One of the conundrums of EU membership for the UK has been the mass influx of people from the continent since 1993, but especially from 1998-onward. Some 8-million immigrants now call the UK home — of which 3.3-million are EU citizens who’ve come to the UK to work or study.
When you suddenly dump 8-million people (or even 3.3-million Europeans) into a country it puts an unprecedented strain on the country’s housing market. Indeed, since 1993 property prices in the UK have become some of the highest priced property on the planet sometimes pushing UK homebuyers aside and into high-priced rental accommodations.
Although these mass migrations began in 1993 when the UK joined the EU (bereft of any referendum) the population of the UK had been holding near 57.7-million with almost no annual growth in the UK population. In recent weeks the population of the UK has surpassed 66-million. It’s easy to see from this calculation that the UK-born population only increased by 1-million from 1993-2018, while the balance of the country’s population increase (8-million) occurred as a result of immigration.
Therefore, is it any wonder that house prices are expected to fall once Brexit occurs and the UK government is again in charge of how many immigrants it lets into the country? Certainly the demand for housing and services will fall to equilibrium levels as supply once again approximates demand.
Is it Possible to Determine Housing Policy Before Immigration Policy is Decided?
In a word, no.
As long as unrestricted immigration continues, any housing policy is doomed to fail no matter how well-intentioned. When numbers of immigrants rise or fall by the hundreds of thousands per year, trying to fine-tune the UK’s housing policy is impossible.
The same holds true during the 2-year Brexit implementation period. Immigrants living in the UK may decide to return to their countries of origin at a rate the UK government won’t know about until well after it has occurred.
Assuming the government places a cap on immigration (of say, 200,000 per year) during the 2-year implementation period it still leaves the variable of how many immigrants will leave the UK, post-Brexit.
As you’ve correctly deduced from reading the above, TWO VARIABLES have been at play in the UK’s housing/immigration market since 1993. No wonder there’s been chaos!
Post-Brexit, there will only be one variable — and that one variable could still become a large factor in this equation — which is why immigration levels should continue to remain high to level-out the expected crash in housing demand that will negatively impact house prices and rental rates.
In short, the UK government’s approach must be one of helping to stabilize the UK housing market by maintaining high-ish immigration levels for up to 5-years following Brexit, otherwise demand will crash and property values will fall precipitously and trigger a mini-recession in the UK.
What is the Best Rate to Taper UK Immigration?
Last year, the UK allowed over 300,000 immigrants into the UK (great for UK businesses that depend on cheap labour) but it puts severe demand on housing, leading to vastly overinflated house prices.
Were the UK to drop immigration down to zero in 2019 and 2020, not only would demand for new housing crash, it could happen that large numbers of immigrants may leave the UK. How many? No one could say. It could be thousands, it could be hundreds of thousands, it could be millions.
How can you create a housing policy when your assumptions may be off by millions of people? You can’t.
Therefore, whatever changes there are to be in UK housing policy for the next 5-years, it will be best that the government make only incremental adjustments to immigration numbers, net immigration numbers, and in housing policy — that strongly adhere to whatever housing market situation develops, as it develops.
Allowing housing prices to drop precipitously (even while recognizing those prices are at present vastly overvalued and must eventually return to reasonable levels) could wreak havoc with the UK housing market, with people’s lives, and with the UK economy. It’s the only time where policy must follow an evolving situation instead of leading it.
This scenario will allow immigration levels to be tailored toward a gentle and ongoing reduction in the outrageous housing prices in the UK’s major cities to something approximating a normal housing market.
Recent reports about immigration in Europe suggest a real macroeconomic benefit to welcoming millions of refugees and economic migrants into the country
And that’s true. Even poverty-stricken refugees consume goods and services.
If we look at the German example; One million Middle Eastern refugees have been accepted into Germany since 2010 and all of them eat food, pay rent, pay electricity bills, take the bus, buy clothing, go to movies — and in many other ways add revenue to the economy.
If each of those million refugees spend 10 euros per day (equal to their daily food spending) that’s 10 million euros per day. Totalled, their monthly food spend equals 300 million euros in Germany alone.
If we extrapolate the German example further, we see that almost everything in Germany has a sales tax attached to it, and for those that have become employed, they’re paying income tax on their earnings.
Therefore, Germany is earning nearly 1 billion euros per day from their 1 million refugees
Of course, there are the high costs of accepting refugees and some may remain on social welfare programmes for as long as 2 years. German taxpayers pay for that. But after the 2-year mark, it’s all good.
No wonder Chancellor Merkel looks at immigration with such optimism. From an economic standpoint Merkel is 100% right; It really is the best thing for Germany. A brilliant but domestically unpopular policy by one of the greatest Chancellors in German history.
And let’s also recognize that this latest wave of immigrants is additional to the existing German immigrant pool — the first wave of which began in the 1970’s, and that generation are now a cohort of decent, hardworking, and family-oriented people. A benefit to the German economy almost every day since they arrived.
It’s not all Apple strudel and yodeling in Germany, however
Crime is much higher due to those massive levels of immigration. In Germany, girls can’t even attend a women’s music festival without a high probability of being molested by immigrant men. And the same holds true throughout Europe, especially in Sweden (of all places) and in Greece.
So what’s the point? Gain more in taxes so that women must hide in their homes?
That’s a bad deal for half the population, the female half.
Thus far, the lack of leadership on what is expected of new arrivals to Europe is astonishing and breathtaking all at once.
Refugees and economic immigrants from Day 1 of their arrival in Europe, should’ve been handed water bottles and pamphlets (written in their language) describing the rules of European culture, the rights of the person in EU society, the culture of respect for law and order — and not a gloss-over job but a poignant list of laws and societal norms that must be adhered to while travelling or living in Europe.
And printed in bold letters front and back of the pamphlets:
“It’s not your *right* to emigrate to our countries, it’s a *privilege* therefore consider yourselves guests while in our countries.”
Would you allow a guest to your home to wear muddy boots and to walk all over your expensive carpets and furniture? Obviously not.
Then neither should you allow your guests to molest your girls, rob subway passengers, and engage in rioting and looting.
Nor should we allow immigrants (or anyone) to defile EU culture — culture being the mass of our thoughts, brought into the light.
“I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet.” — Mahatma Gandhi
It’s a very human thing to help people experiencing hardship and fleeing from countries due to conflict or famine there. The fact that we still do this (although not as well as in prior decades) gives hope for humanity.
But it’s been bungled up til now in the EU and it needs to be fixed. ASAP.
Finally, refugees should be given a temporary landed immigrant card (a photo ID) that allows them to stay in the EU for up to 4 years
After that; ‘It’s time to go back home and rebuild your country, with the skills, money and experiences you’ve acquired during your time in the West.’
European countries should now, even at this late stage, attempt to:
1) Educate refugees/economic migrants about European legal and cultural standards, from Day 1 of their arrival. 2) Continue to provide the normal social benefit for each adult, until they find a job. 3) Continue to provide safe housing until reasonable accommodation can be found. 4) Continue to monitor those people to make sure they are finding services, housing, jobs, and are not being targeted by Middle Eastern ‘mafia’ types within their own community. 5) Provide a free airline ticket at the 4-year mark to allow them to return to their home country. If they don’t want to return to Syria (for example) they could exchange their ticket for another of similar value (to Cairo, for example) 6) By accepting and paying for the living expenses of refugees and economic migrants (where they don’t have their own funds) for four years, and by educating them to Western norms, and by helping them to find safe shelter and jobs, etc. it’s truly a privilege for those people to be in Europe, and they should conduct themselves accordingly. 7) If not, they should be deported as soon as they are convicted of any crime (and obviously, their 4-year pass cancelled)
Every day, we teach others how to treat us
If we teach others that it’s acceptable to walk into our homes wearing their muddy boots and to walk all over the carpets and furniture, we deserve everything that we get from those people.
If we (gently) teach them about the rules of our house and provide the support they need, we are teaching them that we’re their benefactors and that we’re people to be respected.
Thus far, we’ve been teaching the refugees the wrong things, and they’ve responded in kind. (Input = Output)
It’s a failure of vision and it’s a failure of leadership. And the experiment with mass immigration flows from the Middle East will end in the failure of some EU member nations.
We’ve already seen blowback from this mishandled affair via the Swiss voting in a 2014 referendum to leave the EU, and Brexit in 2016, with surely more exits to follow.
It’s a problem that won’t go away until EU leaders address the fundamental problems of mass migration, problems which (in the absence of proper guidance) begin on Day 1 of a refugee’s arrival.
Ford of Europe CEO Jim Farley believes evermore costly emission control technology could eventually make cars unaffordable for most consumers
Vehicle emission regulators in Europe “need to consider affordability, or risk creating an elitist industry where cars are only attainable by the wealthy.” — Farley told the Financial Times
The obvious conclusion to draw from Ford’s position is that FUELS must become several orders of magnitude cleaner. And with today’s technology, that is entirely possible.
(1)In South Africa, SASOL has been taking the dirtiest grade of coal (brown coal) and turning it into one of the cleanest burning fuels on the planet since 1950.
Cars in South Africa only require minimal emission controls due to the extremely clean burning petrol which has a minimum blend of 30% CTL fuel (Coal-to-Liquids)
During hot summer days with their higher pollution levels (from coal-fired power plants, from marine shipping and from rail) SASOL simply increases the CTL percentage in its fuel — neatly countering the air quality problem in South African cities.
It should be said that CTL blended fuel is easier on petrol powered engines than conventional petrol.
(2) Brazil uses biofuel sourced from sugar cane and now that they are collecting the bagasse (stems, leaves, roots) of the sugar cane, instead of burning it in the fields, it is a quantum leap forward for the environment.
Ethanol from sugar cane dramatically lowers CO2 tailpipe emissions compared to conventional petrol, and the next growing season ‘eats’ every bit of the CO2 that was produced and then comes out of those Brazilian tailpipes. (Two crops per year in Brazil, growing plants eat a lot of CO2)
It parallels the normal CO2 recycling of Earth ecosystems.
Again it is the case that ethanol blended fuel from sugarcane is easier on petrol powered engines than conventional petrol.
Yet again! It is the case that biofuel fuel blends are easier on petrol powered engines than conventional petrol.
Until all cars are electric vehicles (or in later decades when Hydrogen fuelled vehicles become economically viable) all of our effort should be going into making fuels cleaner and dropping some emission controls for petrol cars — except for the obvious, like Crankcase Ventilation (CCV) and those that serve to lower emissions during engine warm-up.
Petrol powered cars are here to stay whether some like it or not. But we need to put the focus on making vehicle fuels cleaner as we’ve long ago reached the point of diminishing returns on vehicle emission controls.
The following are electric cars that are for sale today in the US or are supposed to be for sale at some point in 2015.
The first prices listed are base prices before the federal tax credit, and in parenthesis are prices after the federal tax credit (normally $7,500, but often less than that if the cars aren’t 100% electric cars).
Other tax credits and rebates potentially available in your city or state (such as the $2,500 California EV rebate or $5,000 Georgia EV tax credit) are not included.
Range and MPGe/MPG data come from the EPA.
Check these electric cars out and go test drive some this weekend!
The BMW i3 is BMW’s first 100%-electric car built electric from the ground up. It is part of BMW’s “born electric” i series. It’s price puts it somewhat in the middle of the Nissan Leaf and the Tesla Model S.
Despite looking a bit bulky, the BMW i3 is the lightest electric car on the market, thanks to its carbon fiber body. It’s a smooth & sweet drive. Compared to BMW’s overall sales, the i3 is selling very well, making it clear that BMW is one of the auto-manufacturing pioneers in the electric vehicle space. Read my full BMW i3 review here.
Chevy Spark EV
The Chevy Spark EV is a low-priced 100%-electric car that has gotten good reviews (compared to its gasoline cousin, that is) but is only available in a few markets. The Chevy Spark EV was the first car on the market that could use the SAE Combo Fast Charging system.
Ford Focus Electric
The Ford Focus Electric is Ford’s only 100%-electric car has long been overpriced and simply unable to compete with competitors like the Nissan Leaf. It has long been priced considerably higher than the Nissan Leaf — which is also more widely available — but Ford finally knocked the price down by several thousand dollars in recent months… but with very little broadcasting of the price drop. Needless to say, it still isn’t selling nearly as well as the Leaf.
The Fiat 500e has gotten great reviews. However, the head of Fiat apparently hates electric cars (I know, crazy) and is only producing the 500e in extremely limited quantities for a couple of states (basically, because it has to in order to sell cars in California).
Hopefully the cute electric car will someday soon be available to a broader market. With its relatively low price, good reviews, and cool styling, it could give some of the top-selling electric cars on the market a run for their market.
Kia Soul EV
The Kia Soul EV is a snazzy electric vehicle with a bit more space on the inside than the average car, and a clear youngster appeal. With good specs and a decent price, the Soul EV could sell well… if Kia really tries to sell it.
Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric
The Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric is an extremely close competitor to the BMW i3, and is a first-offering from Mercedes in this department. It has Tesla’s interior, and reviewers have been split between it and the BMW i3, with some preferring the i3 and some preferring the B-Class Electric. One of my friends recently bought the B-Class Electric and reviewed it for us here.
The Mitsubishi i (aka Mitsubishi i-MiEV) is one of the most basic electric cars on the market, but also one of the cheapest. As noted below, the Citröen C-Zero, Peugeot iOn, and Mitsubishi i all have essentially the same design but serve different markets.
The Nissan Leaf is seemingly the most competitive electric car on the market. It is the world’s best-selling electric car, and sales have only been increasing (thanks to falling prices and word of mouth). After test driving several EVs myself, I have to say that it would be hard to beat the Nissan Leaf for the money… unless you have enough money to dump on a higher-end EV, like the Tesla Model S, Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric, or BMW i3. Read my full Nissan Leaf review here.
The Renault Twizy is a cute and fun little two-seater that comes in at a super affordable price. With just two seats, it’s clearly not a “family car,” but it is a ton of fun to drive and very adequate for most driving needs.
Despite (or because of) its small size, the Twizy was the 10th-best-selling electric car in Europe and 15th-best-selling electric car in the world in 2013.
The smart electric drive could be the cheapest electric car on the US market… if you don’t own or lease it for very long.
However, due to an $80/month battery rental, the price rises to about the same as a 2014 Mitsubishi i within 3 years (note that the Mitsubishi i seats 4, while the smart electric drive seats two). Within about 6 years, the smart electric drive is about the same price as a 5-seat and much more plush Nissan Leaf.
The Tesla Model S is widely regarded as not just the best electric car on the market, but the best car of any type on the mass market (see here, here, here, here, and here for just a few examples).
So, for many people, if they can afford a $70,000–$120,000 car, the Model S is as good as it gets.
This car has flipped the electric car and overall auto world on its head in many respects.
It is a top-selling luxury/performance car, and it was the 2nd- or 3rd-best-selling electric car worldwide in 2013, despite its high price tag. All the while, it was production-limited rather than demand-limited.
The Volkswagen e-Golf is VW’s second electric car, following close behind the VW e-Up! Clearly, it’s an electric version of VW’s extremely popular Golf model.
The e-Golf is one of the closest competitors to the world-leading Nissan LEAF, so it could potentially see very big sales numbers. However, its significantly higher price is certainly keeping sales down a lot, so VW will have to change that if it actually wants to sell this car. Read our VW e-Golf review here.
The BMW i8 is BMW’s second i-series car. It’s one of the most expensive cars on the market — actually, the most expensive on the mass market today.
It comes with a ton of style and great acceleration (0 to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds only trails the Tesla Model S P85D’s 3.2 seconds amongst electric cars). It’s hard not to covet this beauty.
The Cadillac ELR is a high-end, luxury, plug-in hybrid electric car that hit the market at the very end of 2013. In many respects, it is essentially a more luxurious Chevy Volt.
It is pretty. Though, its high price was hard to justify compared to other options on the table, so you can now find the car for a price much below its MSRP… as in, cuts of nearly $30,000.
Chevy Volt Plug-in
The Chevy Volt is one of the most widely acclaimed electric cars on the market. It is the top-selling electric car in the US to date.
In 2013, it was the 2nd-best-selling electric car in the world. Volt owners are known as Voltheads and were “the happiest drivers” in the US for two years running… before the Tesla Model S arrived (as per Consumer Reports owner satisfaction surveys).
Ford C-Max Energi
One of two cars in Ford’s Energi (plug-in hybrid electric vehicle) lineup, the Ford C-Max Energi has quite good specs for someone who doesn’t drive very far on most days but wants to take very long trips fairly regularly. It’s also good for larger families, as it seats up to 5 people. Despite seating 5, it is cheaper than the Chevy Volt… until you factor in the federal tax credit.
The C-Max Energi is also the most efficient plug-in hybrid electric car on the market. As a result of all of this, the car has sold quite well. Despite only being available in the US, the C-Max Energi was the 8th-best-selling electric car in the world in 2013.
Ford Fusion Energi
Quite similar to the Ford C-Max Energi but with a few more bells & whistles, the Ford Fusion Energi has done quite well since its introduction in February 2013.
The Ford Fusion Energi certainly offers some competition to the Chevy Volt, the Toyota Prius Plug-in, and its sister, the C-Max Energi.
Importantly, for some people, it is larger than all three of these competitors. It has a bit less electric range than the Volt, but it has enough seats for five passengers.
(It has much more electric range than the Prius, and the same as the C-Max Energi — both of which seat 5.) And it is quite the looker.
Honda Accord PHEV
Coming in a bit higher in price than the Chevy Volt, Toyota Prius Plug-in, Ford C-Max Energi, and Ford Fusion Energi has certainly hurt the Honda Accord Plug-in‘s sales. However, limited availability has likely had an even stronger impact on those sales.
Furthermore, having just 13 miles of electric range doesn’t particularly excite would-be electric car buyers. The good news is that the Accord Plug-in is very efficient when using the electric motor. But, yeah, this is a compliance car.
Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid
Following the successful Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid (see below), Porsche launched the Cayenne S E-Hybrid at the end of 2014. The Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid can go from 0 to 60 mph in just 5.4 seconds, and has a top speed of 151 mph. I think “wicked” is the word for that.
Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid
The Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid is a plug-in hybrid electric sports car that is everything you’d expect — awesome. It can go from 0 to 60 miles per hour in ~5 seconds.
The Panamera S E-Hybrid now accounts for nearly 10% of all Panamera sales.
Toyota Prius Plug-in
The Toyota Prius Plug-in was either the 2nd- or 3rd-best-selling electric car worldwide in 2013. Unfortunately, its electric range is just 11 miles, then the gas engine kicks in. The Prius PHEV is most likely aided by the strong, high-selling Prius brand.
It mainly competes with the Chevy Volt, Ford C-Max Energi, and Ford Fusion Energi, but it has more seats than the Volt and is almost $10,000 cheaper than the Fusion Energi. So, its closest competitor is probably the Ford C-Max Energi. This seems to be a good place in the EV spectrum, as both cars have been doing quite well. Of course, the C-Max Energi has 10 more miles of electric range, almost double the Prius PHEV’s 11 miles.
Either due to the increasing competition, people simply deciding they want more electric range, or Toyota cutting supply, sales of the Prius Plug-in fell off a lot toward the end of 2014.
Basic Electric Vehicle Information
Electric vehicles (EVs) run on electricity. Some EVs run on 100% electricity, while others (hybrid electric vehicles HEVs) run partly on electricity and partly on some other fuel (e.g., gas or diesel).
Vehicles that can at times run solely on electricity, and can be plugged in to charge their batteries, are called plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs). 100% electric vehicles and PHEVs are clearly much better for the environment (and thus, humans) than their gasoline-powered cousins. Their fuel (electricity) is also much cheaper.
Originally published at EVobsession by Zachary Shahan. This article is posted here with the authour’s permission.
An accelerated switch to renewable energy is the path to EU jobs and prosperity
Europe is on shaky ground. There is even talk in some quarters that the euro, and consequently the EU, may not last a year.
Critics of the European Union are predicting that continued austerity measures, the elections in Greece, petroleum price instability, and Russian moves in Ukraine will conspire to topple the European Union.
Of course, this is a subject of ongoing debate. EU backers say that the present economic morass will end and that the UK and other European nations will join as full European Union members in the coming months, resulting in a unified and complementary union ready to take on the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century.
Success Stories Throughout History
Throughout history, various leaders have ‘risen to the occasion’ to provide visionary leadership — seemingly ‘rising out of nowhere’ to inspire great love among the public for a cause, and on account of their great vision and leadership impossible feats occurred on their watch due to the combined willpower of millions of thereby-inspired people.
People are individuals, and no matter how many individuals there are in a country or in a larger economic union like the EU, at the end of the day every one of them are individuals living inside a larger society. Therefore, leaders must appeal to those things important to their citizens.
In Life; All a person really needs, is a person (or something) to love. If you can’t give them that, give them hope. If you can’t give them that, at least give them something to do.
Leaders who can inspire love for the country through their vision and charisma, have the effect of giving each individual in the country something to love. Or at the very least, give them hope.
Where would the United States have been without FDR?
The New Deal was a series of domestic programs enacted in the United States mainly between 1933 and 1938. They included laws passed by Congress as well as presidential executive orders during the first term (1933–37) of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
The programs were in response to the Great Depression, and focused on what historians call the “3 Rs”: Relief, Recovery, and Reform.
That is Relief for the unemployed and poor; Recovery of the economy to normal levels; and Reform of the financial system to prevent a repeat depression. — Wikipedia
The success of the New Deal is beyond dispute. Without it, the United States would not be half the country that it is today.
Where would Great Britain have been without Winston S. Churchill?
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill was a British politician who was the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1940 to 1945 and again from 1951 to 1955.
Widely regarded as one of the greatest wartime leaders of the 20th century, Churchill was also an officer in the British Army, a historian, a writer (as Winston S. Churchill), and an artist. Churchill is the only British Prime Minister to have won the Nobel Prize in Literature since its inception in 1901, and was the first person to be made an honorary citizen of the United States. — Wikipedia
In between lecturing Hitler and Mussolini via his weekly radio broadcast, Winston Churchill painted a realistic picture of Great Britain for his citizens, and painted another realistic picture for them what life would be like under occupation.
Rather than be cowed by a more powerful aggressor, Churchill inspired his people to valour and sacrifice. And they responded powerfully.
What would our 21st century world have become had Mohandas K. Gandhi not perfected the art of non-violent protest?
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was the preeminent leader of Indian independence movement in British-ruled India. Employing nonviolentcivil disobedience, Gandhi led India to independence and inspired movements for civil rights and freedom across the world. Indians widely describe Gandhi as the father of the nation.
Gandhi famously led Indians in challenging the British-imposed salt tax with the 400 km (250 mi) Dandi Salt March in 1930, and later in calling for the British to Quit India in 1942. He was imprisoned for many years, upon many occasions, in both South Africa and India.
Gandhi attempted to practice nonviolence and truth in all situations, and advocated that others do the same. Gandhi’s vision of a free India was based on religious pluralism.
Imagine if every protest movement since 1947 hadn’t been influenced by Gandhi. Almost certainly, the anti-Viet Nam protests and the civil rights movement in 1960’s America would have led to civil war.
Due to Gandhi’s example, individuals who were part of the anti-war movement or the civil rights movement protested — peacefully for the most part — and to great effect.
John F. Kennedy’s decision to not be cowed by the USSR’s Nikita Khrushchev, led eventually, to the end of the Soviet Union
Had JFK not stood up to Soviet adventurism in Cuba and South America, the geopolitical world would have evolved very differently The USSR would have, in short order, controlled the Western democracies completely.
By utilizing the economic advantage, by ordering a Moon shot, and by not backing down against the communists in Viet Nam, JFK neatly avoided playing the Soviet gameplan — and instead played a gameplan that favoured the strengths of the democratic West.
All of these visionaries gave citizens reason to — love their country, to hope for a better future, to employ their good will and energies — towards solving the almost unsolvable problems of their time. (Love, Hope, Do)
Without that overarching vision promised by their political leaders, without that hope in their hearts, and without some means to express their goodwill and energy, citizens wouldn’t have united in large numbers to solve the near-insurmountable challenges of their time.
Now is the time for visionary EU renewable energy leadership
The case for the EU to adopt a ‘50% renewable energy by 2020’ portfolio and make it an ‘air quality and jobs mission’ for citizens and governments alike:
The vast majority of Europeans want a renewable energy future.
They know that the technological hurdles have been overcome, they know that many Pacific Ocean island nation-states and Indian Ocean islands now run on 100% renewable energy, they know that Norway is powered by 100% renewable energy and that Iceland has surpassed 76% renewable energy use.
They know that Sweden gets 51% of its energy from renewable energy, and that Latvia, Finland, Austria, and Denmark aren’t far behind. They see Estonia, Portugal, and Romania getting more than 25% of their electricity from renewable energy and they see Germany’s Energiewende setting stellar records for renewable energy output every month.
Other nations in Europe have surprisingly advanced renewable energy programs and some EU nations will surpass their renewable energy target before 2020.
Renewable Energy provides massive employment opportunities
And it is becoming apparent that when compared to the fossil fuel industry, the renewable energy industry provides thousands more jobs per million people. Always handy that, a job to go to.
Energy Price Parity and Subsidy Regimes
Not only has some renewable energy approached price parity with conventional energy, in some cases it has surpassed it. Especially when the massive global fossil fuel subsidies that topped $600 billion in 2014 ($550 billion in 2013) are factored in.
Meanwhile, global renewable energy subsidies barely hit $100 billion in 2014, the majority share of it spent in China.
Worried about fossil fuel subsidies? That’s nothing compared to fossil fuel externalities
Fossil fuel subsidies of $600 billion (globally) are one thing. But it now appears that the economic totality of fossil fuel cost to healthcare systems, to livestock health, the agriculture sector, the global climate, regional climate (local drought or flooding) and damage to outdoor concrete and metal structures may now exceed $2 trillion dollars per year.
China reports 410,000 premature deaths per year are due to air pollution. The U.S. admits to 200,000 premature deaths by air pollution and as many as 400,000 premature deaths per year occur in Europe due to our overuse of fossil fuels.
If you add the global rising fossil fuel subsidies of $600 billion to the global externality cost of fossil fuels, it equals approximately $2.6 trillion (globally).
How much renewable energy can we get for $2.6 trillion dollars, please?
It’s not that fossil fuels are intrinsically bad, or evil. It’s not that the people who run those companies are bad, or evil. It’s not the shareholder’s fault either.
It’s just that too many of us are using fossil fuel.
And nobody is forcing us to buy it. If there are reasonable alternatives to fossil fuel overuse, then citizens are making a conscious decision to pollute the air, rather than choose those alternative forms of energy.
But if no alternative exists for citizens to purchase (and yet consumer demand is there) that is primarily the fault of policymakers.
The solution to the fossil fuel subsidy and externality problem in the EU? Renewable energy
With the right vision and the right leadership, getting the EU to a 50% renewable energy minimum standard by 2020 is eminently possible.
There are no technological hurdles that haven’t been solved.
There simply exists no public outcry against renewable energy power plants.
Grid parity (with low subsidy) is now the norm — even against massively subsidized fossil fuel and nuclear power.
And several countries around the world already run on 100% renewable energy. One of them is in Europe. (Norway) So it can be done.
It’s not about; How much will switching to renewable energy cost us?
It’s now about; How much will renewable energy save us?
Each one euro spent on renewable energy installations (actual installations, not more endless research) could save two euros of fossil fuel subsidy and three euros of fossil fuel externality cost — although there is a time lag involved before healthcare systems, ranchers, farmers, and owners of infrastructure see declining costs.
Following the 1/2/3 fossil fuel subsidy and externality equation, we see that if the EU suddenly installed 10 billion euros worth of wind turbines and solar panels (displacing the equivalent amount of fossil electrical generation) the EU would save 20 billion euros of subsidy, and would over 25 years, save 30 billion euros in heathcare costs, costs to livestock health and agriculture, and outdoor concrete and metal infrastructure repair costs.
Spending 10 billion to save 50 billion — for a net save of 40 billion euros over 25 years. Not bad.
Spending 100 billion euros to save 500 billion — for a net save of 400 billion over 25 years, that works too.
So, denizens of Europe, how much fossil fuel electrical power production would you like to replace with renewable energy?
The EU should move to a 50% renewable energy portfolio by 2020 and make it a priority ‘mission’ for citizens and governments alike. An energy ‘New Deal’ for EU citizens
In order to plan for a clean EU energy future, we need to look at where the European Union is today and make a responsible plan, one that displaces fossil fuel electrical power production without placing undue economic hardship on existing electrical power producers.
A ‘can-do’ attitude that doesn’t ignore the many positives associated with an EU-wide 50% renewable energy standard will be required to meet the challenge
The best candidate for an EU-financed switch to renewable energy?
Malta is presently striving to meet its target of 10% of energy demand from renewable sources by 2020. However, Malta could easily convert to 100% renewable energy in as little as 24 months.
Malta is a tiny island nation and other tiny island nations have successfully transitioned to 100% renewable energy — and it took them only a few short months to accomplish that goal.
Malta’s electrical grid produces 571 MW at peak load and uses expensive imported fossil fuels.
Replacing Malta’s fossil fueled electrical grid with a combination of offshore / onshore wind turbines and solar panels is well within our present-day technical capabilities and would save the Malta government millions of dollars per year in fuel and healthcare costs.
A low-interest loan from the EU to cover the capital cost of wind and solar power plants and some basic technical support is what Malta needs. Nothing more complicated than that.
How would replacing Malta’s present electrical power generation with 100% renewable energy benefit the EU and the residents of Malta alike?
It’s a given that all of the wind turbines and solar panels / inverters, etc. would be sourced from the EU. In fact, European sourcing could be a requirement of obtaining the EU financing for the project.
All of the engineering, manufacturing and installation / grid connection would be performed by EU workers.
Malta’s residents and visitors would thereafter enjoy clean air, lower healthcare costs, better quality of life, and could say goodbye to toxic and expensive, imported oil.
From 10% to 100% renewable energy within 24 months — now that would demonstrate political and environmental leadership!
Granted, Malta has the smallest electrical grid in the EU. But it’s a place to start, a place to set a baseline for the learning curve to 100% renewable energy on a per country basis, and a place to test out the actual economic inputs vs. outputs, with minimal investment.
By starting with island nations and converting them to 100% renewable energy, solid standalone renewable energy power generation experience is gained, and once completed, can serve as models for standalone systems on the continent.
To get to 50% renewable energy in other EU states requires similar measures but on a larger scale than Malta. (Low interest loans from the EU, requirement to source all equipment, materials, and labour from EU nations, and some amount of renewable energy expertise)
Some European Union nations wouldn’t need all that much investment to make the step up from their planned 2020 targets. Some will already have attained at least 30% renewable energy, assuming they hit their planned targets. Other nations have small populations, and therefore, wouldn’t need all that much capital to hit the 100% mark, let alone a 50% renewable target by 2020.
The Next Step for the EU
During the darkest days of recession in early 1980’s America, newly-elected President Ronald Reagan didn’t appear and suddenly solve America’s economic problems.
He told Americans (very convincingly) that they had it in their power to solve their own economic problems and arranged some temporary loans to Chrysler and other companies — and cheered by his vision and leadership, they responded powerfully — ending America’s recession.
Someone in the EU needs to step up now, leading the charge to improve EU air quality, to lower the rate of illness and premature deaths due to air pollution, to lower the damage to livestock and agriculture, and to concrete and metal infrastructure — thereby creating tens of thousands of well-paying jobs — by insisting on a minimum of 50% renewable energy standard by 2020 for all EU nations.
And that great, overarching vision in itself, will be the thing that EU residents will love, hope for, and willingly agree to do, for the next five years. Neatly ending the EU’s present recession.
Let’s roll up our sleeves, people. We’ve got work to do.