Jiří Paroubek – Opinions Aktuálně.cz

I remember my former company director, where I started my career after 1976, who told me wisdom that I had put into practice. And I still remember him.

“The less people know about things, the easier it seems to them to solve them.” And so I find the current situation amicable and hysterical around Russian gas and oil in the European Union. It is said to be (eventually) gently replaced.

Despite the war that is taking place in Ukraine (with the broad support of the material and financial countries of the West), and which should not last long, no one in Russia has turned off the gas or oil taps. Both are transported to Europe under contracts with the Russians.

It is true that the price of oil has increased, but unless the conflict escalates, it may not increase further. The price of gas has also increased. Might be impressed by the news that Western European countries want to fill up their gas tanks for next winter. And for all cases.

I don’t know if that makes sense in a situation where the price of natural gas is very high and likely to rise, but so be it.

Watching TV commentators on Czech television requires a certain toughness and good nerves or, conversely, a healthy dose of ignorance. On Friday night, I saw a poor man on ČT24 who talked about how it is possible to quickly replace natural gas from Russia with hydrogen. And what’s even better with this substitution is that we actually have the “pipes” ready for it. That is, those that are currently used to supply natural gas. How easy…

Hydrogen production is still, to my knowledge, rather at the laboratory stage, and to imagine that it could be replaced by a larger means of supplying natural gas from Russia is a bit fantastic.

Likewise, cutting Russian gas consumption in the EU by a third by the end of the year seems like a slap in the face. How to do? We’re really going to turn off the heat in the malls, where the saleswomen are going to huddle in windshields and wars (I mean next winter). Or we can really import so much American shale gas (LNG) to replace prescribed Russian gas. The problem is that this gas is several times more expensive than Russian gas. And the political elites, both European and Czech, must tell people “nicely”: you will pay much more for gas than you pay so far. And probably several times more. So far no one has been able to send the perfect solution, which is not strange. Apart from abstract considerations of freedom, which are more valuable than cheap Russian gas, there has been no relevant political discussion on the subject.

Putin just has to stop the dumpster. And to pay him as little gasoline and oil as possible so that he lacks money for the war. But Putin seems to have enough money for the war so far and is able to complete the war operation in central and eastern Ukraine within weeks. I would even bet that, for strategic reasons, he is not interested in going to western Ukraine with his troops. And so he will hit this part of Ukraine as much as possible with targeted air or missile strikes, targeting logistics connections, warehouses, etc.

Moreover, someone has to tell us, Europeans and Czechs, that the adoption of American liquefied gas will require the construction of new terminals, which will certainly not be free. They will strongly interfere in national budgets.

The idea that everything will be solved by quickly focusing on renewable energy is, at least in the conditions of our state, somewhat chimerical. And above all, even if we all installed solar panels on our houses or equipped our houses with heat pumps, all with powerful storage batteries, it would still not be enough to meet the growing needs of Czech industry.

Of course, this can help ensure that all new homes built are built passively, i.e. very economical in terms of electricity and heat consumption. And that there is a great opportunity to insulate these existing homes to prevent heat leakage and therefore reduce energy and fuel consumption.

The idea that under our conditions we will be able to use new nuclear reactors in less than twenty years (if at all) and that the electricity produced there, given the high costs expected from the construction of two units of the Dukovany nuclear power plant (about CZK 300 billion), for For twenty years, Czech households and Czech industry have been burdened with expensive electricity. Certainly more expensive energy than that which will be produced in the new Hungarian nuclear power plant, built in cooperation with the Russians. After all, V. Orbán goes there from the forest. He knows that electricity and gas represent an important part of the expenses of the population. And so he agreed with the Kremlin on a long-term gas supply, supposedly at a quarter of the price we pay. This may be Russian propaganda fake news, but I’m afraid it’s more of a reason that will lead V. Orbán to an electoral victory in the upcoming parliamentary elections in Hungary.

Finally, the Hungarian population generally welcomes the fact that Orbán does not want to get involved in the conflict in Ukraine by supplying arms to the Ukrainian army. The Hungarian opposition condemns this, and Orbán therefore calls him a “warrior”. And it seems that the opposition to the war behind the Hungarians is such that Orbán’s Fidesz electoral preferences are hearteningly increasing. We’ll see… Maybe even these polls are tinged (but I don’t really believe that).

It is certainly no secret that the Czech government is exploring ways to increase coal mining in our country. So much fucking coal at once will be good. But of course mining companies have a problem. If the end of coal mining in 2038 has been strongly questioned, it means that mining companies have not invested much in refurbishing their end-of-life technical equipment and technologies, which is understandable.

The Czech government should approach a possible revolutionary change in state energy policy at least as judiciously as the German government, when it is no longer able to take Hungary as an example. I understand that this is outside the mental orbit of the Czech right.

But from the possibilities open to the Czech consumer – the citizen – it is clear that there will be a sharp increase in energy prices – gas, electricity, heat – which will have a strong impact on the basket of Czech household spending. The question is what the Czechs will start saving the most. But the concerns voiced in a recent Median survey by nearly two-thirds of Czechs about the rising cost of living, and therefore falling standard of living, will likely stay with us for several years to come with the unflappable help of the current government.

Jiří Paroubek

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