Accelerating Europe’s deployment of clean power from wind, solar and geothermal heat must be the continent’s priority, as it battles to ease Russia’s grip on its gas supplies, a leading EU commissioner said today.
As Putin’s war in Ukraine pushed Brent crude above $ 120 a barrel this morning, – a rise of 20% in only one week – , Frans Timmermans, first vice president of the European Commission, refused to rule out a reversal by Germany, the block’s biggest economy, in its policies to shutter coal-fired and nuclear power.
The EU chief was speaking on BBC Radio 4’s “Today” programme, in advance of next week’s expected announcement by EU on the bloc’s new energy policy, revised in the light of Putin’s unprovoked onslaught on free Ukraine.
“In this unprecedented situation, there must be no taboos”, said the commissioner.
“In the short term, we are being threatened and there is a price to pay. The secret is to ensure that that price is met in an equitable way, and which does not slow the deployment of clean renewables.“
Across its 27 remaining members, continental Europe is 60% reliant on imports of gas from now-sanctioned Russian players such as Rosneft and Gazprom.
The bloc’s biggest economy Germany takes around 65% of its gas from Russia. In former Soviet such as Latvia and Estonia, the reliance is 100%.
“Given a correct revision towards renewables, I am confident we can find that soon Russia will be depending on us, and not the other way round”, the commissioner told the BBC.
Timmermans was speaking after EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told a security conference in Munich two weeks ago; “We are doubling down on renewables. This will increase Europe’s strategic independence on energy”.
Quit hydrocarbons now, urges Emma Watson
Expected in next week’s new energy strategy proposed by Brussels are, per Reuters:-
- a requirement on energy companies registered in the EU to fill their storage tanks with natural gas this summer, and
- enforcement of a 40% reduction in fossil fuel use by 2030, and
Approval from a majority of the 27 will be needed. Some strongly oppose new legal goals for renewables and would prefer non-binding milestones, or else nothing at all.
The EU overshot its 20% target two years ago for renewables, securing 22.1% of its power from low carbon sources.
With the Nordstream2 pipeline suspended indefinitely, Germany was advancing construction of two new LNG facilities, Timmermans noted.
In addition, the Energyst understands Belgian green gas company Tree Energy Solutions is fast tracking by two years a €25 Billion hydrogen import terminal at Wilhelmshaven, on a tributary of the Rhine The terminal now also plans to accommodate LNG as an intermediate energy source.
“The UK is following the EU’s lead”, Timmermans claimed when questioned on the strength of sanctions against Putin’s oligarchs, including Gazprom boss Igor Sechin and Alexei Miller at Rosneft,
“Even parties who accept money from oligarchs have to accept that the situation has changed, and that we need to change course”, he said.
Meanwhile Edinburgh has become the latest city to join the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty, an alliance of local authorities worldwide dedicated to phasing out use or new development of hydrocarbons. Paris, Amsterdam, Milwaukee and the London borough of Lambeth are among 39 towns and cities claimed as signed up. “Harry Potter” star Emma Watson is the alliance’s ambassador.