“America First”, “Europe Last”?  |  The echoes

“America First”, “Europe Last”? | The echoes

Posted Dec 1 2022 at 6:22 am

Energy is the sinews of war – of all wars. The economic wars first, even if the Ukrainians will only stand up to the Russians this winter if we help them to warm up. Energy has been the nerve of the great industrial revolutions, it is that of the great movements of reindustrialization. Emmanuel Macron thinks no different when he arrives in the United States with the stated intention of protesting against the IRA (Inflation Reduction Act) and all the energy-related measures that favor industrialists on American territory… Difficult , for European companies, to pay Texas LNG three times more than their local counterparts without castigating “America First”, or even “war profiteers”.

Already, at the end of the first decade of 2000, it was the exploitation of shale gas that enabled America to come back. It was the new fuel for the American dream. Today, the cost of gas and electricity has given it a decisive new competitive advantage: since the start of the war in Ukraine, it has wiped out our fledgling reindustrialization policy. But if gas is an energy of the past, we should know how to compete with the energies of the future, solar and wind. A year ago, we were playing with the hope of recreating a European solar sector, after the attempt of the 1990s and 2000s, nipped in the bud by the invasion of Chinese panels at knockdown prices… and our policies erratic public.

The ace ! In 2022, France will install less solar capacity than in 2021, the sector has revised its objectives downwards. Blame it on inflation and “more recurring regulatory blockages”. The inconsistency in the devices, the inconstancy in the public aid, the delays and the complications in obtaining the authorizations, our old faults weigh us down once again. Meanwhile, Washington subsidizes green kWh and multiplies, upstream, devices to promote solar energy and its storage.

The hydrogen sector is off to a better start

The wind industry is also beginning to worry: the manufacturers of low-cost Chinese blades are pointing their noses and could become dominant in four or five years if we are not careful. The hydrogen sector, it seems to be off to a better start; we are talking about the establishment, in France, of 10 gigafactories dedicated to low-carbon hydrogen: electrolysis, batteries, tanks… But Engie, which will only produce a quarter of its green hydrogen in Europe, already fears that too much regulation strict within the EU does not “kill the market” of green hydrogen while its framework has become extremely favorable to the United States.

Can Europe move up a gear? If our modesty prevents us from proclaiming “Europe First”, let us be lucid enough not to end up in “Europe Last”.

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