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Nord Stream Sabotaged, Energiewende Over?

Adam Blazowski

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Chris Keefer  0:00  

Welcome back to Decouple. Today I'm joined by Adam Blazowski. Adam is the co founder of the Polish pragmatic environmentalist group FOTA and Chairman of the Board of replanted. He's a software engineer, manager, author and activist with over 15 years working in energy efficiency, smart cities, renewable energy and advocacy for tech agnostic Decarbonization. I had the pleasure of meeting Adam in person in Berlin last year where Adam was a major organizer of a save the German six rally Adam, you you did a lot to bring Dr. James Hansen there, which was a real highlight of the event brought a lot of publicity brought the interview, on Decouple made that a possibility. It's your veteran of the Decouple podcast. I encourage people to check out your episode, I think from over a year ago now. But welcome back. It's good to have you, man.

Adam Blazowski  0:50  

Hey, hello, and greetings from Poland.

Chris Keefer  0:53  

So Adam, I think we've got a pretty packed program, you know, Decouple does pride itself on being ahead of the the breaking news, we're gonna have an interesting discussion about what just happened to the Nord Stream pipeline, I think pipelines. We really want this episode to be a so called Evergreen episode to have relevance beyond this breaking news. And obviously, there's a lot that remains very unclear. This is a rapidly developing story. You had an amazing Twitter thread that really explored the underlying rationale for building the pipeline in the first place. So I'm very interested in a few of your theories about what exactly happened. But more interested in painting the context. You are, of course, speaking to us from Poland, having that Eastern European context, I think is so important. So Adam, let's let's take it away. First off, what is Nord Stream and what just happened?

Adam Blazowski  1:47  

So what happened is that the both pipelines have almost simultaneous simultaneously experienced the catastrophic depressurization. So, basically, it looks like the both there have been sabotaged. And these pipelines are going from Russia to Germany, for natural gas transportation, that was the original idea. And this is how, why they have been built by private companies, and with big protection from the Russian government and from the German government. That was the original intent to supply gas to Germany. Of course, these pipes were highly, highly controversial, because the two actors, Russia and Germany had two different reasons to build them. And one of them was really, really detrimental to Ukraine. The reason why Russians wanted to build this pipeline was to be able to choke Ukraine, and to bypass Ukraine in the transportation of gas. If you look at the map, Ukraine is on the way for several of of connections. So without Ukraine, Russia cannot supply Hungary, Czech, Germany, and, and other countries, a little bit of Poland too. So the idea for this pipeline was to go directly to Germany, so that Ukraine can be completely squeezed and choked, without risking other customers in Europe. That was the idea from the Russian part from the German part. Of course, Germany wants it to be a hub for gas in Europe. That means they would want it to have really cheap resource, and they want to provide it to everyone else. And while also giving up on coal and nuclear power at home and building a lot of renewables, so that cheap gas can facilitate flexible energy grid, and can keep them competitive. And I think what happened today is really the end of this of the stream of this German Russian dream.

Chris Keefer  4:11  

So Adam, obviously, this is breaking news. We don't have all the information. But I have been seeing some pretty impressive images on Twitter, for example, I believe it's footage from maybe the Norwegian army helicopters, there is a massive amount of gas bubbling up to the surface. They're suggesting, you know, around a kilometer long in some areas, this looks like a pretty massive rupture of the pipeline. You know, again, we want this episode to be evergreen, we're going to be providing a lot of context, but in terms of what we know at the moment, what can we share responsibly with the listeners?

Adam Blazowski  4:48  

Obviously, the pipelines are done for for a long period of time. So it's quite clear that it was sabotaged. And there is Both half the tweeter is blaming Russians. And the other half of Twitter is blaming someone else. So I, I, we obviously we don't know what happened. But we can connect the dots, we can put the dots on the map. And we can ask listeners to try to connect them themselves. So basically, this, pipelines were functioning as a leech, with Germany on the other end, and this leash is broken. For some reason. This leash was really not something strategically important anymore. It was important last year, maybe six months ago, but not that really important anymore for Russian. Because obviously, it's clear that that that there is no going there if the gas would not be flowing, because Germany is really helping Ukraine and Germany is not behaving. So there is no reason to send gas to them. Also another.on This map is that yesterday or sorry, today, a Polish gas pipeline has been opened. So Poland was opposing this, this Nord Stream for for since forever? Because we, the Poland would always say, Yeah, this is not energy, solidarity. We should not have Russia dealing with just one country, we should have to buy energy from Russia together. Wholesale. This is not good for Ukraine, because it's effectively effectively putting them on the whim of Putin. So we Poland was opposing this together with Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Czech Republic, Slovakia, everybody in Central Eastern Europe was pretty much angry about this gas pipeline. But the German government would always say no, no, this is a private business enterprise. And the we are not interfering. There are private companies who just want to do their own business. And it's not a political project. Even Angela Merkel would say that she's guaranteeing Ukraine that they will be okay. And nothing will happen to them. Well, Ukraine is now attacked, the country is being like literally raped by by Russian forces. So this pipeline is no longer providing any anything for the Russians, it's clear it's over, even if put in would be poisoned, or removed. There is no way of going back after what happened is 100,000 people died on both sides. It's a biggest war since 1945 in Europe in this part, so there is no way to go back to normal anymore. So now it is, it is exploded. But there is one more element. On the seventh of February, Joe, Joe Biden promised and he said I promise if you attack Ukraine, it was promised to put in if you attack Ukraine, I will make sure that this project is over. So a lot of people really wanted this pipeline to be down.

Chris Keefer  8:22  

It's interesting, because, you know, this gas relationship between Germany and Russia, it started during the Cold War, it survived, you know, some of the blips along the way, some of the major events of the Cold War. It's endured. But again, what you're I think, reaffirming, and I've had this opinion for many others, is that this austere politic, this relationship, which I think the Germans, you know, we're hoping and the statements I've heard is that this would build peace between the countries it would kill the codependence which would mean that war could never happen again. That that that relationship is indeed over. The trust is broken. It would be foolish, the general public wouldn't accept reconnecting things, but at the same time, I mean, if Germany really is freezing this winter, potentially there were political forces in Germany that were still may be able to plug their noses or pinch their noses and accept a kind of even temporary gas bailout from from Russia. Putin just said, Actually, last week, I believe, turn on Nord Stream two, and you'll get our gas again. Yeah. So this is while I think I'm hearing you say that, you know, doesn't really matter because it's over. A pushing back against that, I guess a little

Adam Blazowski  9:37  

bit. Well, if you can perfectly imagine an opposite situation where strong people in Germany would be making deals with Russian oligarch and say, just remove Putin and we will go back to business as usual and then put in destroying it. Just to burn the bridge and say, yeah, now you stay with me. You have nowhere to go. So You can interpret it anyway. What I don't believe, and I have heard such opinions it was that was Ukrainians. Who did it? No, I don't. I don't believe this. But obviously, this was a sabotage. And remember putting after everything that he's done, he does not have an easy way out. He doesn't have an off ramp. He does not have a nice country to retire to. When will he retire North Korea? I don't know. So you have to think that that he is really not in a position where where he can go back or come back and make amends or anything, it's, it's over 150,000 people have died or, or something like that. So it's, it's really, it's over. So we won last important.on This map is that Russia started to really lose big time in Ukraine. And Putin came to a decision point where we had to do something and he had two options, either use a tactical nuclear strike, or announced mobilization and he decided to announce an mobilization, country wide partial mobilization. So obviously, these things are related connected to each other, somehow, and in the future, we will know, but right now we don't.

Chris Keefer  11:29  

Yeah, yeah. I mean, in terms of who could have done it, I just saw a tweet from Javier Blass not making any assumptions around that. But just that this is a major piece of infrastructure, the steel pipe 4.1 centimeters thick coated with another 11 centimeters of steel reinforced concrete. It's tough. Yeah, it always blows my mind, just from an engineering perspective. I mean, pipelines in general, but these undersea pipelines, just incredible feats of engineering.

Adam Blazowski  11:55  

But everybody around the Baltic, everybody around the Baltic Sea is now on high alert. Because if these pipes can implode, maybe other pipe right and also explode. What happens if it's published pipeline? What if it's a pipeline between Germany and Norway? What if it is, what if it is, shale gas? infrastructure in Norway, just couple of days ago, Norway have announced has announced that they have detected unknown drones flying close to their gas infrastructure. So clearly, there are things happening over there. And if when you are dependent on on on fossil fuels or other sources from other countries, this becomes your problem. If you have your own energy, then you don't have to bother. But when you import it from other countries, it becomes your issue.

Chris Keefer  12:43  

Yeah, and it's almost like a line has been crossed. I remember when Iran? Well, we think it was Iran launched a missile attack on Saudi Arabian oil refinery, it shut down Saudi production for quite some time. It certainly wasn't a first in history, but it was a major escalation. And one could imagine, you know, if the US or a non Russian actor blew up this pipeline, maybe Russia would retaliate by attacking energy infrastructure and other countries, if they're trying to squeeze Europe even further. A major escalation whatever this was, let's, let's leave aside some of the speculation. I think it's fascinating. But again, we'll learn more about that, as time runs its course, you know, you gave us a nice introduction, I guess, to this pipeline. But I'd like to dive a little bit deeper into that history into some of the cast of characters involved into how it plays into the Energiewende. So maybe, if we could start on the German side, you know, what were the what were the conditions under which Nord Stream one was, was put into motion?

Adam Blazowski  13:45  

Well, we have to go back to 1998. And, and this was the election in Germany, and this election was won by SPDR, which is social democrats call unions. And not only call unions but a lot strongly, strongly aligned with call unions and greens and the greens in Germany, they had this particular condition for the coalition. So if you want to be in coalition, if you want to rule, we are a kingmaker and you have to get rid of nuclear power. So the coal unions, they were thinking really, really hard and they said okay, if we can throw the nuclear unions under the bus, we can prolong. We can start the energy vendor, we can build a lot of renewable energy as greens will also undemanding and we can prolong coal a little bit more, maybe one or two or three decades, but we have to sacrifice nuclear, but we are going to need a lot of flexible and cheap natural gas us because we are building two parallel energy systems, renewable energy system and fossil fuel fossil fuel energy system, this is going to be expensive. But if we can have cheap gas, we can still be competitive and we can still make it. And then this coalition was chaired by Gerhard Schroeder. So you know, he will used to be a chancellor, and then he figured out, okay, we can keep the coal unions happy. And we can keep the Greens happy. And we just need cheap gas. And this is how he became really good friends with Putin. Because Putin had the same ideas in his mind. But he had different goals. He had different things in his mind, he wanted to achieve something else. And the German narrative would be that through Viet shaft through business, we are going to civilize Russia. And we are going to make them obey, because they're never going to play this gas car. They never we had pundits and energy experts, really popular, really claiming openly for several years, that Russia is never going to play the energy shone, blackmail card, because they will lose money on themselves, and cetera, et cetera, which all completely backfired. It, the history proved them completely naive and stupid and wrong. Because for some reason, they didn't understand that if the price of gas is five times higher, you can deliver 20%, and you still make the same amount of money. So this happened.

Chris Keefer  16:44  

Absolutely. And you were seeing in those early days, again, I'm referencing this tweet of yours, which we'll put in the show notes. Really, really excellent, distilled bit of history there. But in those early days of that green SPD coalition, there was actually a big construction phase of what were they called ultra modern high efficiency coal plants. Yes. So

Adam Blazowski  17:05  

normally call was doomed in Germany, but but during Shredder, and you can call them shredder babies, multiple should have the kingdom, multiple coal power plants have been built to replace the old. And of course, they were touted and promoted as extra super efficient and modern. And the Germans were the top coal power plant builders in the world. So they almost almost green, like the top top top engineering was involved in this. So you can see that how many new plants have been built, and they they will have a long resource, they are going to be available for many years, because they are modern.

Chris Keefer  17:56  

It's fascinating, you know, as I engage in some politics myself, and just discover how the political sausage gets made, but these special interest groups, you know, the coal unions, you know, a big source of power in Germany from the way of portraying it, the Green Party as a kingmaker party. You know, I think a lot of my countrymen and country women are, you know, very excited about the idea of proportional representation, because of our sort of first past the post system where you have the strong majority governments elected by a minority of the populace. But you know, the flip side of that is, is in these proportional representation systems, you can have a very small political actor with a real outsized influence, which has these energy and geopolitical impacts that are really reverberating onwards through time. I mean, it's, it's, it's extraordinary.

Adam Blazowski  18:46  

But you have to admit that the stars have aligned really badly for nuclear power. Yeah, everybody hates nuclear power. So especially all industry, so. So it was it was the right time.

Chris Keefer  19:03  

Right. In that Twitter thread, you have a great map, which shows where the European LNG terminals are. And strangely enough, there are none. German coast there are none. What a strange coincidence.

Adam Blazowski  19:18  

It's a very strange coincidence. And this is really, one would one would wonder why how come such a big country doesn't have an LNG terminal? And it turns out that this these terminals have been heavily heavily attacked by different NGOs and different organizations that maybe had good reasons, but they didn't really think strategically. And they believed this fairy tale first of all, that the gas is a transitionary fuel. I think this is hard to believe anymore, at least in this part of Europe anymore. And but they also didn't understand energy security as an issue. And I talked to many energy experts for several years and energy security was like, priority number 15, or 16. On the list, this was just this, we've been living in peace for so long, we forgot what it means to lose energy security. So, in Germany, this debate was really strong. And in one of the Polish newspapers or in Delhi, in 2011, there was an article that Gazprom has funded a new kind of foundation, it was called German Baltic Nature Conservation Foundation. And it was funded by Gazprom for 10 million euro. And they took the CEO of WWF, they took the CEO of Bucha, which is right in France, friends of Earth, and Naboo, which is an environmental organization. And these three people left the organization, they started this new one, supposedly to, to take care of politics, and, and immediately after the Boond, have dropped their opposition to try to block Nord Stream one on environmental reasons. So it's a surprising coincidence. The whole episode, I think it's today is about the surprising coincidence that happen when you deal with Russia. And when you deal with gas, a lot of magic unexpected magic happens. So then,

Chris Keefer  21:32  

so what was the what was the argument of these environmental NGOs? I mean, this gas pipeline disrupted the Baltic Sea, they said it was better than LNG, or what was the

Adam Blazowski  21:42  

gas? And I'm quoting, both, they tried to defend themselves and they say, Yeah, we we are incorruptible. We never intended to block this pipeline, because it's good for the environment pipeline is much better for the environment than a lot of LNG traffic. And, of course, one that who understands the geopolitics understands that the LNG traffic comes from America, and the pipe comes from Russia. So right, so you can say, yes, it's better for the environment if you have a pipe, but not necessarily if it's pipe from Russia. But then they say that they never really wanted. They were opposing this pipeline, only until the moment when, when they were paid, or the people who were in charge were paid. And then they say, Yeah, but we never really wanted to stop it. Because it's natural gas is seen as more environmentally friendly transition alternative in all exit scenarios from nuclear and coal by Delhi based electricity generation. So it just fit their narrative, it fitted their story. And for them, it was natural to do this. And if somebody wanted to pay for it, it's only the better

Chris Keefer  23:00  

Yeah. Right, right. I mean, it's it's very puzzling and hard to disentangle. What the principles are these environmental organizations,

Adam Blazowski  23:13  

okay, you can read the sources in my thread, I'm quoting, actual facts, historical facts, and they were never ostracized, they were never critiqued for this. Of course, Poland was crying foul. But always Poland, Lithuania, Estonia, Finland. Everyone, in the closer you live to Russia, the the more realistic you are about how these things work. But the typical response from Germany via you, your Russophobic No, we are not Russophobic. We love Russian people, we just have a problem living close to Russia, and because it leads to problems. And the Russia doesn't respect the borders of other countries. And that's the main main issue.

Chris Keefer  24:02  

Right? You know, a broken clock is right, two times a day. And there was this precious moment in the UN when Trump was pointing at the German delegation and saying, you know, you guys have become completely dependent on Russia and you know, the kind of smug smirks coming from the Germans. You know, in retrospect, pretty.

Adam Blazowski  24:25  

Guess who's laughing now?

Chris Keefer  24:28  

Yeah, yeah, exactly.

Adam Blazowski  24:30  

So, in the end, German ended up without LNG ports, completely dependent on the Russian. It's not the only source but a major source of gas, enough to supply to affect the price. And soon Russia and also Gazprom came owner of storage tanks in in Germany, and then you can't make this stuff up. Now. No, they they, then in the run up to the war, you would notice that these storage tanks started to become empty for some reason. And, and, and it was unexplained. Now the storage tanks are nationalized, and they are not longer in German hands. But Germans really believed they can civilize Putin through through business. But he had other ideas from the start. And he was quite clear about it.

Chris Keefer  25:31  

Right, so we've talked, I think, in some depth now about the history of Nord Stream one, there are two pipelines, Nord Stream two. Can you go through when that was built? And, you know, again, Angela Merkel had given this assurance to Ukraine, don't worry, this pipeline will not affect, you know, you're sort of almost like a security guarantee from what you're saying? Yes. But I believe Nord Stream two, I mean, certainly, a lot of construction happened after the annexation of Crimea. Yes. So walk walk us through the context of, you know, the sister pipeline, which I believe runs right alongside in which was also depressurized.

Adam Blazowski  26:08  

So the other one was built specifically to it almost exactly, both of them have almost exactly the same volume, as would be going through Ukraine, just by accident. One is 55. The other one is 55 billion cubic meters. The volume that would go through Ukraine was 120. So it's almost exactly the same volume. So with the other pipeline, putting was able to completely strangle Ukraine, and not endanger countries like Hungary, Slovakia, Czech. Yeah, Germany. So that was absolutely really critical for him to build the other pipeline so that he can strangle Ukraine. And and the Germans took it hook and sinker. They said, Okay, we can have more gas, we can be a gas hub for for whole of Central Eastern Europe. Why not? Let's do this. And, and they were strongly believing that that that business is going to keep Ukraine safe. And this is why it was built last year, it was heavily sabotaged by sabotaged or blocked by American Americans. And Trump was right. When he said you are investing in Russian pipeline you're going to play to Russia to put in, I think it's better you trade with NATO allies, and you can disagree with Trump on many things. But he was spot on, on this issue. So it was finished last year, but it was never approved in the courts. Because it was not legally according to the European law, that everybody can benefit from this pipe. transparently. Russia likes to choose winners and say you can buy pipeline because you're nice, you can buy this gas and you cannot buy this gas because you're not nice. So Russia was playing people against each other. And they are playing people inside Europe against each other. So the whole concept of energy solidarities. Okay, you can build this pipeline, but everybody can buy this gas, even Ukraine if they want. And, and that was never true. So this pipeline was never started. But it was ready. It was ready to go. Right?

Chris Keefer  28:32  

So who loses here? I mean, you had the German government say hey, there's just two private companies working together. I mean, this was a major, major project. It's a major huge capital intensive project. You know, how many billions were spent and what's what's been like?

Adam Blazowski  28:48  

I don't I don't have a value out of my hand. But it's it's a major project with mainly with the money from the Austria, Austrian National r&d, and, and several others, Western companies. So it is a lot of private capital lost. It's a huge problem for the German economy because the price of gas is just skyrocketing. The time will tell who is losing of course, Russia is losing also because they cannot do anything else with this gas. They are flaring this gas close to Finland. You can see this flame from space. Because they have to they have to vent it somehow and then they have to burn it. So I don't know who time will tell who is losing but someone definitely who's losing is a German politician who was really really really strong in favor of this pipeline this man was facing and she's head of the of the region of Germany, which is north east close to Poland, who was also very, very pro Russia historically and still are. I think she won election recently. So she's absolutely representing a region which is underinvested. Its ex DDR is excellent East Germany, part of Germany. And this is where Nord Stream comes out of the sea and enters Germany. And this is where all the profits from the from this trade would stay in this region. So Manuela was definitely losing. By the way, I don't know if you know that Nord Stream comes out of the sea, and it enters land on the side of a closed nuclear power plant. Just

Chris Keefer  30:47  

I was just a rabbit. I wasn't aware of that. I was aware of that because Decouple studios, host Jesse Freeston actually shot some very interesting footage, which we'll be releasing, hopefully very soon. Well, he did a bit of an energy tour in Europe and was drawing a lot of comparisons between France and Germany. But he did I think it's gundrum. Again, he visited there and had a tour of the pipeline, I think we'll have to get him to publish that stuff ASAP.

Adam Blazowski  31:14  

It's there's again, there are multiple there are multiple power plants in in Germany, nuclear power plants that have a gas pipeline being built onto the site. So this is this is really hilarious, hilarious and tragic at the same. So just going back to who is losing Manuela ashless shozy, she created a special foundation to bypass the embargo from from the America on this pipeline. And this Climate Foundation, really considered gas as a friendly, a friend of the energy transformation. And they have found out more than more than 200 million euro through this foundation, from bank Gazprom just to try to finish this gas pipeline. So this is major, major violation of trust, and, and really interference in politics of another country. So Germans are now investigating this, and there will be this topic is going to be really huge. Both Schneider and Faizi. will either she's going to be on the on the front pages in the future because they accepted a lot of money from Russia.

Chris Keefer  32:23  

I was reading stories at the beginning of of the Ukraine war. Schroeder lost his honorary citizenship, I think in the city of Hamburg, as a consequence of these decisions, the last politician to lose that distinction was Adolf Hitler. But But back back, I mean, back to the environmentalists, it is pretty astounding. I think there's still a decent amount of sort of social trust for environmental organizations, a lot of people vote with their donation dollars, towards environmental NGOs. They tend to again, be be fairly well trust that I, I mean, we've seen here how they've been weaponized for broader geopolitical aims, how, in many, many ways, their efforts don't result in net environmental benefit. I mean, I'm not sure if what you anticipate in Germany, whether there's going to be a real shift in terms of again, of that social trust that that is put into environmental organizations? Because they certainly they're certainly well resourced.

Adam Blazowski  33:27  

I would strongly oppose putting all the eggs in one basket, so we cannot blame all environmental organizations to be paid by put in, I really don't think so. Some of them have been corrupted. And this is I think, a true it's a fact. So we have to live with this and the environmental movement needs to get along with it, then we have to process this and we have to learn lessons and not prevent it into the future. Mr. hubback announced already today that perhaps nuclear power plants will need to run longer in winter. So, again, another strange, strange thing that happens, this coincidence is amazing. So I think

Chris Keefer  34:28  

one thing one thing, yeah, something that's fascinating here and I mean, I hope this isn't a premonition, but you know, if the bar has been lowered for sabotaging major energy projects, particularly pipelines, which you know, to me have always seemed to be pretty vulnerable assets, I guess, particularly these undersea ones. You know, one could imagine that if gas supplies from Norway say were impacted, I mean, if if cheap, plentiful gas is not available, or if there was an attack on an LNG ship, if that came into question, there would be absolutely No doubt about the essential nature of those nuclear plants. Yes. And I think all of the nuclear closers be thrown into question. I mean, Belgium just shut down. I think it's still well below 10%. And dual three that 10% of their electricity supply. I mean, again, I've talked about this for a while the ally of nuclear energy is physics. It's, as you mentioned, there, no one loves the green organizations don't the coal unions don't. But in the end, you know, if fossil fuels are constrained, and, you know, geo from a geo political and energy security perspective, they're, they're vulnerable, because they're hard to store for long periods of time. Nuclear, nuclear, is that ultimate energy security play? So I'm just, I'm just curious, I guess on on your thoughts on that. I mean, it is it is great news that that habeck is reconsidering.

Adam Blazowski  35:50  

I think he will reconsider back and forth three more times. I have a thread about this, and I'm following this since February, no even even earlier. And and there have been like, it's like a soap opera, but worse. And, and I think they will be changing their mind 15 times. So until January when these plants are working, I will not going to concede that we that we won with our campaign, but but you never know, maybe they will decide faster. It is amazing roller coaster that is going on because the Green Party has been built, it has been built on the antiA Antinuclearism. So for them, it's like denying the foundation of the movement. So they are afraid to be split. So it's it's it's horrible. It's like watching a car crash in slow motion. You know, it's horrible. But you cannot turn your eyes away. Right? It's

Chris Keefer  36:55  

Adam, I would be remiss if I was speaking to a poll and did not get an update on nuclear plans in Poland. There's been a lot of memorandums of understanding with a number of nuclear companies. Last energy I'm aware of I know there's a bunch of other ones. But to what degree has the war in Ukraine spent that up? I've heard that nuclear has been on the agenda for some time. I think we discussed that in our last episode. But that was a year ago, let's let's get an update

Adam Blazowski  37:22  

support for for nuclear power is growing in Poland. And this is pretty enormous. If you look at the charts, like 70% of people are supportive. We are absolutely the Eldorado of the SMR right now, every month, there is a new SMR company promising and signing an MOU with this company or that company. So some of them make really crazy promises other are really reasonable and, and maybe something comes out of it. But just two weeks ago, I was organizing a conference nuclear for local governments. And we talked with with presidents of several cities. And they are absolutely ready to have a stake in a nuclear power plant that can provide baseload, we are talking about city presidents elected officials. They say an NG needs to be clean and needs to be cheap, it needs to be stable. If we ever want to promise our citizens free public transport, and this is something in Europe, that's really big. People are talking people demanding free public transport, then if it needs to be electrified, we need a lot of clean, low carbon power and nuclear is for that. So there is the for the first time since many, many years people actually understand what the why, why do we need nuclear power. Previously, it was a toy, that previously it was something that was enforced. And right now we understand that it's a vital critical climate infrastructure, and it needs to be built. So the Polish nuclear power plant project is supposed to choose the vendor. So we have Koreans, we have Americans, we have French who have all three, proposed the offers, they put it on the table in the ministry, and probably next month, we are going to hear I hope, according to the schedule, that who is going to build it. We also have finished the environmental report, the report can be downloaded. And the plant will be in hot travel north of Poland by the Baltic Sea. And so it's like that's where we are going.

Chris Keefer  39:41  

It's interesting, looking at power prices in Europe and Poland has been relatively affordable. I imagine that's because of that large coal fleet, which I understand is aging. You know, there's a huge number of megawatt hours to be replaced here. You mentioned those three vendors. I'm not aware of any of those vendors having SMR is on offer is large nuclear also being discussed, this is a mix being

Adam Blazowski  40:08  

Polish, the national government program is only accepting big PW ours. So there is no no SMR. Because the condition is really hardcoded there needs to be a PW R. And it needs to be going on, we have these, these and it needs to be something that already is built. So we are going to be going for AP 1000 or the Koreans or the or the or the APR, that's the three are in the race.

Chris Keefer  40:42  

Thank God the Koreans are, are back in its newly elected president just visited Canada. And you know, they've committed to decreasing the share of renewables and increasing the share of of nuclear. So it seems like the Koreans might be back in the game and maybe could pull off a Baraka UAE style employment,

Adam Blazowski  41:04  

the previous president really made a lot of efforts to destroy reputation and the industry. So it's good that the new one has a different view. But it really is difficult to sell your power plants and say at the same time that you're not building them at home. So this, this is good change, I think Korea.

Chris Keefer  41:30  

Right, right. In terms of the rationale, by the planning department in Poland, for selecting, you know, already existing already built designs, you know, who's making those decisions? And why do you think those are the decisions being made.

Adam Blazowski  41:48  

This is a decision of Ministry of climate, as far as I understand. And I think one of the reasons is that Poland is going to lose so much of coal capacity, we would have to build a lot of SMR, ours to replace this capacity. If you look at new scale, how many modules you need to build, to replace, I don't know, 10 gigawatts of coal that is going to be out within several years. So you cannot bet your strategic assets on on something that is really early in development. So the marketing teams can promise you a lot. And it's okay, if if the private entity wants to build it, no problem, the government will really support it. But for the big things we have to do. And we have to choose something that that's at least proven somewhere else. Right.

Chris Keefer  42:51  

Interesting. The other thing, I'd just like to talk to you about a bit Adam, I haven't had a chance, again to speak with Eastern European guests in some time. But again, just your sense of how things are developing in Ukraine and how that affects you in Poland. I mean, we can talk about that from an energy perspective, or just basically from a humanity type perspective. I just wanted to get an update and get your thoughts about the state of affairs with the Russian aggression in Ukraine.

Adam Blazowski  43:21  

Well, there is an overwhelming support for Ukraine. And this goes even beyond anything I have seen before. Historically, Poland, Russia, Ukraine, had difficult history. But every time Poland and Ukraine were standing together, we would win with Russia. So I think there is a strong friendship and strong union between the two countries. There is a tremendous amount of refugees in my country. They are welcomed my city population to my cities, but also of west of West west of western Poland. Close closer to Berlin than to Warsaw. But my city population of my city has exploded by 30%. Within two months. You cannot rent an apartment, you cannot find a place to stay with reasonable prices anymore, because everything everything is really rented and or given to the refugees. Poland has been really active in helping Ukraine. This is why our gas pipeline to Russia has been turned off much faster than the German one. But we have foreseen it. We are saying for many years this is going to happen. Putin is going to use this to blackmail us so we just don't want to have anything to do with it. We told Russia over the Before the war, we don't want your gas. Because as soon as you buy Russian gas, you have all these crazy foundations, all these NGOs popping up all these strange, different people showing up with their own agendas, and you just cannot control it. It's not something. This is something that the West does not understand. In Western Europe, we like to call ourselves Central Eastern Europe. But the Western Europe does not understand this because they live far away from Russia. And they think that the, the Russian government's governance works in similar way as it works in Germany. So this is what we were saying for many years. And now, unfortunately, we are validated on this. But unfortunately, with a huge, huge loss of life and suffering. Just an anecdote, Poland has lost like 250 tanks in the spring, we had 215 50, Soviet tanks, and they were lost. We nobody knew where they are. And then they appeared in Ukraine a couple of weeks later. We have this peculiar kind of sense of humor when we talk about these things, because when you deal with Russia, things are not rational. They are not normal. They, they have a different parallel way of of happening. So when you would ask a Polish government, what happened to her to your tanks, and the Polish government will say we don't know we lost them. And now they are serving in hairstyling and in doughnuts and

Chris Keefer  46:38  

Zap aresia has been an issue in the media. And now I think another Ukrainian plant, Southern southern Ukrainian nuclear plant. Maybe I'm butchering the name of it there had a shell explosion nearby know you've been following that carefully. I heard that in Poland, they're distributing iodine tablets. I'm not sure if that is a true story if it is related. But But how were how are people responding to that? Is there a lot of fear? And how is that affecting the debate about nuclear energy and Poland?

Adam Blazowski  47:06  

Well, first of all, Appalachia is in shutdown. So really, we should not worry about this. But again, it's not good. It's not good for the Ukrainian people who need this power, they need this electricity, winter is coming. Russia is attacking their cold, CHP plants cogeneration district heating, and a lot of these people are going to turn to electric heating, where are they go? Where are they going to get the power from? If the nuclear power plants shut down? So this is what I tell my my American friends, please don't be so overly happy with the shutdown was a pleasure, because there is a reason why this power plant is working. And there is a reason why this electricity is needed. And it will be in winter. So it's not something to celebrate. Not Not at all. Of course, it means there is no direct risk of any accident. Going back to the the iodine, it was distributed to the firefighters. And I think schools but not to the people. And actually, I remember because I was I remember the Chernobyl and I was taking the iodine. myself. When I was I don't know, nine or six. I don't remember exactly. But I remember this where we couldn't play in the grass. And we could not drink milk and my mother was pregnant. And we would only drink milk from a can instant milk, we would not give her and milk from from a shop. So we remember this Chernobyl scare. And people there is no panic, nothing like this because it's something we remember. And we know it was it wasn't that as bad as we thought it was a scare was much worse than an actual danger that that will happen then. So there is no it's I was on the meeting with the local residents of the new power plant in Poland. Nobody really cared about the radiation or or iodine or whatever these things. No people cared about how many trucks are going to drive to this power plant. Are they going to make a lot of noise? Are you going to start building this and then you will stop and then you leave this ugly foundations forever like you did with the previous engine? No, it's so people are afraid of nuclear in Poland. But only they are afraid of something else. They are afraid that it will be started and not finished. Like the one

Chris Keefer  49:56  

that is your I think a lot of people don't know that we didn't we did talk about that and On a previous episode, but a plant was was started, but as you mentioned, not finished

Adam Blazowski  50:05  

again, it was it was killed by coal unions that were at that time, the Solidarity movement, and it was the end it was the Soviet Communist government representative who said, no, no, we have to leave this nuclear power plant working because there is something like climate change, and it's going to be important in the future. So the Communists were right. And the Solidarity was wrong on that one.

Chris Keefer  50:33  

Incredible, incredible. Adam, I think we're gonna wrap it up there. This has been just a wonderful conversation. It's been far too long. I'm excited to have you back. Because, again, such an insightful voice. You know, for me, just this idea that, you know, a lot of a lot of those nuclear advocates in the West, as you mentioned, have been very happy and saying, Hey, when are they going to just put this plan into cold storage, let's let's like take it off the table as something that could be a danger or could be exploited as a danger in terms of the global sort of nuclear advocacy movement, but you're pointing to the very real life and death element here. Ukraine is a cold country in the winter. And as you mentioned, it sounds like there's a sort of infrastructural scorched earth policy that's playing itself out now, as Russia becomes increasingly desperate, and many, many, many people may freeze to death. Yeah, this winter in Ukraine. And and, you know, especially comparing that to Chernobyl or you know, even a worst case scenario is up Reja with much more developed reactors with with proper containment, etc. We very rarely sort of weigh these these trade offs and these risk benefits you're from, you're from a fascinating part of the world. I mean, shit is real in Central Eastern Europe right now it is. And if I can just your perspectives are appreciated, if I can just

Adam Blazowski  51:53  

summarize this, there is no way that the climate efforts and climate priorities are going to be considered if we do not have security. And if we do not have our homes warm, and our children fed, this is why we started our Polish pragmatic movement, because we saw all this ideology, especially the Anti-nuclear ideology, and is dreaming, that's really dangerous. And we said, No, if we allow the collapse of the of the civilization, or even a state or local government, people, if the people are going to burn the last three, and people are going to eat the last rare animal, if the children are hungry, and freezing, so actually, if you really want to protect nature, we have to protect people because their needs, our nature, in part is hostage to our well being. Because our priorities and our climate ambitions, they will go they will disappear, like tears in the rain, when we don't care about the people and their needs. So this is why we have this this slogan, liberate nature and and elevate people, because we actually have to tackle both. And this is a pragmatic environmentalism without this kind of darker green taint, which is really playing out right now and being compromised. And yeah, in German is a good picture of where this goes, if you if you exclude low carbon choices and forget about energy security, then this is what you get.

Chris Keefer  53:50  

Okay, Adam, a lot of this conversation grows out of a really viral thread on the subject of the Nord Stream pipelines. Where can people find you on Twitter and elsewhere? Really excited to bring more attention to your great work? Yes.

Adam Blazowski  54:08  

Please follow. You can follow me and you can put it in the show notes, I think. So, Adam, Adam Blazowski. And that's my Twitter thread. You can follow more of us about Liberty planet, that's let's read planet, Twitter account. Then we talk about all the issues, not only about nuclear, but also about rebooting food. And one of our campaigns is to switch off putting and this campaign is bringing trucks.

Chris Keefer  54:41  

Someone just switched off Putin.

Adam Blazowski  54:44  

Well, we hope he switched off because he's a threat to our climate ambitions and he's a threat to humans and to biodiversity. On this Sunday, we are going to talk about biodiversity loss in Ukraine. We have a conference in Warsaw and we're going to talk How biodiversity is affected by the war. So a lot of our campaigns are pragmatic and really we want to save whatever we can out of this mess before it's too late. So it is it is a very good thing to do and good purpose to, to follow.

Chris Keefer  55:20  

Okay, Adam, thanks again for taking the time on such short notice. Always happy to join with bank. We look forward to having you back soon my friend. Bye for now. Bye

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