The European Union has spent the past two weeks imposing sanctions on Russia, from travel ban To freeze assets, along with other Western countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom. And while these factors affected Russia indirectly, many said that the measures did not go far enough – it lost a very important component – gas.
Now the European Union has announced that It plans to reduce Russian gas imports by two thirds In response to the war in Ukraine. The goal is to significantly reduce dependence on Russian natural gas entering the bloc by 2023.
The same week, US President Joe Biden imposed an immediate ban on imports of Russian oil and other energy and the UK said it would phase out imports by the end of 2022.
“It is difficult and bloody, but it is possible that we can go further and faster than we have done before,” said Frans Timmermans, Vice President in charge of the EU Green Deal.
The decision was made on Tuesday after concerns that European gas demand could finance the war in Ukraine.
When Europe depends on it [gas] From Russia give him [Putin] a lot of money. Now this money has been spent on moving troops from Russia to the borders of Ukraine,” says Sergey, who is from Kyiv. Extinction Rebellion Ukraine member.
Leaders in Europe know that moving away from fossil fuels is a priority in the coming years, if we are to limit global warming to less than 1.5°C compared to pre-industrial levels.
Yet, until now, the union has continued to pay Russia for oil and gas – non-renewable fuels that produce massive amounts of toxic air and water pollution and are the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions.
About 40% of oil and gas is in Europe It is imported from Russia and Germany is one of the most dependent countries of the European Union.
In late February, the country announced the cancellation of the €9.9 billion Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia — good news from an environmental standpoint, yet one that may not harm Russia fast enough because the pipeline was not yet operational.
But this is now Oil price exceeded 140 dollars (129 euros) per barrel for the first time since 2008, and gas imports are set to decline in the coming years, governments are striving to find energy alternatives.
Brussels is intensifying its efforts to rapidly diversify the basket of energy providers and is reaching out to other gas exporters such as the United States, Norway, Qatar, Azerbaijan, Algeria, Egypt, Turkey, Japan and South Korea.
But is gas the only option?
What are the alternatives to Russian gas in Europe?
European Union energy ministers met on Monday in Brussels to discuss how to break dependency.
“We have to prepare for all eventualities,” French Environmental Transition Minister Barbara Bombelli said at the session. She said the EU had enough gas and oil stocks to withstand short-term disruptions, “but there is a problem with long-term supplies.”
Ministers also discussed assistance to Ukraine’s energy sector through Acceleration of the planned interconnection of Ukraine’s electricity grid with EuropeThis makes it more independent from Russia.
The crisis shows that moving away from imported fossil fuels is not only important in the fight against climate change, but as a security issue.
Here are some alternative options for EU countries to consider:
LNG (Liquid Natural Gas)
Gas is a bigger problem than oil in Europe, and although winter is approaching, there is still demand for imports. And Norway, the second largest supplier to Europe after Russia, is already operating at full capacity.
Now that the EU has cut Russian imports, European countries may have to Diverting more LNG ships on boardComing from the United States. Although LNG is considered the cleanest of all fossil fuels, it is also considered a fossil fuel. Contributes to irreversible climate damage.
While this may fill a gap in the short term, experts say There is not enough LNG To meet all the energy needs of Europe. In the US they are trying to buy non-Russian natural gas from other parts of the world to keep up with demand.
Germany is specifically looking to import LNG from Qatar and buy gas from other European countries. Europe’s largest economy may also build two of its LNG terminals locally.
Italy looking at Increasing gas supplies from Algeria. Algeria, which has pipelines to Spain and Italy and a large LNG terminal in Skikda, increased oil and gas production last year by 5 percent.
This pipeline to Italy could have spare capacity that could be used to increase supply to Europe as a whole.
The most controversial is that some expect the bloc to resort to revitalizing the old, Coal plants out of service.
Coal is the worst fossil fuel. It’s the dirtiest of them all – responsible for more than 0.3°C of the 1°C increase in average global temperatures – making it the single largest source of global warming. A return to coal would be disastrous for the future of our planet.
“In the short term, it may be as a precaution and to be prepared for the worst, we have to keep the coal plants on standby and maybe even allow them to operate,” German Economy Minister Robert Habeck told Deutschlandfunk Radio.
European countries have been gradually shutting down coal infrastructure in recent years, as the energy market moves toward a greener, less carbon-intensive future.
However, as the energy crisis escalates, “coal remains a critical component of the energy mix, especially when the reliability of other energy sources is in question,” says Carlos Torres Diaz, head of gas and energy markets research at Rystad Energy.
If Germany returns to coal, it will go against its green promise Phasing out coal-fired power plants by 2030.
Now for some good news. Some European leaders say Russia’s invasion of Ukraine presents an opportunity to accelerate the transition to renewable energy sources, including nuclear plants.
Germany aims to Accelerate the growth of solar energy In addition to onshore and offshore wind projects. Economy Minister Robert Habeck, a leading member of the Green Party, said rapid expansion of renewables is key to reducing Germany’s dependence on Russian fossil fuels.
Nuclear power is also a clean possibility. Nuclear power generation rose by 6 per cent in 2021 compared to 2020 and was the largest contributor to electricity generation in Europe since 2014. The setback for now is that many nuclear power plants have reached the end of their life cycle and it is expensive to rebuild them. Its operational life is only about 40 years.
Imports of clean hydrogen-based fuels are also likely to play a role. However, some point out that Europe could be put at risk by Russia’s dependence on energy for another decades if it follows a certain hydrogen path. According to Dr Max Lacey Barnacle, a researcher on fair transitions in the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU) at the University of Sussex Business School, Russia is ramping up its hydrogen-related plans.
“Looking at emerging markets for hydrogen as a vital business opportunity, Russia targets 20% of global hydrogen market share By 2030, with an investment of $127 million over the next three years and ambitions to become Leading product in the world and a source of hydrogen energy,” he explains.
but fortunately, Australia is also a potential hydrogen the supplier. new study It has found that South Australia’s world-class renewable energy resources will give it a competitive advantage in the race to supply Europe with clean hydrogen through the port of Rotterdam.
“If we really want to stop making Putin too rich in the long run, we have to invest in renewables and we need to do that quickly,” said Frans Timmermans, Vice President of the European Commission, He said in january.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen agreed, adding in a statement, “We must become independent of Russian oil, coal and gas. We simply cannot rely on a resource that explicitly threatens us.”
Will Biden’s decision to cut Russian imports affect the United States?
“Today I announce that the United States is targeting the main artery of the Russian economy. We are banning all imports of oil, gas and energy from Russia,” President Joe Biden said this week at a press conference.
“We will not be part of Putin’s war support,” he added.
Although President Biden led the charge on banning gas imports, and made the decision before the European Union did the same, the effect is not the same in the United States. It is a much greater risk for the EU countries.
The United States relies on Russian crude oil and gas to a much lesser degree than Europe. In fact, they make up only 3 percent of the country’s imported supplies.
“We import less oil from Russia than the Europeans,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters. “It’s completely different.”
A ban is something the United States can afford. Given the current exchange rate, “The United States can afford it, [but] Cornelia Mayer, CEO of Mayer Resources, said it would be much more difficult for the European continent Al Jazeera.
However, Biden’s decision to ban imports is still likely to raise prices and pinch American consumers who are already seeing soaring energy prices.
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