this we can blame the drop on failed management by the government and certainly all the bickering of the Belgian and Dutch politicians does not help the population.

All over the European Union the governments should freeze energy bills and protect millions of families this winter. They also should come to tax the excess profit by appropriate amounts.

In certain countries isolation of the houses is still a problem.

“The government should have been working round the clock to insulate homes and ensure as many households as possible benefit from lower bills.

British shadow climate change minister Kerry McCarthy said.

“Its failure to do so despite repeated warnings risks leaving millions out in the cold.”

Ms McCarthy said that there was still time for the government to adopt Labour’s plan to freeze energy bills and protect millions of families this winter.

“Failing to act would be unforgivable,”

she added.

Friends of the Earth head of policy Mike Childs called on Boris Johnson’s successor to make energy efficiency a top priority.

“The poor level of insulation in UK homes is a shocking testament to the government’s failure to take this issue seriously,”

he said.

“This winter, millions of households will be paying sky-high bills for heat that will simply escape through roofs, walls and draughty windows and doors.

Photo by Aleksandar Pasaric on Pexels.com

Everywhere throughout Europe ministers should make energy efficiency a top priority and commit to funding a street-by-street home insulation programme, focusing on those most in need. Therefore priority in the funding should go to the counsil and municipality flats and social housing. It is noteworthy that there are also far too many homes there where the boilers are of very outdated high-consumption gas systems.

The words of Mike Childs should be taken at heart also at the continent:

“This winter, millions of households will be paying sky-high bills for heat that will simply escape through roofs, walls and draughty windows and doors.

It is at those situations, that the government can come to help people to lower the spenditure and loss of energy.

In the U.K. more than 450.000 people have signed up to the campaign backed by RMT and the Communication Workers Union (CWU), as a toxic mix of plummeting take-home pay and soaring double-digit inflation pushes millions of families to the brink of financial oblivion. Their Enough is Enough is a campaign to fight the cost of living crisis. (Learn more about the campaign)

People are already trying to consume less energy, but there are limits to that decreasing use of energy. What makes it harder is also that today it looks like we all have to work harder to be able to buy less and to have more limitations in our free time. Already for years there are organisations and people (like me) who ask that the government would take it serious to prtect the lower incomes, also having a minimum wage of at least  14€/jour and an inflation busting-rise in pensions and benefits, with a minimum pension of 1.500€ (net).

It is also unacceptable that in our modern society in recent months more and more people who are not capable of providing for their daily food are visiting the food banks. In the last two months in particular, twice as many people have turned to emergency agencies.
The public assistance or social services departments are struggling with overtime and their limitations in providing adequate solutions for those in need and those who are sinking deeper and deeper into money problems and poverty.

In a research it was shown that more than eight in 10 want energy bills cut and a similar amount want action to end food poverty, thought to be affecting a staggering 7.3 million adults and 2.6 million children in Britain in April, even before the worst of price rises this autumn, according to the Food Foundation.

Some 78 per cent want decent homes for all, while about seven in 10 want higher taxes on the wealthiest in society.

CWU head Dave Ward urged action to

“stop our country going off the deep end.”

“The polling shows that Enough is Enough has the people’s support, and that our proposed answers to this crisis are far more popular than any of those put forward by political parties,”

he said.

The general secretary Eddie Dempsey added that it is

“time for Westminster to listen”

after years of attacks on working people’s living standards.

Police force in Brussels. against the Gele Hesjes

Yellow Harnesses and Kick Out Globalists at a yellow vest demonstration in The Hague 29 December 2018.

As I wrote already before, in several of my articles on several websites, this continuing position of demanding more and more from ordinary citizens and squeezing them like lemons will endanger democracy and there will come a time when the people will no longer accept it. The “Mouvement des gilets jaunes“or  “Yellow vests” protests in France, Belgium and Holland is such a harbinger of what can await us if we do not intervene in time and efficiently enough.

Also now we hear more voices that there should come an end unto this position of increasing prices which make it impossible for an ordinary family to live decently.

“We won’t tolerate it any more,”

Eddie Dempse warned.

“We demand dignity in work, security in our lives and respect from those we elect.”

Many people in the European Union as well as in Great Britain do not get enough recognition for the work they do.

“And if we don’t get it, we are prepared to build a mass national campaign to boot them out and change this country for the better.”

Labour MP Ian Byrne, who is also co-chair of the Fans Supporting Foodbanks charity which has backed the present Enough is Enough campaign, noted that

“ordinary people have chipped in to support foodbanks and pantries,”

not Tory ministers.

The member for Liverpool West Derby added:

“With rising energy prices and wages not keeping up, tens of millions more people face being pushed over the edge and into the abyss.”

“We are going to see poverty in Britain like we haven’t seen in generations. These poll results show that the people won’t tolerate that disgrace — they are fed up with inaction.”

“We want energy bills capped, wages to rise, food poverty and dire housing tackled, and, for once in our lives, we don’t want the rich to profit from a crisis — we want them to pay for it instead.”

It is all about a fair distribution of work and pay or remuneration according to work and a fair taxation both on work income and on the income of all companies and partnerships.

 

Photo by Pok Rie on Pexels.com

The energy prices rising like mad we should stop, avoiding to see poverty in our regions like we haven’t seen in generations. Politicians should be very careful how long they want to stretch it and would keep discussing endlessly, putting their agenda above the good of the public. People will soon be fed up with their inaction.

It is no longer acceptable for ordinary citizens to have to pay for the current problems that are actually caused by greedy companies that use the war in Ukraine as a pretext for increasing their prices and thus their profits without interference.

We may say there is a general tendency in the whole of Europe:

“We want energy bills capped, wages to rise, food poverty and dire housing tackled, and, for once in our lives, we don’t want the rich to profit from a crisis — we want them to pay for it instead.”

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Preceding

EU well placed to protect and enhance citizens’ living standards while pursuing an ambitious transition to an environmentally sustainable economy

Welfare state and Poverty in Flanders #8 Work

Welfare state and Poverty in Flanders #9 Consumption

US poverty worse than previous recessions

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Additional reading

  1. Politicians being out of touch, their lack of empathy a danger for the near future
  2. Germany blocks Nord Stream 2 pipe from Russia
  3. Rising prices in Great Britain and help from the government
  4. The pain of soaring prices and falling wages is avoidable – and unacceptable
  5. Rishi Sunak warns Britons to brace for even higher energy costs in autumn
  6. Mix of strong demand and limited supply igniting inflation
  7. Key element to the Ukrainian-Russian conflict
  8. January 31 – February 4 by the eyes of the Telegraph
  9. The week of February the 16th 2022 by The Telegraph
  10. Is the climate crisis truly serious? What actions can we take?
  11. Screws turned on Vladimir Putin & Russian oil and gas industry
  12. The Big Question: What was life like in Britain the last time inflation was so high?
  13. G7 agreed to ban or phase out Russian oil and gas imports
  14. Everywhere in Europe the same
  15. Thousands march in London over cost of living crisis
  16. The Guardian’s view on the world 2nd week of June
  17. Bloomberg looking at the Balance of power June 20 – June 22
  18. Bloomberg looking at our planet 2nd half of June
  19. 2022 First half of July – Here’s what else you need to know in Green
  20. The Guardian Headlines for 2022 July 11 -July 17
  21. Our selection from Bloomberg July 18 -July 24
  22. The Independent from 2022 July 25 – July 31
  23. Can turning down our radiators turn up the heat on Putin?
  24. The Big Question: How do British wages compare to inflation?
  25. Balance of power in the first week of August 2022

+++

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About Marcus Ampe

Retired dancer, choreographer, choreologist Founder of the Dance impresario office and archive: Danscontact-Dansarchief plus the Association for Bible scholars, the Lifestyle magazines "Stepping Toes" and "From Guestwriters" and creator of the site "Messiah for all". - Gepensioneerd danser, choreograaf, choreoloog. Stichter van Danscontact-Dansarchief plus van de Vereniging voor Bijbelvorsers, de Lifestyle magazines "Stepping Toes" en "From Guestwriters" en maker van de site "Messiah for all".
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7 Responses to Shall skyrocketing energy prices bring down consumption

  1. In the short run energy consumption will stay high. Only in the long run can people and governments and companies adjust and try to become much more energy efficient. Maybe by then the war will be over in the Ukrain. And gassuply will go back to normal. Prices will go the same way by then. But this is a optimistic scenario. Almost a case of wishful thinking.

    Like

    • Guestspeaker says:

      It can well be several households shall try to diminish their energy consumption, for example by shortening their shower sessions. Some people will also change from cooking on gas to cooking on induction and using the microwave much more for certain recipes.

      Media and governments are making people too much afraid, getting them to fear the situation and thinking they will become poorer. That shall cause them to buy less and to be more careful before they spend their money, endangering the economy, which also could cause some recession.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Marcus Ampe says:

      What is certain is that wars cannot last and that after the end of such a conflict there will be a search for normal relations and trade agreements again. Then the high figures will go down again and the cost of living will regain acceptable standards.

      Before the conflict between Russia, Ukraine and the rest of Europe gets that far, Europe will have to draw a clear line between ‘unacceptable prices’ and do everything in its power to achieve independence from Russia.

      Liked by 1 person

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