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Protests Break Out in Europe As Electricity Prices Soar

Depleted natural gas inventories and low wind speeds have led to a surge in electricity prices across Europe, putting pressure on governments as consumers protest against surging power bills ahead of the winter heating season.  

Electricity prices from the UK to Spain have jumped to all-time highs, people in Spain have taken to the streets, while prices across Europe so high could become a drag on the economic recovery from the pandemic.

In Spain, day-ahead electricity prices surged to a fresh record this week, which is “a huge political problem,” says Javier Blas, Chief Energy Correspondent at Bloomberg News.

Consumers in Spain are protesting against utilities as households now pay around double the price for electricity compared to what they paid at this time last year, the New York Times reports.

Power prices hit this week records in the UK, Germany, and France, too.

In Ireland, typically an exporter of electricity to the UK, a second amber alert “due to a generation shortfall” was issued this week alone. The insufficient electricity supply on Thursday led to the suspension of the Moyle Interconnector, which exports electricity from Northern Ireland to Scotland across the Irish Sea.

In the UK, high natural gas prices and low wind speeds have created a perfect storm for the day-ahead power prices, which hit new records this week.

The UK, as well as the rest of Europe, are bracing for further spikes in power prices when the heating season begins. The natural gas levels in storage in Europe are significantly below normal because of a cold snap in the spring and surging prices of natural gas amid lower shipments from Gazprom and soaring prices for liquefied natural gas (LNG).

For European consumers, energy prices are a pain point, and this year’s surging prices feed into inflation and the cost of goods.

In Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, higher energy prices pushed the annual inflation to a 13-year high in August, as household energy, motor fuels, and food prices jumped. Spain also saw a jump in inflation to the highest in several years due to surging electricity prices.


By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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  • Kost Chu on September 14 2021 said:
    Thank you EU for your wonderful regulation and reforms of the energy sector. For creating the Third Energy Package, extending it to importing pipelines and then giving an exemption to every single non-Russian pipeline. Thanks to the Arbitration Institute of the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce and other European courts for rulings that directly contradict the text of the treaties they ruled on. Thanks to EU, US and other allies for the sanctions against energy exporters that refused to become your puppets. As a citizen of EU I truly appreciate your care and all the benefits it is now bringing us.
  • Steve L on September 12 2021 said:
    The people of Europe are just seeing the tip of the iceberg in terms of electricity prices. As they move further toward renewables and retire fossil fuel plants their power prices will rise, most likely quite dramatically, and their reliability will fall.

    I wonder how people who are just getting by will react to their power bills doubling at first, then going up three or four fold as the real costs of providing storage for intermittent renewables starts to bite. I suspect it will go badly, but will take quite a while to manifest.

    Why can we not have an educated debate on the costs prior to making policy decisions?
  • George Doolittle on September 12 2021 said:
    Long $tsla Tesla Motors
    Strong buy
  • Mamdouh Salameh on September 10 2021 said:
    What lessons can the Europeans draw from soaring electricity prices?

    1- Renewables on their own can’t satisfy their electricity demand because of their intermittent nature.
    2- Energy transition can never succeed without huge contributions of natural gas and nuclear energy.
    3- Europe’s dependence on Russian piped gas supplies will continue to rise whether it likes it or not because of depleting domestic production.
    4- The completion of Nord Stream 2 in this very day is a godsend to Europe.
    5- Rising prices of LNG mean Russian piped gas is the cheapest source of supply for Europe.

    The takeaways for the EU are:
    1- Oil and natural gas and to some extent coal are here to stay.
    2- The EU Secretariat should lower the tone of its environmental preaching to the world and accept that the notion of net-zero emissions is an illusion which will never be achieved by 2050 or 2100 or ever.
    3- If Russia wants to use natural gas as a political weapon, this is the time to do it by reducing its gas shipments to the EU. But Russia won’t do that.
    4- Nord Stream 2 could prove a saviour for Europe bringing an additional 50 billion cubic metres. It is a viable economic project exactly as Russia has been telling the Europeans since the start of the project 12 years ago.
    5- The EU Secretariat should have the courtesy to send a message of congratulations to Gazprom on the completion of the pipeline in this very day.

    Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
    International Oil Economist
    Visiting Professor of Energy Economics at ESCP Europe Business School, London

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