Much of the world is concerned about the sudden shortage of natural gas and the impact is being felt in rising utility bills, factory closures and mounting despair as winter approaches.
In Asia, Europe and Latin America, consumers still recovering from the pandemic find that the price of electricity is skyrocketing, driven by natural gas prices that have quadrupled in some regions in recent months, reaching all-time highs this week. Manufacturers of chemicals, steel, ceramics and other goods that require large amounts of electricity are seeing their profits shrink and, in some cases, suspend operations.
In South Korea, electricity rates have just increased for the first time since 2013 and small businesses that struggled with months of strict restrictions due to the pandemic now fear price surges in the future. “Survival in itself is difficult for small businesses,” said the Korea Micro-Enterprise Federation.
In Brazil, the worst drought in 90 years depleted hydroelectric production and forced electricity generators to import expensive natural gas. The government raised electricity prices by nearly 7 percent in September, following an increase of nearly 8 percent in July.
Europeans are also feeling the effects of the crisis. In Spain, the government recently said it would withdraw profits from energy companies to help consumers. In Italy, residents were hit by a 14 percent increase in their gas bills, accompanied by a nearly 30 percent increase in electricity rates.
“We will have to wash dishes or clothes at night to save money,” said Carla Forni, a teacher and mother of two in Bologna.
In China, which is already the world’s largest natural gas importer, demand increased 13 percent as Xi Jinping, the country’s leader, continues with his plans to clean up the environment by abandoning coal.
The United States, a major gas exporter, has benefited from strong global demand. Prices, which have risen to their highest levels in years, have recently prompted calls to halt shipments abroad. However, US prices are just a fraction of those in Europe and Asia these days.
The global shortage is linked to the growing popularity of natural gas as a fuel to generate electricity, since it generates fewer greenhouse gas emissions than coal. In many countries, it serves as a cleaner alternative to coal plants and old nuclear generators, while power grids await the expansion of renewable sources such as wind and solar energy.
Disclaimer: This article is generated from the feed and not edited by our team.