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The hardships of #NordStream-2

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The story of the construction of the Nord Stream-2 largely resembles a fascinating novel, which also has a mystical colouring. It seems that the energy project, which is profitable for the whole of Europe, has been going through various troubles for 4 years and faces numerous obstacles and the story can’t come to its end.  The truth remains that any economic project of Russia in the West inevitably faces serious political problems, which often lead to negative results. It is enough to recall the sad history of South stream, which was literally strangled by the EU due to the notorious contradiction with the 3rd energy package, writes Alex Ivanov, Moscow correspondent.

Nord Stream-2 is a 1,234 km long main gas pipeline under construction from Russia to Germany across the Baltic sea. It is an extension of the Nord stream gas pipeline. The pipeline passes through the exclusive economic zones and territorial waters of five countries: Denmark, Finland, Germany, Russia, and Sweden.

In terms of capacity and length, it is almost identical to the current Nord stream gas pipeline. It differs from it by the entrance point located in the Ust-Luga region on the southern shore of the Gulf of Finland. It also differs in the composition of shareholders.

Along with the construction of the gas pipeline, the onshore gas transmission network is being expanded. In parallel with the existing land extension of the Nord Stream (the OPAL gas pipeline), German companies are building the Eugal gas pipeline to supply gas to the Central European gas hub near the town of Baumgarten (Austria), and on the territory of the Czech Republic with commissioning in 2019 and 2021.

The project directly or indirectly affects the interests of a wide range of countries and enterprises and has sparked debate  in media.

Pipe laying was planned to be completed no later than the fourth quarter of 2019. These plans could not be implemented due to the position of Denmark, which did not give permission for the pipeline to be laid through its exclusive economic zone. In December 2019, the construction of the underwater pipeline, at 93.5% readiness, was suspended due to US sanctions.

In October 2019, a construction permit was obtained in the exclusive economic zone of Denmark - a route extending 147 km to the South-East of Bornholm island was approved. The agreement with Denmark took more than two years. By the time this permit was obtained, all other subsea sections of the pipeline had already been built.

The head of the German Bundestag Committee on energy, Klaus Ernst recently stated that the possibility of applying to the UN is being studied because of US threats to impose sanctions on the Nord Stream-2 gas pipeline.

According to him, it is unacceptable when one country, for example the United States, prescribes to another sovereign country or the sovereign European Union how to solve the issue of its own energy supply. The politician noted that this "contradicts any reasonable relationship."

Ernst also reacted to the statements of the European Commission that if the US imposes sanctions, it will be a violation of international law. "It is a violation to threaten the country's sovereignty in this way," he said.

The politician pointed out that the European Union considers such influence contrary to international law. He admitted that after applying to the UN, Germany can file complaints in the appropriate courts.

Earlier, it became known that Russia expressed solidarity with Germany around the construction of the main export gas pipeline "Nord stream-2" in the face of active opposition from the United States. Russian foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that the project to build the gas pipeline is positively evaluated by all European countries that are facing "unprecedented sanctions pressure from the United States."

The US actively opposes the construction of Nord Stream-2. At the end of last year, sanctions were imposed on all companies involved in the project, after which the Swiss Allseas was forced to withdraw its pipe-laying company from the Baltic sea. In the future, the restrictions were expanded and included in the us defense budget, including insurance companies that cooperate with construction participants.

The situation around the unfinished Russian export gas pipeline "Nord stream-2" is becoming more acute, and the problems are getting bigger. The enemies and friends of the new Russian pipe laid on the bottom of the Baltic sea bypassing Ukraine are constantly raising the stakes. On the one hand, US senators threaten to use sanctions to ruin the German port city of Mukran, where the logistics center of the Pipeline project is based. On the other, Russian foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov assures his German counterpart that Russia will certainly complete the pipeline.

However, so far the construction has not moved from the point where it froze in February, when the Swiss pipe_laying company refused to work under the pressure of US sanctions. Of the two Russian vessels that were bid on, one – "Fortuna "has already been recalled by the tenants, and the second – "Akademik Chersky" has not yet started work for unknown reasons. So until now it is still unclear will Russia be able to bring the remaining 6% of the pipe unfinished to the end? There is no information yet which of vessels the Russian gas concern will use to complete the Nord Stream - 2.

Meanwhile, 24 EU countries opposed US plans to impose new sanctions on Nord Stream-2. Only three refused to share the majority opinion, writes the German newspaper Die Welt, citing sources in European diplomatic circles.

It is noted that the European delegation presented a “note of protest " to the US  Department of State during a video conference on August 12. At what level this was done, and which countries did not join the protest, is not reported.

Although it is not difficult to guess that one of them is Poland, and two more are Baltic. Estonia-exactly. Since it, in the person of its foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu, hastened to immediately declare that US sanctions against the implementation of the Nord Stream-2 project are in its interests.

Among other strong opponents of the Nord Stream-2 is certainly Poland. Some time ago Poland’s anti-monopoly watchdog UOKiK said that it had fined Russian gas titan Gazprom $57 million for “failing to cooperate in its investigation of the Nord Stream-2 pipeline project”. Along with that Warsaw has been a long-time advocate of Ukraine’s desperate efforts to preserve Russian gas export to Europe via its pipeline system. No doubt that Nord Stream-2 will seriously undermine Ukrainian export capabilities.

Despite the difficulties arising around the completion of Nord Stream-2 construction, in Moscow and Gazprom, in particular, are determined to put the project into operation in the next six months. It seems that a very favorable factor for Russia will be almost unanimous support from the EU, which is outraged by the brazen behavior of the United States in trying to prevent the project and at the same time push its expensive liquefied gas to the European market. Many analysts believe that in the near future there will be a denouement in this extremely complicated story.

Electricity interconnectivity

Commission approves prolongation of two Greek electricity measures

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The European Commission has approved, under EU state aid rules, the prolongation for a limited period of two Greek measures, a flexibility mechanism and an interruptability scheme, to support the transition to the new electricity market design. Under the flexibility mechanism, which was initially approved by the Commission on 30 July 2018 (SA 50152), flexible power capacity providers such as gas-fired power plants, flexible hydro plants and demand response operators can obtain a payment for being available to generate electricity or, in the case of demand response operators, for being ready to reduce their electricity consumption.

This flexibility in power capacity will allow the Greek transmission system operator (TSO) to cope with the variability in electricity production and consumption. Under the interruptibility scheme, which was initially approved by the Commission on 07 February 2018 (SA. 48780), Greece compensates large energy consumers for agreeing to be voluntarily disconnected from the network when security of electricity supply is at risk, as happened for example during the gas crisis in the cold winter of December 2016/January 2017.

Greece notified to the Commission its intention to prolong the flexibility mechanism until March 2021, and the interruptibility scheme until September 2021. The Commission assessed the two measures under the Guidelines on state aid for environmental protection and energy 2014-2020.

The Commission found that the prolongation of the two measures is necessary for a limited period of time, in view of the on-going reforms in the Greek electricity market. It also found that the aid is proportionate because the remuneration of beneficiaries is fixed through a competitive auction, and thus avoids overcompensation. On this basis, the Commission approved the measures under EU state aid rules. More information will be available on the Commission's competition website, in the public case register, under the case number SA.56102 and SA.56103.

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China

China: Peak emissions before 2030 and climate neutrality before 2060

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Following the speech made by President Xi Jinping to the United Nations General Assembly on 22nd September 2020, the Energy Transitions Commission has provided the following response: “President Xi’s commitment that China will peak emissions before 2030 and aim for carbon neutrality before 2060 is a huge step forward in the fight against harmful climate change, and a welcome example of responsible global leadership. Strong policies and large investments. especially focused on the clean electrification of the economy, will be needed to achieve the mid-century objective. Analysis by ETC China have given us the confidence that a fully developed rich zero carbon economy is attainable. The priority now is to ensure that actions in the 2020s, and in particular in the 14th five-year plan, achieve rapid progress towards the twin goals.“ Adair Turner, co-chairman, Energy Transitions Commission. 

ETC Reports on China 

In June 2020, the Energy Transitions Commission (ETC) and Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) jointly released the report – Achieving Green Recovery for China: Putting Zero-Carbon Electrification at the Core.

In November 2019, the Energy Transitions Commission (ETC) and Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) jointly released -  China 2050: A Fully Developed Rich Zero-Carbon Economy.

About the Energy Transitions Commission 

The Energy Transitions Commission (ETC) is a global coalition of leaders from across the energy landscape committed to achieving net-zero emissions by mid-century, in line with the Paris climate objective of limiting global warming to well below 2°C and ideally to 1.5°C. Our commissioners come from a range of organizations – energy producers, energy-intensive industries, technology providers, finance players and environmental NGOs – which operate across developed and developing countries and play different roles in the energy transition. This diversity of viewpoints informs our work: our analyses are developed with a systems perspective through extensive exchanges with experts and practitioners.

For further information, please visit the ETC website. 

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Electricity interconnectivity

EPO-IEA study: Rapid rise in battery innovation playing key role in clean energy transition

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  • Electricity storage inventions show annual growth of 14% over past decade, joint study by European Patent Office (EPO) and International Energy Agency (IEA) finds

  • Amount of batteries and other energy storage needs to grow fiftyfold by 2040 to put world on track for climate and sustainable energy goals

  • Electric vehicles now main drivers of battery innovation

  • Advances in rechargeable lithium-ion batteries focus of most new inventions

  • Asian countries have strong lead in global battery technology race

  • Accelerated innovation needed to drive forward Europe’s clean energy transition in order to meet the aim of the European Green Deal

 Improving the capacity to store electricity is playing a key role in the transition to clean energy technologies. Between 2005 and 2018, patenting activity in batteries and other electricity storage technologies grew at an average annual rate of 14% worldwide, four times faster than the average of all technology fields, according to a joint study published today by the European Patent Office (EPO) and the International Energy Agency (IEA).

The report, Innovation in batteries and electricity storage – a global analysis based on patent data, shows that batteries account for nearly 90% of all patenting activity in the area of electricity storage, and that the rise in innovation is chiefly driven by advances in rechargeable lithium-ion batteries used in consumer electronic devices and electric cars. Electric mobility in particular is fostering the development of new lithium-ion chemistries aimed at improving power output, durability, charge/discharge speed and recyclability. Technological progress is also being fuelled by the need to integrate larger quantities of renewable energy such as wind and solar power into electricity networks.

The study also shows that Japan and South Korea have established a strong lead in battery technology globally, and that technical progress and mass production in an increasingly mature industry have led to a significant drop in battery prices in recent years – by nearly 90% since 2010 in the case of Li-ion batteries for electric vehicles, and by around two-thirds over the same period for stationary applications, including electricity grid management.

Developing better and cheaper electricity storage is a major challenge for the future: According to the IEA’s Sustainable Development Scenario, for the world to meet climate and sustainable energy goals, close to 10 000 gigawatt-hours of batteries and other forms of energy storage will be required worldwide by 2040 – 50 times the size of the current market. Effective storage solutions are needed to drive forward Europe’s clean energy transition in order to meet the aim of the European Green Deal: to make the continent climate-neutral by 2050.

Electricity storage technology is critical when it comes to meeting the demand for electric mobility and achieving the shift towards renewable energy that is needed if we are to mitigate climate change,” said EPO President António Campinos. “The rapid and sustained rise in electricity storage innovation shows that inventors and businesses are tackling the challenge of the energy transition. The patent data reveals that while Asia has a strong lead in this strategic industry, the US and Europe can count on a rich innovation ecosystem, including a large number of SMEs and research institutions, to help them stay in the race for the next generation of batteries.”

IEA projections make it clear that energy storage will need to grow exponentially in the coming decades to enable the world to meet international climate and sustainable energy goals. Accelerated innovation will be essential for achieving that growth,” said IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol. “By combining the complementary strengths of the IEA and the EPO, this report sheds new light on today’s innovation trends to help governments and businesses make smart decisions for our energy future.”

Rise of electric vehicles boosting Li-ion innovation

The report, which presents the major trends in electricity storage innovation between 2000 and 2018, measured in terms of international patent families, finds that lithium-ion (Li-ion) technology, dominant in portable electronics and electric vehicles, has fuelled most of the battery innovation since 2005. In 2018, advances in Li-ion cells were responsible for 45% of patenting activity related to battery cells, compared with just 7% for cells based on other chemistries.

In 2011, electric vehicles overtook consumer electronics as the biggest growth driver for Li-ion battery-related (See graph: Number of IPFs related to applications for battery packs). This trend highlights the ongoing work of the automobile industry to decarbonize and develop alternative clean energy technologies. Ensuring batteries in electric vehicles are effective and reliable is crucial to encouraging their take-up by consumers post-2020, after which stricter EU-wide emissions targets will apply to fossil fuel vehicles.

The share of inventions from European countries is relatively modest in all fields of Li-ion technologies, but it is twice as high in emerging fields compared with more established ones, for example generating 11% of inventions in both Lithium iron phosphate (LFP) and Lithium nickel cobalt aluminium oxide (NCA), which are both seen as promising alternatives to current Li-ion chemistries.

Improvements to battery packs for electric cars have also produced positive spill-over effects on stationary applications, including electricity grid management.

The report also shows that patenting activity in the manufacturing of battery cells and cell-related engineering developments has grown threefold over the last decade. These two fields together accounted for nearly half (47%) of all patenting activity related to battery cells in 2018, a clear indication of the maturity of the industry and the strategic importance of developing efficient mass production.

In addition, other storage technologies, such as supercapacitors and redox flow batteries, are also rapidly emerging with the potential to address some of the weaknesses of Li-ion batteries.

Asian companies in the lead

The study shows that Japan has a clear lead in the global race for battery technology, with a 40.9% share of international patent families in battery technology in 2000-2018, followed by South Korea with a 17.4% share, Europe (15.4%), the US (14.5%) and China (6.9%). Asian companies account for nine of the top ten global applicants for patents related to batteries, and for two-thirds of the top 25, which also includes six firms from Europe and two from the US. The top five applicants (Samsung, Panasonic, LG, Toyota and Bosch) together generated over a quarter of all IPFs between 2000 and 2018. In Europe, innovation in electricity storage is dominated by Germany, which alone accounts for more than half of international patent families in battery technologies originating from Europe (See graph: Geographic origins of European IPFs in battery technology, 2000-2018).

While innovation in battery technology is still largely concentrated in a limited group of very large companies, in the US and Europe, smaller companies, universities and public research organizations also play a significant role. For the US, SMEs account for 34.4% and universities/research organizations for 13.8% of IPFs filed. For Europe, the figures are 15.9% and 12.7% respectively, contrasting with Japan (3.4%/3.5%) and the Republic of Korea (4.6%/9.0%).

More information

Read the executive summary

Read the full study

Notes to the editor

About international patent families

The patent analysis in this report is based on the concept of international patent families (IPFs). Each IPF represents a unique invention and includes patent applications filed and published in at least two countries or filed with and published by a regional patent office, as well as published international patent applications. IPFs represent inventions deemed important enough by the inventor to seek protection internationally, and only a relatively small percentage of applications actually meet this threshold. This concept can therefore be used as a sound basis for comparing international innovation activities, as it reduces the biases that may arise when comparing patent applications across different national patent offices.

About the EPO

With nearly 7 000 staff, the European Patent Office (EPO) is one of the largest public service institutions in Europe. Headquartered in Munich with offices in Berlin, Brussels, The Hague and Vienna, the EPO was founded with the aim of strengthening co-operation on patents in Europe. Through the EPO's centralised patent granting procedure, inventors are able to obtain high-quality patent protection in up to 44 countries, covering a market of some 700 million people. The EPO is also the world's leading authority in patent information and patent searching.

About the International Energy Agency
The International Energy Agency (IEA) is at the heart of global dialogue on energy, providing authoritative analysis, data, policy recommendations, and real-world solutions to help countries bring about secure and sustainable energy for all. Taking an all-fuels, all-technologies approach, the IEA advocates policies that enhance the reliability, affordability and sustainability of energy. The IEA is supporting clean energy transitions all over the world in order to help achieve global sustainability goals.

Media contacts European Patent Office

Luis Berenguer Giménez

Principal Director Communication / Spokesperson

Tel.: +49 89 2399 1203
[email protected]

 

 

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