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  • South Korea Ditches Renewables, Goes Nuclear // Can Europe Make It Through the Winter? // Sichuan and Chongqing Are Back

South Korea Ditches Renewables, Goes Nuclear // Can Europe Make It Through the Winter? // Sichuan and Chongqing Are Back

South Korea Ditches Renewables, Goes Nuclear

South Korea has made plans to reverse the course of its energy policy. In: natural gas and nuclear. Out: wind and solar.

"Renewable energy should account for 21.5% of generation capacity by the end of the decade, according to a draft of the nation’s long-term power supply plan, down from 30.2% under the previous version, the energy ministry said Tuesday in a statement," reports Bloomberg. "Most of the gap would be met by nuclear while coal and gas are little changed from the prior proposal."

If this draft makes it through government, it marks a sea change for South Korean energy. President Yoon ran on restoring the atom to its rightful place in the SK energy portfolio. He argued clearly and consistently throughout his campaign against renewables as the solution to climate change, contra his predecessor, former president Moon.

Before its finalized, the policy proposal will have to make it through internal government discussion plus parliamentary and public hearings.

Can Europe Make It Through the Winter?

Could the EU actually make it through winter despite thinning Russian gas flows? Maybe so. The bloc is on track to meet its storage goals two months before deadline.

"Reserves in the EU were 79.94% full as of Sunday, according to Gas Infrastructure Europe inventory data," reports Bloomberg. The EU's target is 80% by the first of November. The bloc expanded its storage rules earlier in the year after last winter's storage turned out lower than expected.

“We will meet the goal before the heating season despite very difficult situation on the energy market, Gazprom’s dirty games around Nord Stream 1 and several member states being already completely cut off from Russian supplies,” Jerzy Buzek, senior member of the European Parliament said. “Full gas storages will certainly not solve all our current problems, but they do allow European citizens to feel more secure and confident before the coming winter.”

Will the EU breathe a collective sigh of relief? Lower temperatures moving into fall should make it easier for many countries to continue to plump up their gas storage, providing still greater insulation from any Russian pipeline shenanigans.

"In Poland, reserves were almost 100% full on Aug. 27 while Portugal’s storage was completely full" reports Bloomberg. "Italian storage was filled to 81%, while Hungarian to 62% and Bulgarian to 60%, GIE data showed."

The EU has been relying on coal to spare their gas. A brief tour of fuel substitution provided in the tweet thread below goes a long way toward illustrating this.

Still, electricity prices have continued to soar. France, whose neglected nuclear fleet has been crapping out, worries that unless they ration now they'll face darker problems this winter. Germany still remains highly vulnerable to any substantial stoppages in Russian gas supplies. And if this winter proves colder and longer than expectations, the bloc could face some serious trouble.

Sichuan and Chongqing Are Back

Last week, China's Sichuan province and Chongqing City were restricting industry and residential power consumption to survive a brutal heat wave. This put pressure on various industries, including lithium and polysilicon. Since then, the situation has cooled off.

"China's Sichuan province and Chongqing city have resumed normal power supply for industrial and commercial usage, reported state broadcaster CCTV on Tuesday," reports Reuters.

The heatwave coupled with dought-sapping hydro had put the screws to the region. According to S&P Global, hydro made for nearly 8% of China's energy demand and 15% of its electricity mix--larger than its solar and wind fleet combined. "Hydropower accounts for 85% of Sichuan's generation mix," S&P reports, "and in normal times, the surplus is exported to developed coastal regions like Shanghai, Zhejiang, and Jiangsu with larger population density and energy demand."

Sichuan is home to 84 million people and many factories. Now that the heat has abated, normalcy can return.

"Production of energy-intensive refined metals were suspended," Reuters reports, "impacting about 5,000-6,000 tonnes of lithium salt output, around 10% of China's monthly average of the metal used in the fast-growing electric vehicle market."

Sichuan's rebound should inject stability back into the metals markets. Zinc smelters, lithium processors, and aluminum producers in the region have begun to restart their activities.

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Conversation Starters

  1. BP's Whiting refinery in Indiana looks like it will come back online within the next few days. This is a huge relief. "According to the Department of Transportation and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the incident had affected the supply of gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel across the four states, which prompted the emergency declaration. The four states get a quarter of their fuel supply from the Whiting refinery," reports Oilprice.com.

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Crom's Blessing