In early March the EU announced its plans to slash dependence on Russian gas and oil by two-thirds, by the end of 2022. Although difficult to be put into practice, the sudden push to reduce Europe’s dependence on Russia could trigger a paradigm shift to clean energy sources that might be quickly scaled up. Will war fast-track the energy transition in the EU? Or will coal and nuclear energy prevail? Let’s see what experts have mentioned in this regard.
Will the war in Ukraine fast-track the energy transition?
“This is a complicated question and it depends on the extent and duration of the war. The bottom line is that improving energy security does not come at the cost of decarbonisation and there is likely to be a small acceleration in Europe’s energy transition. This feature describes the provisional view of how the ongoing war is likely to affect Europe’s energy transition in the short, medium, and long term. About a third of Europe’s gas demand is used for cooking and heating buildings, and another third for electricity production. Almost twenty percent is used by the manufacturing industry, and the rest by the petrochemical industry and by the gas industry itself during production. European politicians are determined to reduce the EU’s dependence on Russian gas by two-thirds this year. Replacement will be painful and costly, with increased LNG imports taking center stage. Other effects of war that are not related to energy security, such as reduced global trade and cooperation, such as the realignment of global logistics to deal with a growing food crisis and shortages of critical minerals, could also slow down the energy transition.”
“The Russian invasion of Ukraine has disrupted both global supply chains and energy prices, affecting large economies but also small island states in the Caribbean and the Pacific. But it has been particularly pernicious for the EU. In response, a long-standing weakness of the EU’s Foreign and Security Policy -the energy dependence- is finally being addressed, now under a green focus. With the adoption of “REPowerEU”, a plan to make Europe independent from Russian fossil fuels well before 2030 -and a booster of the EU Green Deal-, the EU is setting the scene for an accelerated boost of the energy transition. Structural measures such as expanding renewables, electrifying heating through the rollout of heat pumps, increasing the short-term targets on green hydrogen, and addressing the energy efficiency of buildings will have to be rolled out at a large scale. There are rumors about launching a “Desertec reloaded”, -a rebranded version of the failed landmark initiative- to push for green hydrogen to scale up. All in all, such a historic and vast transformation of the EU energy system will require trillions of euros in investments, a fair and just deployment, and a wide social acceptance. Let’s hope that all this will play out.”
“It’s a shame that the shift from fossils to renewables and greener energy may be a result not of environmentalists’ calls during the past tens of years, but because of a war. It seems that calls for energy independence is not appropriate enough to urge an immediate transition to more reliance on renewable and clean energy, whether in Europe or in the rest of the world, mainly because this push has political dimensions that may hinder or weaken the momentum required to put necessary policies of renewable energy into practice and adopt the required budgets to achieve them.”
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