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Author Topic: Alignment/Conflict between Geopolitics, Energy Security and Climate Mitigation  (Read 8958 times)

rboyd

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1. Renewables are cheaper than 75% of US coal plants which are pretty much all subcritical highly inefficient ones and it wont be until 2025 until renewables are cheaper than all US coal plants (from the reference below):


Subcritical does not equate to highly inefficient.  The gains from much higher pressures are small and the efficiencies overlap. e.g. the most efficient subcritical plant in the US is more efficient than the most efficient ultrasupercritical in the US despite being over 40 years older.

The extent to which pollution is controlled and whether that control is counted as a loss of output (and hence lower efficiency) or not is rather more important to reported efficiencies than the operating pressure is.

I am comparing Chinese plants to US ones. The latest Chinese regulations for coal-fired electricity generation efficiency (i.e. the minimum efficiency level), in full force by 2020, could not be met by the top US plants. So renewables may be cost effective with the bottom 75% of plants in the US, but not with the average plant in China. I accept that not all super critical plants may be more efficient than subcritical ones, there are other variables, but the relative position of US and Chinese fleets is real. China has also been consolidating and automating its coal fields, reducing the marginal cost of coal.

They are fully committed to coal for at least the medium term, and building new coal-fired plants with assumed 40 year economic lives. They may be wrong, but thats the way they are going.

rboyd

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rboyd, have you read Rachel Maddow's latest book already? Seems very relevant to your research.

Rachel used to be quite a good progressive journalist, but in the past few years she has fully swallowed the "Putin Derangement" and "Trump Derangement" syndromes, like much of the, if not all of the, MSM (it seems the gig pays $very$ well). I am no fan of either Putin or Trump, but the level of "making shit up" and outright innuendo driven propaganda is just off the charts. Not even at the height of the Cold War with the USSR did we vilify major foreign leaders like this and label major heads of state meeting together as collusion.

I find Stephen Cohen, a man who has studied Russia for decades to be a reasonable voice that has had the courage to stick to his position in the face of much vilification. We need less hotheads and chicken hawk warrior neocons, and more pragmatist realists (Mearsheimer is good in this respect). A bit of history also comes in very useful.

For light relief I use Jimmy Dore, you have to laugh otherwise your should be crying with the ridiculous level of what passes for intelligent comments on the MSM.

I will read the book, I just hope that it is not full of the kind of made up crap and unsupported innuendo that she fills her show with.

Got to page 43 and couldn't stomach it any more "Khordokovsky (biggest Oligarch) Wonderfully Good" / "Putin Bad", the usual black/white BS. You have a head of state reigning in the robber barons (who stole/embezzled/cheated for much of what they had, including Khordokovsky) who Yeltsin basically worked for, to reassert the state's authority. That's why Khordokovsky was taken down, to rebalance power between the state and these oligarchs who were using the state for their own benefit right through the 1990s. Putin also reasserted the authority of the central state against many regional politicians who were creaming off money for themselves. A modern nation cannot run effectively without a strong state apparatus. Yukos (Khodokovsky's company) was also in talks to sell 40% of itself to Exxon, handed strategic asset to US corporations. This is something that no nation (including the US) would willingly accept.

The writing style is just like her shows unfortunately....constant pissy insults, innuendo and blatantly factually incorrect and slanted. Reminds me of a child rather than someone supposed to be an accomplished journalist.

Putin is not a "good guy" but her characterization of him is a simplistic caricature.


« Last Edit: November 23, 2019, 02:00:02 AM by rboyd »

Richard Rathbone

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1. Renewables are cheaper than 75% of US coal plants which are pretty much all subcritical highly inefficient ones and it wont be until 2025 until renewables are cheaper than all US coal plants (from the reference below):


Subcritical does not equate to highly inefficient.  The gains from much higher pressures are small and the efficiencies overlap. e.g. the most efficient subcritical plant in the US is more efficient than the most efficient ultrasupercritical in the US despite being over 40 years older.

The extent to which pollution is controlled and whether that control is counted as a loss of output (and hence lower efficiency) or not is rather more important to reported efficiencies than the operating pressure is.

I am comparing Chinese plants to US ones. The latest Chinese regulations for coal-fired electricity generation efficiency (i.e. the minimum efficiency level), in full force by 2020, could not be met by the top US plants. So renewables may be cost effective with the bottom 75% of plants in the US, but not with the average plant in China. I accept that not all super critical plants may be more efficient than subcritical ones, there are other variables, but the relative position of US and Chinese fleets is real. China has also been consolidating and automating its coal fields, reducing the marginal cost of coal.

They are fully committed to coal for at least the medium term, and building new coal-fired plants with assumed 40 year economic lives. They may be wrong, but thats the way they are going.

The difference between US and China being down to the technology isn't convincing, because the gap between modern US and modern Chinese is just as big as the gap between ancient US and modern Chinese.

The US and China report different things to different standards, and my reading of the research notes provided on them does not convince me that the estimates based on the US figures are for the same thing as the official Chinese figures they are being compared to.

Modern US ought to be a lot closer to the modern Chinese if its a technology effect. I do not find the size of that gap to be credible for an apples/apples comparison, but it is credible for the US figures being plant efficiencies and the Chinese ones being cycle efficiencies. However I can't read the Chinese standards and I'm not familiar with how the Chinese industry interprets them so its not something I've been able to check.

TerryM

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FWIW
A local who I was acquainted with ~ a decade ago had been the chief engineer responsible for building a very large coal plant in Indonesia. Babcock & Wilcox was his employer, and while awaiting his next assignment he regaled us with tales of past successes and failures.


The Indonesian project was presented as a mixture of success and failure. It apparently ran as designed and burned coal extremely efficiently, lots of kW/tonne. The plant could also run very cleanly, with emissions that were competitive with CH4 fired plants.
The downside was finding storage for the captured CO2, and the inefficiencies that their "clean coal" design required.


According to Matt the plant was run for <1 month in "clean" mode as it was found to lose ~ 1/3 of its efficiency, & the owners were looking for a profitable solution.
If China has developed coal plants that can retain their efficiency while reducing emissions to ~ the level of modern gas fired plants then they're far ahead of where large western engineered plants were as recently as 10 years ago.
 
The giant B&W facility in Indonesia was representative of the most advanced designs available in the west at that time, and it would have to be seen as a very expensive failure.
Apparently the plants China has designed for domestic use, and those that they are building abroad have overcome these deficiencies.
Terry

rboyd

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I am no expert on coal plant efficiency. The average US plant is 39 years old, while the 15 years old which may speak to the relative efficiency. Understood that US and Chinese measures may be using different metrics, it would be good to find some clean, direct comparisons.

Florifulgurator

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For light relief I use Jimmy Dore, you have to laugh otherwise your should be crying with the ridiculous level of what passes for intelligent comments on the MSM.
You find Jimmy's comments intelligent? Serious intelligence requires substance. Dore is bad on the evidentiary side of epistemology. He has long jumped the shark, https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Jimmy_Dore ...now even officially working for Russia Today. Leftist GOP propagandist. (It is now official that the GOP is channeling Putin disinformation.)

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Khordokovsky
Yes. Back then.
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Putin also reasserted the authority of the central state.
Yes. He is the central state now. Good job. Some call it a mafia state.

Anyhow I appreciate your criticism of Maddow's book. I guess you won't get around reading the whole darn thing. :)
« Last Edit: November 27, 2019, 09:31:51 PM by Florifulgurator »
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Florifulgurator

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Yukos (Khodokovsky's company) was also in talks to sell 40% of itself to Exxon, handed strategic asset to US corporations.
(My emph.) Meanhile it is stranded assets. That's what the whole world-wide conundrum is about. And meanwhile Exxon almost got a different big deal in Russian assets. My impression is, Putin's whole strategy (economical and geopolitical, e.g. Ukraine) is based on such assets.

--------------
I'd like to think of Exxon as a corporation in itself, not a specifically U.S. corporation. We have to stop thinking of THE U.S. as a heterogeneous predictable entity - as the Kurds had to learn again these days... Just like Putin's Russia isn't Russia herself.
« Last Edit: November 27, 2019, 09:56:27 PM by Florifulgurator »
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vox_mundi

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The U.S. Army Versus a Warming Planet: The Strange Case of the Disappearing Report
https://www.redanalysis.org/2019/11/12/us-army-versus-warming-planet/

In August 2019, the Centre for Climate and Security published an article about a recent publication by the U.S Army War College. The document, entitled “Implications of Climate change for the U.S Army”, however, cannot be found anymore on the “publications” page of the U.S Army War College.

The version posted by the Centre for Climate and Security has neither foreword, nor commissioning letter, nor date of publication. However, according to the CCS, it would have been “commissioned by then-Army Chief of Staff General Mark Milley (who is now the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff)”.

Despite the atypical character of its appearance, this report is quite interesting, in as much as it is written by military staff and researchers, based on a dense corpus of research papers published by civil as well as by national security organizations since 2003, and for the Chief of Staff. A such, it opens a window on a way the U.S military thinks about climate change.

In the very words of its authors,

Quote
“ … , if climate change is occurring and we choose to do nothing, we invite catastrophe, though we cannot know just how bad this payoff would be … Prudent risk management therefore suggests that we should work to avoid the catastrophic outcome and prepare for and mitigate climate change. Based on this argument, this report accepts as a core assumption the reality of climate change and climate-change related global warming, and therefore focuses on what the Army should do to prepare itself”.

Report: https://climateandsecurity.files.wordpress.com/2019/07/implications-of-climate-change-for-us-army_army-war-college_2019.pdf
“There are three classes of people: those who see. Those who see when they are shown. Those who do not see.” ― Leonardo da Vinci

Insensible before the wave so soon released by callous fate. Affected most, they understand the least, and understanding, when it comes, invariably arrives too late

rboyd

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Yukos (Khodokovsky's company) was also in talks to sell 40% of itself to Exxon, handed strategic asset to US corporations.
I'd like to think of Exxon as a corporation in itself, not a specifically U.S. corporation. We have to stop thinking of THE U.S. as a heterogeneous predictable entity - as the Kurds had to learn again these days... Just like Putin's Russia isn't Russia herself.

The large transnational US corporations are connected at the hip with the US state. There is an excellent book that looks at the social networks of the US state foreign policy community and finds an incredibly tight overlap between US TNCs, think-tanks funded by those TNCs and the US mega-rich, and the policy community. In addition, the major fossil fuel TNCs have coordinated with the US state again and again in foreign policy decsions that affect their profitability.

American Grand Strategy and Corporate Elite Networks: The Open Door since the End of the Cold War

https://www.amazon.com/American-Grand-Strategy-Corporate-Networks-ebook/dp/B0171ZQSTS/ref=sr_1_3?keywords=apeldoorn&qid=1575316191&s=books&sr=1-3

Also, a good paper by the same authors on the Chinese corporate elite and state networks, its in an academic journal so you may not have access:

US--China relations and the liberal world order: contending elites, colliding visions?

And a book they wrote on the EU elite/business linkages

Transnational Capitalism and the Struggle over European Integration

https://www.amazon.com/Transnational-Capitalism-Struggle-Integration-Political-ebook-dp-B000PLXBUA/dp/B000PLXBUA/ref=mt_kindle?_encoding=UTF8&me=&qid=1575316523

The books are expensive, but you can get second hand copies quite cheap (like $9 for the last one). I am an academic, so I can get them from the library (or another university's library). Having no limit on the amount of books I can take out, and access to all the publications for free, is a wonderful gift!




vox_mundi

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Choose Your Own Climate and Energy Policies
https://www.axios.com/choose-your-own-climate-and-energy-adventure-9020127b-727c-451d-bbc9-f340655f599f.html

A new simulator out today empowers readers to choose their own path when it comes to tackling climate change.

https://www.climateinteractive.org/tools/en-roads/

Why it matters: The tool, created by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and think tank Climate Interactive, underscores the grand challenge of employing technologies and policies to tackle climate change.

What’s new: This simulator is the first of its kind designed for politicians and others who care about climate change and energy, but aren’t researchers accustomed to arcane models.

  • From this simulator, which is still quite detailed, we curated an even more simplified interactive (see below) presenting nine questions on everything from carbon dioxide prices to land management.
  • At the end, it shows how your choices affect annual greenhouse gas emissions, global temperature rise and energy costs over the next 80 years.

... The bottom line: The biggest upshot of the simulator shows that cutting emissions needs to be first about reducing the world’s use of fossil fuels, instead of merely ramping up cleaner forms of energy. Global energy demand keeps increasing, so wind and solar are being added on top of fossil fuels in most places around the world.
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... “It takes a long time for clean energy to displace the coal, oil and gas that is being planned. We need policies that more directly keep those fuels in the ground."

— Andrew Jones, co-founder, Climate Interactive
“There are three classes of people: those who see. Those who see when they are shown. Those who do not see.” ― Leonardo da Vinci

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rboyd

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Yukos (Khodokovsky's company) was also in talks to sell 40% of itself to Exxon, handed strategic asset to US corporations.
(My emph.) Meanhile it is stranded assets. That's what the whole world-wide conundrum is about. And meanwhile Exxon almost got a different big deal in Russian assets. My impression is, Putin's whole strategy (economical and geopolitical, e.g. Ukraine) is based on such assets.

During the 1988 to 2000 depression that hit the USSR, and then Russia, the economy lost most of its heavy industry and did not develop the light industry that was so lacking under Soviet rule. Putin took back some state control of the major resource assets upon which the Russian economy is now based (oil, gas, coal, iron ore, nickel) and form the overwhelming majority of the country's exports.

This is the hand that was provided at the turn of this century, and the nation has been unable to move away from it. Add some positives in arms production and nuclear power and thats about it. Russia is trapped in a fossil fuel orientation, and that is why it allies with states such as Saudi Arabia at the UN climate change meetings. Cutting emissions = economic contraction for Russia, which will delegitimize the state, so its not an option. It would also mean reducing the wealth of a lot of powerful people in Russia.

Assets aren't stranded until the world gets real about cutting emissions, in the meantime the fossil fuel elites will try to keep the fossil fuel game that enriches them going for as long as possible, thinking that they can get off before the others do.

rboyd

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I am more and more coming to the conclusion that China will not accelerate its move away from fossil fuels too much in order to protect Russia, as China needs the Russian military (and military technology) and Russian oil and gas if a hot war breaks out (cutting off Chinese oil and gas imports). The last thing China needs is a declining Russia with internal crises due to an inability to earn the foreign exchange needed to buy all the manufactured goods that Russia doesn't make.

China will be "not too hot" (to hurt Russia) and "not too cold" (to impact green industrial policy and international reputation) in the energy transition. Not a happy conclusion ...

Now, if the shale boom is coming to a real end in the US that would change everything ...

rboyd

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A very good discussion with Noam Chomsky on the lack of action on climate change, a US global dystopia, as well as many other topics.

https://www.truthdig.com/articles/noam-chomsky-america-has-built-a-global-dystopia/

Florifulgurator

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China needs the Russian military (and military technology) and Russian oil and gas if a hot war breaks out (cutting off Chinese oil and gas imports).
I doubt both. China is the least stupid economy on the planet. Unlike Putin's oiligarchs, no fossil fools. It is highly implausible they would make themselves dependent on Russia.

Russian land forces are still quantitatively superior. But then, how is their new miracle tank doing? Can they even manufacture it completely within Russia, let alone in quantity? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T-14_Armata

China's navy is meanwhile superior to Russia's. E.g. Russia's only aircraft carrier currently is not working. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russian_aircraft_carrier_Admiral_Kuznetsov
And that seems the most important strategic point - the South China Sea, where most hydrocarbon imports go through. Russian oil and gas imports is some 15%. Looks like Russia's fossil economy is more dependent on exports than China's modern economy is dependent on Russian imports.

https://armedforces.eu/compare/country_Russia_vs_China
https://www.globalfirepower.com/countries-comparison-detail.asp?form=form&country1=russia&country2=china&Submit=COMPARE
https://www.businessinsider.com/russias-weakened-military-now-surpassed-by-chinas-2018-8
(I take these sources with a grain of salt, of course.)

----------------------
P.S.: The more I look at it, the more me worries: Putin has cornered Russia into a bygone century. He will soon get truely desperate and Trump won't be able to help him out for long.  Last stand of the fossil fools.
« Last Edit: January 15, 2020, 04:30:25 AM by Florifulgurator »
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rboyd

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China IS dependent upon Russia for energy security, and military backup (as well as support for the BRI), for now. Give it another 10 years Russia could easily become a very junior partner.

It takes many years to build up the kind of military knowledge and technology that Russia has, China has only recently become a modern military power. The Russian nuclear umbrella also helps protect China, with the Chinese being able to keep a relatively small nuclear force. China will take what it needs as the senior partner in the relationship, and build its own capabilities with Russian help. The energy links to Russia act as a deterrence to an energy embargo, as they make it easier for China to withstand one.

Over time China becomes less and less dependent upon Russia, and the latter becomes more and more of a Chinese client state unless Putin starts to develop a new non-fossil fuel economy (not a lot of hope of that I think).

PS - Russia has also become a significant food exporter, useful for fulfilling China's growing needs as  its population get richer and eat more meat etc.
« Last Edit: January 15, 2020, 07:42:04 AM by rboyd »

TerryM

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The Russian Federation's economy has done very well under Putin. :)


A decade out is an eternity. Under peaceful conditions Russia's nimble response to rapid global changes speak well for the future.
Russia's debt is miniscule and she has moved her wealth from American Dollars to gold, (which gained 18% in value in the last year). China still stores most of her wealth in American Dollars, and has mountains of debt.


If the Petrodollar holds its value China will be the big winner, and Russia will be a very junior partner. Should the Dollar losses much of her value in the coming decade Russia's gamble will pay dividends & the Sino-Russian partnership will be more equitable.


I'm not convinced that America will keep her weapons holstered as her influence wanes. :'(
Terry
[Edit
If the clathrate high temp superconductors prove viable all predictions are off the table.
[/Edit
« Last Edit: January 17, 2020, 12:22:13 AM by TerryM »

Florifulgurator

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The Russian Federation's economy has done very well under Putin. :)
Not according to the attached charts (made by Google). And it looks like it's due to the oil price (2008/9 2014/15 drops) and not the sanctions.

 
« Last Edit: January 17, 2020, 01:00:32 AM by Florifulgurator »
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NeilT

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PS - Russia has also become a significant food exporter, useful for fulfilling China's growing needs as  its population get richer and eat more meat etc.

This is no surprise to those of us who followed the events leading to the demise of the USSR.

Gorbachev changed the rules to allow strips of land on the edges of the huge collective fields to be farmed for personal profit.  Russia went from food scarcity to a food exporter in a few short years.

Where communist collective had failed, pure self interest thrived.

Now that Russia is being run for profit, there is scope for massive food exports.  Also the proximity of Russia to the warming arctic means that the fields will remain more fertile and less prone to desertification.

When food becomes more important than energy, Russia is well placed.
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Ken Feldman

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The impacts of the Coronavirus in China may expose the economic weakness in the overall Chinese economy that the Government has been struggling to hide for years.  This in turn could result in a shortage of funds for the Belt and Road Initiative which is the most prominent public face of China's geopolitical strategy.

https://oilprice.com/Energy/Energy-General/Brace-For-A-Global-Crisis-In-2020.html

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Brace For A Global Crisis In 2020
By Gregory R. Copley - Feb 04, 2020

The year 2020 could emerge as the start of the era of relative global chaos or major upheaval. It is the era we have been anticipating, as the impact of core population decline meets economic dislocation, and security and structural uncertainty.

Quote
A broad-brush landscape view of 2020 must include at least the following:

The People’s Republic of China and the BRI Framework:

The Communist Party of China (CPC) should be expected to face unprecedented challenge in 2020-21, not only for its control of the economy of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), but to its ability to project the PRC’s physical power in its immediate region, and across its suzerain empire, expressed through the Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) network of states.

The PRC economy has been faltering for several years, and growth in gross domestic product (GDP) figures have only been sustained by artificial construction transactions, which are now becoming unsustainable. It is now estimated that the PRC was in actual economic decline at a time, which will lead to a faltering in its foreign investment and loan capacity to sustain the BRI program.

The BRI concept has become an ideology for the projection of the CPC’s influence, far more than an economic platform, but it is one which has a real financial cost to the PRC and which is expressed in monetary terms. It was created as a de facto ideology to buy strategic space globally when traditional maoist-marxist ideology could not make any meaningful penetration.

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The PRC has extensive foreign exchange holdings and holdings of US debt paper, but these are now beginning to erode as Beijing is forced to now expand its imports of foreign foodstuffs. The reason for the PRC’s total capitulation to the US in the so-called trade war with the signing of “Phase One” of January 15, 2020 was (a) for the PRC to begin to cope with its growing food and economic crises, and (b) to ensure, for US Pres. Donald Trump, that the PRC’s economy would not completely collapse in 2020, the year of pivotal US elections.

So the PRC was already on economic life-support by the time the coronavirus pandemic began to become known by the end of January 2020. It was clear that the CPC was already well aware of the reality that the coronavirus had begun its broad contagion - with the consequent impact on the PRC economy - when it signed the “trade deal” with Pres. Trump.

All of this, coupled with the economic impact of the revolt of Hong Kong against the PRC - effectively removing Hong Kong as one of the key economic contributors to the PRC’s “economic miracle” - meant that the PRC’s already-delicate economic condition was now in an unavoidable and dramatic decline. At the same time, the Hong Kong example meant that Beijing’s steady pressure to dominate the elections in the Republic of China (ROC: Taiwan) collapsed, resulting in a severe loss of prestige for the CPC.

rboyd

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Russia in 2000-2014 repeated what the USSR did from the late 60's to the early 80's, growth powered by increasing oil and gas revenues. The extra oil and gas revenues hid the underlying malaise of the Soviet economy, and allowed the leaders to buy the food, technology and consumer goods that the USSR could not produce rather than deal with the problems.

Same with Russia now, but even worse because it was highly de-industrialized during the 1990s. Russia also has half the population of the USSR but got about 100% of the fossil fuel assets, so fossil fuels are an even larger part of the economy. Wind and solar also provide well under 1% of domestic energy.

Natural gas and food exports bring nowhere near the profits that oil does, so the Russian economy is basically a derivative of the oil price. Their only hope is that they can sell lots to China (fossil fuels, weapons, and food) and have China build some of their factories in Russia, and maybe manage some import substitution. Within a decade China may have leapt up the weapons manufacturing learning curve, and be less dependent on Russian fossil fuels. If fracking in the US has peaked, maybe they get a few more years before ongoing decline sets in. Russia may become to China what Canada is to the US.