The European Union laid out plans to end its reliance on Russian gas in the next few years, in the wake of the invasion of Ukraine that’s roiled energy markets and prompted Moscow to threaten to cut supplies.
Tuesday saw the European Commission outline its strategy for reducing Russia’s imports to two-thirds. Using measures such as tapping new supplies and boosting energy efficiency, the bloc aims to replace flows from its biggest supplier well before 2030—sooner than previous projections, according to a document that will now be discussed by national governments.
According to the report, it is possible that the plan will be extended in order to phase out dependence on Russian oil and coal.
The E.U. The E.U. is intensifying efforts to find alternative sources after decades of dependence on Russian gas. This has led to warnings from many countries that Moscow could use flows to increase its political power. European gas prices have risen to an all-time high due to fears about supply disruptions. However, the challenge will remain for the region to quickly replace large amounts of volume.
For the plan to become reality, it will need action from member states, many of whom were already uncomfortable with the investment required for the commission’s energy-transition plans and are now struggling to contain the political impact of record energy costs.
“We simply cannot rely on a supplier who explicitly threatens us,” Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said. “We need to act now to mitigate the impact of rising energy prices, diversify our gas supply for next winter and accelerate the clean energy transition.”
Late Monday, Russia threatened to cut supply to Europe through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline in its response to sanctions imposed on it for its invasion of Ukraine.
“This represents a clear sign that a cut of Russian gas is not an imaginary threat, but a very real one,” said Simone Tagliapietra, a researcher at the Bruegel think tank in Brussels. “This just provides more impetus to the need to act here.”
It is believed that the E.U. The E.U. has enough gas to last the heating season if there is a sudden disruption in Russian supply.
“We need to replenish our reserves urgently for next year,” said Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson.
The E.U. has taken steps to ensure this. Plans to present by April a proposal that requires existing storage facilities to be full by Oct. 1, each year. A joint procurement of natural gas will be coordinated by the commission.
It proposed raising the transmission fee discount to 100 percent to encourage refill storage, despite high summer prices. The member states can also provide assistance to suppliers by providing guarantees as part of contracts for different.
E.U. The E.U. expects to receive as many as 50 billion cubic metres of LNG each year and as many as 10 billion cubic meters through other supplier pipelines. A push for the Green Deal to speed up its implementation will result in more renewable energy and greater energy savings. This deal is designed to reach climate neutrality before 2050.
“Let’s dash into renewable energy at lightning speed,” E.U. Climate Chief Frans Timmermans said. “Putin’s war in Ukraine demonstrates the urgency of accelerating our clean energy transition.”
The clean shift is being implemented by the E.U. The E.U. is currently discussing legislation to achieve a 2030 target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% compared with 1990 levels. Full implementation of the “Fit for 55” rules would cut E.U. The Commission estimates that gas consumption will drop by 30% in the next decade, which is equivalent to about 100 billion cubic meters.
The measures announced Tuesday include increased renewable gas, faster deployment of solar and wind energy and higher energy savings. The E.U. will benefit from this. It has the potential to virtually replace the Russian gas imports totalling 155 million cubic meters.
Because of the lower savings expected from heat pump installations, the figure for 2022 has been changed to 112 billion from Monday’s draft.
This push could require higher 2030 goals for energy efficiency and renewables.
To shield retail consumers and the smallest businesses from soaring energy prices, the E.U.’s executive arm provided member states with detailed guidance on how to design measures on regulated prices. The E.U.’s executive arm announced temporary plans to provide liquidity support for businesses affected by the crisis. These measures could be funded by member states imposing temporary taxes upon windfall profits from energy companies.
“To address the current emergency, the Commission will look into all possible options for emergency measures to limit the contagion effect of gas prices in electricity prices, such as temporary price limits,” it said in the strategy. “It will consult as a matter of urgency all concerned actors and propose options in the coming weeks.”
—With assistance from Alberto Nardelli