Archive for the ‘Europe’ Category
An interesting view and commentary on the Euro-crisis. Premise is that a monitary union without a political union is a critical and flawed governance model and that the tension seen now strains around that concept. Well worth the full read….
“Maastricht’s creation of a monetary union without a political one is now seen as a fundamental flaw of the euro project. A consequent, and almost equally common view is that Mediterranean countries then took advantage of the stability provided by the euro to engage in gross fiscal irresponsibility. But Soros decried the euro’s political deficit as a ‘Third-World’ burden on countries on the eurozone’s economic periphery: heavily indebted, in a currency they can’t control (i.e. devaluate).
The ‘centre’ (read: Germany) deserves quite a bit of blame, Soros said, for “designing a flawed system, enacting flawed treaties, pursuing flawed policies and always doing too little too late”, continuing that “[i]n the 1980’s Latin America suffered a lost decade; a similar fate now awaits Europe.”
Indeed, one of the remarkable constants in Europe’s reaction to the unfolding crisis, at crisis summit after crisis summit, is to do just enough to avert disaster, but nowhere near enough to fix the fundamental flaws of the system. Mainly, snorts Soros, because they don’t understand the system’s flaws. Or is there a hidden agenda? If Germany does just enough to save the euro, but not correct its inherent imbalance, then the European Union will become, in the words of George Soros, “a German empire with the periphery as the hinterland.”
Between total collapse and a German-dominated collection of economically subservient states, Soros sees a third option. He foresees that European autorities (i.e. the German government and the Bundesbank) have a “three months’ window” to correct mistakes and reverse the trend towards disintegration.
But this will require a much larger commitment from the European summit at the end of June than the ‘temporary relief’ offered by previous ones. After the window closes, the gap between market demands and the eurozone’s options will become unbridgeable. The subsequent breakup of the euro could chain-react and cause “a collapse of the Schengen Treaty, the common market, and the European Union itself.”
All of which is both terrible and important, but what – I hear you think  – does this have to do with maps? “
via 568 – Last Chance to See: a Euro-graphy of France | Strange Maps | Big Think.
“Until recently, the development of the smart grid in Europe was largely centered around the integration of the significant amount of large-scale and micro renewable generation that Europe is planning to install. Currently, 10% of Europe’s power is generated from renewable sources, compared to 2.5% in the U.S., and this share is set to reach 20% by 2020.
Utilities throughout Europe are now starting to roll out smart metering as part of a European mandate to have smart meters installed in 80% of European households by 2020. On the basis of ambitious plans announced by utilities and regulators in France, Spain, the U.K. and a gradual rollout in other European member states, GTM Research forecasts an additional 100 million smart meters will be installed between now and the end of 2016. However, so far, most utilities have used advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) more with the objective of reducing operational costs and non-technical losses rather than for empowering consumers through improved access to information about their power consumption.”
“Smart metering rollouts are not only about technology; they are also very much about the process of rollout and the level of engagement achieved with consumers. Denmark’s SEAS-NVE, for example, paid careful attention to this aspect, to the point of training installers in how to talk to customers in their homes. As a result, the utility’s complaint rates dropped significantly and customers now save an average of 16% on their power bills.
Rather than focusing solely on technology, the key to persistent and effective consumer engagement is the provision of clear, timely and detailed information and actionable advice, placed in the context of larger societal objectives. Lowering transaction costs for consumers and strengthening social interaction, norms and values around energy use are key levers for increasing consumer engagement that are largely underutilized by utilities and regulators. ”
via 100 Million Smart Meters to Be Installed in Europe by 2016, but Are End-Users Engaged? : Greentech Media.
Implications of the decision by Germany to shut down its nuclear energy reactors in the light of the nuclear disaster in Fukashima Japan .
“With a total of 133 gigawatts of installed generating capacity in place at the start of this year, “there was really a huge amount of space to shut off nuclear plants,” Harry Lehmann, a director general of the German Federal Environment Agency and one of Germany’s leading policy makers on energy and environment, said of the road map he helped develop. The country needs about 90.5 gigawatts of generating capacity on hand to fill a typical national demand of about 80 gigawatts a day. So the 25 gigawatts that nuclear power contributed would not be missed — at least within its borders.
To be prudent, the plan calls for the creation of 23 gigawatts of gas- and coal-powered plants by 2020. Why? Because renewable plants don’t produce nearly to capacity if the air is calm or the sky is cloudy, and there is currently limited capacity to store or transport electricity, energy experts say.”
via Germany Dims Nuclear Plants, but Hopes to Keep Lights On – NYTimes.com.
The world is integrated economically in so many ways . The public’s shift of focus from last month’s USA debt ceiling crisis is now onto the S&P USA debt downgrading and even further now onto the Eurozone concern over Italy and Spain”s debt and bond yields. There is indeed a high level coordination happening but the limits of that coordination are hopefully not being reached. Timing and tolerances are very fine-tuned. The integrated Global economy is operating under certain structures , ie the global banking system. Undoubtably , a shadow sytem is being conceived and worked upon as the current structure is reaching its governance capacity.
“Mr. Dadush of the Carnegie Endowment acknowledged that it would be a big political undertaking to assemble support for an international bailout of Italy.
“There is no precedent. It would be extraordinarily fraught,” he said by phone from Washington. He said leaders have perhaps four months before borrowing costs for Italy and Spain reach the point where they cannot afford to refinance their debt. World leaders, he said, “cannot stand by and watch the biggest default in history unfold.” ‘
via Central Banks Search for Fixes to Calm the World’s Markets – NYTimes.com.
“A bailout of Italy—on the order of that organized for Greece, Ireland, and Portugal—would require a loan of $1.4 trillion. Bailing out Spain would cost an additional $700 billion. Such sums, representing some 16 percent of eurozone GDP, are unlikely from eurozone members alone, even if the IMF provides one-third of these amounts. Such bailouts would not only strain the frail political support for these exercises to the breaking point, they would also call into question the debt-carrying capacity of the core European countries.
At the same time, given the systemic global implications of a financial collapse in Italy, and possibly Spain, the rest of the G20 could hardly stand idly by as another Lehman-class global credit crunch unfolded.
A globally coordinated bailout—led by the IMF and including bilateral assistance from the United States, Japan, China, the UK, and other countries—would amount to 5 percent of the rest of the G20’s GDP. It would inevitably have to carry far-reaching conditions not only on Italy, along the lines set out above, but also on the rest of the eurozone.”
via Italy: Call in the G20? – Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
First reaction to the event in Norway is the human sadness surrounding it. On the heels comes the seeking of understanding….of who and what is the motive for it. This is going to require a serious examination. In democracies we have a built in tolerance level for difference of thought….how far do we let the pendulum swing where it then threatens to harm the very democratic society that allows the freedom of thought to exist in the first place ? That calls for God given discernment, knowledge, understanding and wisdom.
” “But neither does Norway exist in a vacuum. Its right-wing scene is connected to the rest of Europe through the Internet forums where hate speech proliferates and through right-wing demonstrations that draw an international mix of participants.
“This may be the act of a lone, mad, paranoid individual,” said Hajo Funke, a political scientist at the Free University in Berlin who studies rightist extremism, referring to the right-wing fundamentalist Christian charged in connection with the killings, “but the far-right milieu creates an atmosphere that can lead such people down that path of violence.” “
via Norway Attacks Put Spotlight on Rise of Right-Wing Sentiment in Europe – NYTimes.com.
“European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet urged policy makers to revitalize the vision of an integrated Europe.
“These days, ‘Europe’ and the benefits it brings have come to be taken for granted,” Trichet said in a speech in Brussels last night, according to a text provided by the ECB. “Thanks to the success of European integration, the threat of war has become a memory of the past for many Europeans, in particular the younger generation. This makes it all the more urgent to develop a renewed vision of the kind of Europe we want and indeed need — a vision that is easily understood and shared among European Union citizens.””
via Trichet Urges New Vision for Europe – Bloomberg.
MAjor play by China in global economic / geopolitics.
“For Europe, the rise of China is exacerbating its own decline. Until recently the economic debate turned on whether Europe could keep up with America; now it is whether it can stay ahead of China. “Beyond a certain size, China is disturbing,” says one Eurocrat. It not only threatens Europe’s low-end manufacturers of shoes and textiles but is quickly moving into making cars, trains and, perhaps soon, planes. Yes, the Chinese love BMWs and Gucci bags. But can Europe survive on high-spec and luxury goods—Switzerland on a continental scale?
The EU is surely right to demand reciprocity, but it must be the right sort. Starting a tit-for-tat trade war would leave Europe worse off: consumers would pay higher prices, taxpayers would suffer and firms would lose markets. What Europe needs is more open markets and clearer rules. For China, too, these would be a better buy than dodgy bonds.”
via Charlemagne: Mr China goes shopping | The Economist.
Europe looks like it will become a live laboratory for the some of the biggest questions facing the energy world.
via In Europe, the Great Energy Debate — Renewables or Nuclear — Begins : Greentech Media.