The devastating war in Ukraine has dramatically increased the need for energy independence in the European Union, which today announced a plan to reduce its reliance on Russian gas. This will require more use of fossil fuels in the short term, but long-term should accelerate the switch to renewables.
Amidst the horrifying war in Ukraine and the likely escalation of sanctions, European governments are rushing to find ways to reduce their dependence on Russian gas, through reopening or delaying closure of coal plants in Europe, and finding other sources of gas. Near-term, emissions and costs will rise as a result.
Simultaneously, countries and companies are looking for ways to mitigate their exposure to higher oil and gas prices through greater efficiency, more use of lower-cost alternatives such as renewables and investment in nuclear.
‘The wind and sun belong to no one’ German economy minister and Green Party member Robert Habeck noted recently.
The International Energy Agency last week launched a 10-point plan on how to reduce reliance on Russian gas, advocating measures such as rerouting to other gas suppliers, increasing gas storage, accelerating wind and solar development, maximising existing generation from bioenergy and nuclear power, and speeding up the rollout of heat pumps to replace gas boilers. And today, the EU announced a plan for achieving energy independence “well before 2030” through greater use of LNG and energy storage, and swifter adoption of renewables.
In the long term, therefore, we expect the increased emphasis on energy independence, in addition to the structural move towards ‘net zero’, to accelerate the energy transition. Whilst emissions likely to rise in the near term.