Russian president Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is sparking a wide-ranging revamping of energy policy in Europe with a bold new objective: to wean the continent off Russian gas — as rapidly and comprehensively as possible — and accelerate Europe’s green energy transition.
In late-night sessions, Europe’s leaders have been drafting a spectrum of crisis strategies not only to pivot to other natural gas suppliers — as the United States, which imports much less gas and oil from Russia than Europe, has vowed to do — but also to switch from gas to electricity where possible, and to scale back gas consumption across key sectors. The European Union says it plans to triple its renewable energy capacity by 2030. Some critics even advocate that Germany suspend its plan to shut down its three remaining nuclear reactors by the end of this year — an unthinkable prospect before the invasion of Ukraine.
Last week, the European Union announced a new energy plan that will, according to a leaked draft, “scale up renewable energy in Europe by mobilising additional investments, removing roadblocks to renewables roll-out, and empowering consumers to play an active role in the energy market.” The strategy, which aims to cut EU dependency on Russian gas by two-thirds this year and completely end reliance on Russian gas supplies “well before 2030,” includes fast-tracked deployment of solar energy and renewable hydrogen, the quick implementation of far-reaching energy-efficiency measures, and the production of 35 billion cubic meters of biogas per year by 2030. European citizens will be called upon too: They are being asked to turn down thermostats by 1 degree C, which could shave about 7 percent off Europe’s gas consumption. [Continue reading…]