ORIGINAL REPORTING: The Ukraine War’s Threat To U.S. Climate Efforts
California Awaits European Union Actions on Russian Natural Gas Dependency
Herman K. Trabish, April 14, 2022 (California Current)
Editor’s note: Sadly, this report from from months ago was prophetic.
The Ukraine war could impact California’s progress toward its economy-wide net zero emissions by 2045 goal. California policymakers and utilities are committed to the mid-century goal, but the global energy market shift in support of Europe’s escape from Russian natural gas dependence could be an obstacle, but state regulators and planners are not accounting for the natural gas market’s structural change, Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technologies Executive Director V. John White told Current.
The world is seeing “a significant increase” in the use of fossil fuels for power generation and both Europe and Asia are “desperate for reliable sources of natural gas,” said Patricia Kakridas, spokesperson for Sempra, the San Diego-based parent of subsidiary SoCalGas, the biggest regulated U.S. natural gas utility. Sempra is planning to provide Europe with “abundant supplies” by 2030, she said.
Market data shows skyrocketing demand for liquified natural gas processed at U.S. terminals and transported by tanker to meet European needs. A BP-chartered LNG tanker headed for Asia captured the moment’s intensity by U-turning in the Pacific on April 1 and paying a second $1 million Panama Canal toll to get its cargo to Europe, according to shipping market watchers.
An estimated two-thirds of all U.S. LNG cargoes are now headed for EU regasification terminals, and “every molecule that can escape this country as LNG is being exported,” Florida Municipal Power Agency General Manager and CEO Jacob Williams told this reporter. Though that may increase prices and prevent emissions reductions, U.S. fossil fuels “can take money out of Putin’s hands,” he said.
Sempra subsidiary Sempra Infrastructure Gulf and Pacific coast LNG export terminals and the U.S.’s abundant U.S. natural gas can play a “critical role” in meeting new LNG commitments to Europe, Kakridas agreed. And with increased natural gas production and new infrastructure to export it, “the U.S. can keep prices low here at home while also helping our allies,” she said.
Europe can reduce Russian natural gas imports by two-thirds through accelerated deployment of renewables and energy efficiency, and expanded building electrification, a March 23 analysis by independent European researchers found. But to avoid longer-term worsening of the climate crisis, EU leaders must avoid new infrastructure investments to deliver LNG, the researchers said. Accelerated clean energy investments and tapping into spare capacity in Europe’s existing infrastructure can meet the need, said analysis co-author and Regulatory Assistance Project Senior Advisor Bram Claeys. That is critical because new LNG import terminals or natural gas pipelines would keep fossil fuel generation online for decades, he added… click here for more