Meeting Russia Blog

Energy Сrisis: The Struggle for Scarce Resources

December 16, 2022
Author - Ulrike Reisner, political scientist, Vienna, Austria. Original publication on

Climate change and the Ukraine conflict are being used as a pretext to declare a state of energy emergency in the European Union. This time, Europe is paying with inflation, recession, creeping expropriation and impoverishment. However, it is more about securing the energy needs of the technostructure [1] so that it can further develop its instruments of domination.

The World Climate Conference in Sharm-al-Sheikh has come to an end, and the outcome is hardly surprising. Leading EU politicians express disappointment that oil and gas will still be allowed to be extracted. They are also upset that China wants to continue to be treated as an emerging economy. The country ranks first in climate-damaging emissions, but wants to retain its "development status". What was agreed upon is the creation of a joint support fund to compensate for climate damage in poorer countries. Those states that are considered "developed" according to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, first and foremost the USA, Canada, Australia and the EU, are to pay. We know who will pay into this pot and who will not.

[1] The term "technostructure" is used here as an umbrella term for non-state economic and financial actors that operate globally.


Digitalisation eats up energy

The G20 is responsible for 80% of global energy consumption, China alone for a quarter. Yet total energy consumption - measured in megatonnes of oil equivalent - in Europe has remained almost the same since 1990 (1.780; 2021: 1.787). In Asia, on the other hand, energy consumption has tripled in the same period!

In terms of electricity, China is the undisputed leader with 7.714 TWh (2021). This is all the more remarkable because China wants to secure its electricity self-sufficiency with coal-fired power plants - this country accounts for more than half of global coal consumption. In second place in electricity consumption is the USA (3.869 TWh), which in turn is the world's largest consumer of natural gas and oil (862 bcm and 700 bcm respectively). The International Energy Agency predicts that global energy demand will increase by another quarter by 2045.

It is estimated that 10 % of the world's electricity consumption already goes into the production and operation of digital devices. For the use of digital devices alone, consumption is expected to increase by 50 to 80 % by 2030. According to a recent study by the Robert Bosch Foundation, the energy consumption of Alphabet and Meta has roughly tripled in the past five years. In addition, there is the steadily growing energy demand for data centres, the backbone of digitalisation. According to a study by the European Commission, the energy consumption of data centres increased from 53.9 TWh/year to 76.8 TWh/year between 2010 and 2018. By 2025, average estimates suggest that energy consumption will increase by a further 25% to 92.6 TWh/year.

Technostructure struggles for scarce resources

However, it is the high-performance computers that are really hungry for energy. These have left the research labs behind and are now supporting businesses worldwide. Forecasts estimate the market growth potential from $36.0 bn in 2022 to $49.9 bn in 2027, with an average annual growth rate of 6.7 %. Power comes at a price: a typical supercomputer consumes on average between 1 and 10 megawatts for power and cooling, equivalent to the electricity needs of nearly 10,000 households. Currently the most powerful supercomputer, Japan's Fugaku, consumes app. 30 megawatts per day, as much electricity as 175,000 conventional desktop computers, and requires enormous amounts of water for cooling.

According to the statistics of the International Energy Agency, the world's largest consumer of electricity is industry (41.9%). The picture is similar for gas (IEA World Energy Balances 2021 (data of 2019)). In a scenario for 2014 - based on current consumption data - total global energy consumption is assumed to be 515,848 petajoules. Almost 60% of this is accounted for by industry and transport. The World Development Agency (UNIDO) estimates that industry is responsible for more than one-third of global primary energy consumption and energy-related carbon dioxide emissions and will require 1.8% to 3.1% more energy annually over the next 25 years.

Politics of obedience

Consequently, it is of little use if only some of the states commit to protective measures. It is of no use if the states do not at the same time commit themselves to enforcing worldwide regulatory interventions in the "energy acquisition" of the technostructure.

The European states, for their part, would be strong enough together to put a stop to the hustle and bustle of the technostructure. The corporations of the technostructure know this, which is why they enter into a quasi-parasitic relationship with states such as the USA (or even Ukraine).

It is the technostructure that misuses the states and their structures to assert its own hegemonic claims to power. The economic war against Europe is a war of the technostructure, waged by means of the United States. As long as the European states do not fight back, this will continue.

The consequences of this European "policy of obedience" are further national debt, inflation, economic recession, impoverishment and a further increasing dependence on the technostructure and the states protecting it.

What can European states do to extricate themselves from this predicament?

a) The states must immediately shift down a few gears in this so-called "climate and energy crisis". They must ensure that their national, location-based economies and industries can continue to operate with the technologies and energy sources currently available until a global agreement on resource consumption - especially with the technostructure - can be reached.

b) The economic sanctions against Russia and against Iran must be stopped.

c) The process of de-industrialisation must be interrupted so that the states of Europe become (again) self-sufficient in "energy acquisition" and remain viable.

d) Research and development presupposes a functioning industry and economy. Therefore, the necessary technology and energy transition can only be managed if the de-industrialisation in Europe is stopped.

e) This means that some taboos must be broken in the states (including France and Germany in particular). Resources must be cut that have little or no effect - for example, in over-bureaucratisation or in social structures that have little impact.

The European states must regain their sovereignty so that a survival of these states with their societies is possible! If this does not happen, we will soon see the disintegration of these states. Corrupt elites, bad governance, failed economic development concepts are the harbingers. Inflation, recession and migration are the accelerators. A massive loss of wealth, unrest and a long-lasting economic crisis will be the result.
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