‘We’ve saved Europe’ – UK wind blows Putin plans sky high

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Margaret Thatcher discusses Vladimir Putin in 2000

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Instead of rocketing this winter, natural gas prices across Europe and the UK have plunged by almost 80 percent since August, when panic set in.

Gas prices have now fallen to levels last seen before Putin launched his cruel and reckless war in Ukraine.

The evil dictator was banking on the EU giving up on Ukraine as winter gas shortages triggered power cuts across the continent, provoked social unrest and threatened to destroy German industrial output.

Yet his plan has been smashed by the mild winter in Europe, and increasingly warn weather conditions in the US and Asia as well.

This has slashed demand for energy and allowed Europe to top up its storage tanks. It means the energy crisis is drawing to a close.

Europe has also had a secret weapon in the shape of British offshore wind power.

Last autumn, Europe was terrified of a so-called Dunkelflaute. This German compound word means “dark doldrums,” and energy experts use it to refer to a period that is cloudy, cold, and windless.

When that happens, wind turbines fail to turn and no energy is created. It was a real fear into in the run-up to winter, but now we have exactly the opposite weather conditions, according to Daily Telegraph commentator Ambrose Evans-Pritchard.

British “wind power has come roaring back” thanks to what he calls a “reverse Dunkelflaute”. “Wind in the UK reached a fresh record of 20.9 gigawatts on December 30, and it alone has generated 49 percent of this country’s total electricity over the last week.”

British wind is an underestimated force, and its might is steadily growing. “Zero-carbon power briefly hit 88 percent of the UK’s grid supply last Wednesday, which displaces gas megawatt for megawatt.”

Evans-Pritchard added: “As a result, Europe has been able to refill its gas storage at times even in mid-winter. Levels are at 91 percent in Germany, 89 percent in Belgium, 82 percent in France and 81 percent in Italy.”

It is a huge blow for Putin who calculated that the winter might come to his rescue again, just as it did when Napoleon invaded in 1812 and Germany in 1941.

Not this time.

Evans-Pritchard says natural gas futures prices have fallen for next winter as well, and for the winter after that. 

“The market is no longer pricing in a protracted supply crisis caused by the cut-off in Russian gas. The world has adapted remarkably well to Vladimir Putin’s energy war.”

He quotes Martijn Rats from Morgan Stanley who estimates that gas storage levels could still be above 50 percent at the end of the winter season in late March, well above the 32 percent total seen in a typical year.

Gas prices are now at pre-invasion levels having fallen below €70 per megawatt hour.

British wind has played a key role, as our coastline is increasingly dotted with offshore power plants generating huge amounts of electricity.

This may soon be reflected in our household bills, with the average household energy bill expected to fall to around £2,700 in April. That is below the anticipated £3,000 energy cap to be introduced that month.

This will save Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s government tens of billions, putting paid to “scandalously wrong” reports that the Energy Price Guarantee would cost the Treasury a staggering £150billion, Evans-Pritchard says.

This could be a real boost for the UK economy and should ease the cost of living crisis and Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s painful austerity plans.

HSBC reckons UK inflation will be down to 4.5 percent towards the end of this year, helping to break the price-wage spiral and calm today’s labour unrest.

Evans-Pritchard said recent alarmism has been overdone and there are now grounds for optimism. “Putin’s capacity for energy blackmail is greatly devalued, and he is running out of missiles to murder Ukrainians.”

Things might just be getting better, and zero carbon renewable British wind power will have played its part.

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