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Be careful what you wish for

High school soccer practice started this week. Our head coach asked the boys to write their personal and team goals for the season. I challenged them to have goals that are higher and harder to achieve. Easy goals don’t help the individual or the team. I cautioned, “Your goals don’t just impact you they impact others on the team and even people you don’t know.”

In 1999, I asked our seniors where they want to be at the end of the season, BJ, our senior captain and only returning starter said, “Coach, we want to play for the State Title.” This was unrealistic. We had never been to the State Tournament. In the history of the school one section championship was our lone success. BJ’s goal inspired the team. We did play for the State Title. Even though we lost in the championship game the barrier was broken. Future teams knew a State Championship was realistic. BJ’s vision changed the course of our program. Since 1999 we have won 17 regional and 6 State Championships. A dream or a challenging goal can be powerful. Be careful about the goals you set. They can come true.

This week Shale Crescent USA had a video conference with another European organization. They are struggling because of high energy costs and required cuts in their use of natural gas because of reduced Russian gas deliveries. This caused plant closures and reduction of production in other plants. The result was lost jobs. Other European countries have a similar problem based on our discussions with European companies.

When I checked recently, Europeans are paying $55 per MCF of natural gas. In the U.S. natural gas prices have been in the $6-$8 per MCF range. Expensive energy makes it difficult for European companies to compete with the world. Now they are having difficulty getting natural gas at any price. Natural gas isn’t just an energy source it is the feedstock (molecules) needed to make most products. Windmills, solar panels and electric vehicles can’t be manufactured without fossil fuels.

The “Green” movement worked to ban fracking in Europe, preventing development of their shale gas reserves. With support from Russia, they were successful. (The Centre for European Studies found the Russian government had invested $95 million in non-governmental organizations campaigning against shale gas.) Then Russia built Nord Stream 1 across the Baltic Sea to Germany and began selling more natural gas to Europe. Nord Stream 2 is close to completion. Germany shut down their nuclear power plants. Coal plants were shut down. Electricity from weather dependent energy increased. In 2021 wind failed to deliver as expected and now because of the Ukraine War, Russian gas deliveries to Europe are cut. Lack of infrastructure limits LNG deliveries from other countries. Europe is turning back to coal and oil to produce electricity in order to preserve natural gas and refill storage for winter. Both dirtier fuels than natural gas. Russia was getting $10-$15 for their natural gas. Now they are getting $55. Could this huge windfall revenue increase be helping to fund the Ukraine War? Be careful what you wish for you may get it and not like the result.

As a professional engineer I follow the Engineers’ Creed. One of the points is to place service before profit, the honor and standing of the profession before personal advantage, and the public welfare above all other considerations.

Public welfare prompted me to act at a conference in 2021 when three European engineers proposed cutting fertilizer and pesticide use in the EU by 50% to reduce carbon emissions. I asked them, in front of everyone, “What will this mean to food production and cost?” They said the focus was on carbon emissions but admitted it would raise food costs for Europeans and if implemented globally “millions of people would starve.” Europeans now know the truth.

There are individuals and organizations pushing to reduce or eliminate fossil fuels. My expertise is in energy of all types. When people in academia and government talk about energy transition and getting rid of fossil fuels, people’s lives are at stake. As an engineer I’m compelled to speak.

Most people understand not to sell their car or home without having a replacement. People shouldn’t quit a job without having another job to go to. We shouldn’t get rid of fossil fuel energy unless there is a guaranteed replacement that can work 24/7/365. Wind and solar are NOT a replacement for fossil fuels. In extreme heat and cold, people die without electricity. More energy is needed in weather extremes 24/7. Weather dependent energy can’t operate 24/7. Ideas for storage of solar and wind power have been proposed. Engineers have to deal with proven results not theory. At WPC one speaker talked about using more renewables for industrial electricity. The speaker who followed said, “The previous speaker doesn’t realize running a power plant is much more difficult then running Power Point,” Translation, theory is nice but people need real electricity not theory.

Job creation from natural gas in SCUSA is happening. Companies in the SCUSA are expanding. One company spent several million dollars, added 2 more lines and hired people in Jackson County. Lynnda and I passed a new paper products plant south of Columbus. Toilet paper is one of their products. West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania are all seeing growth like Shell, Intel, Nucor Steel and countless smaller companies. Shale Crescent USA is working with companies coming to the region who haven’t announced yet but are hiring local contractors and employees. One big problem is finding workers.

Natural gas works well with renewables. We visited a Maryland dairy farm that was off the grid using solar panels. The farmer said he can run the entire farm on solar panels. I asked, “How do you keep your refrigerators running after dark.” The farmer responded, “My natural gas generators.” Be careful what you wish for!

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Greg Kozera, gkozera@shalecrescentusa.com is the Director of Marketing and Sales for Shale Crescent USA. He is a professional engineer with a Masters in Environmental Engineering and over 40 years’ experience in the energy industry. Greg is a leadership expert, high school soccer coach, professional speaker, author of four books and numerous published articles.

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