EU wants to end energy imports from Russia

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The plan is called “REPower EU” and aims to end dependence on Russian energy by 2027. The EU relies on savings, new export countries and more green energy. She wants to invest up to 300 billion euros.

< p>It is the war in Ukraine that has forced the EU Commission to work out a radical restructuring of Europe's energy supply within weeks. “Putin's war severely disrupted the global energy market” and showed how dependent we are on fossil energy imports and how vulnerable that makes us, explained EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. By 2027, the European Union should therefore phase out all energy imports largely end Russia. By the end of the decade, the EU wants to invest up to 300 billion euros in this. 

A new energy mix – fast

The plan consists of the existing climate protection measures of the Fit for 55 program and new proposals that are specifically aimed at replacing fossil fuels from Russia. It rests on three pillars: savings, imports from other countries and faster adoption of renewable energy.

As Lithuania is the first EU country to stop all Russian energy imports and relies on liquid gas from other countries

The energy mix is ​​set to change more quickly than planned, with the share of renewables increasing to 45 percent by the end of the decade and energy efficiency increasing by 13 percent. “It is more urgent than ever for the EU to become the master of its own destiny, strengthen its resilience and sovereignty and continue its global leadership in tackling the climate crisis,” said Climate Commissioner Frans Timmermans.

However, there could be a temporary increase in emissions if more coal is initially used to generate electricity in order to get off Russian gas more quickly. By the end of the year, this dependency could be reduced by two-thirds and no more gas could be imported from Russia in around three years, according to EU experts. However, Frans Timmermans does not believe that this plan will cause climate damage because the simultaneous acceleration in the expansion of renewable energies will restore the balance in emissions.

In the short term, the move away from Russian energy is to be facilitated by a European purchasing platform, with which the member countries can jointly import liquid gas from the USA, Canada or other countries with long-term supply contracts. This could serve both to lower prices and to compensate for fluctuations in the energy market. “We have to be honest,” said Timmermans. Russian gas cannot be replaced immediately by renewable energy, so it must first be replaced worldwide  find.

This part of the plan also includes quickly building missing pipeline links between EU countries, such as between Spain and France, and pushing ahead with the expansion of LGN ports and platforms, such as in Poland and Greece. Around ten billion euros are to be invested in this in the short term and another two billion euros are to be used to replace Russian oil in the Eastern European countries, which are almost completely dependent on it. This applies to the Czech Republic, Slovakia, but especially Hungary, which is still blocking the planned EU oil embargo because it has declared the aid from Brussels to be insufficient. The last demands from Budapest amounted to tens of billions.

Solar system like on the roof of the town hall of Freiburg should be mandatory for new buildings everywhere

Turbo for the “Green Deal”

The expansion of wind and solar energy and the conversion to hydrogen should now be pushed ahead as quickly as possible. For example, the EU Commission proposes making solar roofs compulsory for all new buildings. However, Brussels sees the most important lever here in accelerating the approval process. According to EU experts, they currently last up to nine years for wind turbines, so there is not that much time left. The procedures must be radically accelerated, for example by classifying them as “plants in the public interest”.

This leads to criticism from environmental organizations. The BUND, for example, considers the REPower project to be the right step, but “environmental and nature conservation rights should not be de facto abolished and citizen participation weakened” in the expansion of renewables. Greenpeace was also extremely critical, because the Commission is banking on replacing dirty fossil fuels from Russia with those from other supplier countries in the short term.

The conversion of the European economy towards renewable energies is to be financed with 210 billion euros by 2027. The money is to come primarily from unused loans from the EU reconstruction fund, from emissions trading and from reallocations, for example from the EU cohesion fund.

The plans were mostly well received in the European Parliament. “With this initiative, the expansion of renewables is the only way out of Russia's dependence at the center of European ambitions. The plans are an important step in countering the current developments in the energy sector and the Russian war of aggression,” explains Jens Geier for the Social Democrats . Rasmus Andresen for the Greens welcomes the plans, but asks the question of financing: “We need an EU future fund that will ensure the financing of the proposed measures.” The member countries should not torpedo the goals and their financing.  They still have to approve the Commission's plan, as does the EP.

Politically not always easy – the EU temporarily needs new partners for the supply of oil and gas

New EU energy policy

The REPower package will not only fundamentally change the European economy and energy consumption, it will also redefine relations with its neighbors and the EU's global political priorities, says Susi Dennison from the think tank ECFR (European Council on Foreign Relations). On the one hand, the reduction of fossil energy will have a major impact on the global market, on the other hand, a greener Europe will become more dependent on other products and materials such as rare earths from China for battery production. This requires a robust foreign policy strategy and a new concept of energy security.

In this context, the EU Commission is calling for the promotion of new technologies and the construction of solar cells in Europe, for example, in order not to become dependent on exports again.

The package also includes proposals for a temporary cap on energy prices for consumers in the EU, the introduction of a windfall tax for energy companies and other measures to socially absorb price developments. And experts from the EU Commission also conceded that despite all the planned countermeasures, “a difficult winter could be ahead”.

Thousands of new turbines in the North Sea are to generate energy for all of Northern Europe

Fresh wind from the North Sea

In order to show the REPower project in practice, a summit meeting of the heads of government from Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and Denmark with industry representatives took place on Wednesday in Esbjerg, Denmark, to emphasize the potential of the North Sea as a green energy source. After years of discussion, in view of the war in Ukraine, the expansion of wind energy in the north will now really be advanced, confirmed Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte. 

Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz also emphasized that it was no longer about declarations , but an “Action Guide for what we need to do now and we're going to start doing it”. The plan is to increase offshore wind energy capacity tenfold by 2050 and increase it to 150 gigawatts. That means building 4000-5000 new turbines in this decade. This could supply more than 200 million European households and make the North Sea the energy center for Europe.

“We have the sea, the wind, the companies, the private investments and the political will,” added the Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen added that the task now is to start as soon as possible, because the war in Ukraine means that Europe has no more time to lose.