bneGREEN: EU’s Green Deal plans could replace 50 bcm of Russian gas imports

bneGREEN: EU’s Green Deal plans could replace 50 bcm of Russian gas imports
EU gas imports from Russia / IEA
By By Richard Lockhart in Edinburgh March 4, 2022

The International Energy Agency has outlined how the EU could reduce its gas imports from Russia by one third within a year by boosting green energy and reducing consumption.

The IEA said in a statement that the EU could replace 50bn cubic metres of its 155 bcm of Russian gas imports while supporting energy security and affordability. The measures are consistent with and indeed would carry forward the European Green Deal.

The plans come as EU Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson said that the EU would publish proposals next week on how to make the EU independent from Russian gas as soon as possible.

“Reducing our dependence on Russian gas is a strategic imperative for the European Union. In recent years, we have already significantly diversified our supply, building LNG terminals and new interconnectors. But Russia’s attack on Ukraine is a watershed moment. Next week, the Commission will propose a pathway for Europe to become independent from Russian gas as soon as possible,” said Simson.

“The IEA’s analysis outlines a number of concrete steps we can take towards that goal. It is a very timely and valuable contribution to our work,” she added.

The 10-Point Plan involves refusing to sign any more gas import contracts with Russian suppliers, switching to green sources of energy and taking measures to increase energy efficiency and reduce consumption. Reducing space heating by 1C is a major component.

The proposed measures are fully consistent with the EU’s European Green Deal and its Fit for 55 package, paving the way for further emissions reductions in the years to come.

“Nobody is under any illusions anymore. Russia’s use of its natural gas resources as an economic and political weapon shows Europe needs to act quickly to be ready to face considerable uncertainty over Russian gas supplies next winter,” said IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol.

“The IEA’s 10-Point Plan provides practical steps to cut Europe’s reliance on Russian gas imports by over a third within a year while supporting the shift to clean energy in a secure and affordable way. Europe needs to rapidly reduce the dominant role of Russia in its energy markets and ramp up the alternatives as quickly as possible.”

The major political action in the plan is not signing any new gas contracts with Russia, while maximising gas supplies from other sources.

The plan also calls for accelerating the deployment of solar and wind, expanding nuclear and ramping up energy efficiency measures in homes and businesses.

The plans could also provide enough gas, up to 13 bcm, to set a minimum amount of gas to refill European gas storage facilities in 2022. This would mean that 63 bcm of Russian gas imports could be replaced.

Stepping up energy efficiency measures and accelerating renewables are key elements of the IEA’s Roadmap to Net Zero by 2050.

The IEA warned that any short-term fixes to reducing Russian gas supply, such as increased use of Europe’s coal-fired fleet or using alternative fuels such as oil within existing gas-fired power plants, would come with significant trade-offs and were not included in its proposals.

Simply put, the IEA argued that there was no need to turn to coal in the short term.

The IEA warned that reducing reliance on Russian gas would require a concerted and sustained policy effort across multiple sectors, alongside strong international dialogue on energy markets and security.

Strengthened international collaboration with alternative pipeline and LNG exporters – and with other major gas importers and consumers – will be critical.

Clear communication between governments, industry and consumers is also an essential element for successful implementation. As the world’s leading energy authority, the IEA will continue to serve as a focal point for global dialogue on how to ensure a secure and sustainable energy future.

In terms of numbers, the plans said that the most effective measure would be using alternative gas resources, such as LNG and pipeline imports from Central Asia, Africa and Europe’s own supply. This would replace 30 bcm per year. Next was turning the heating down by 1C, which would save 10 bcm per year. Bioenergy and nuclear could replace 13 bcm per year, while wind and solar could replace 6 bcm per year.

Barbara Pompili, Minister for Ecological Transition of France, which currently holds the EU Presidency, said: “More than ever, getting rid of Russian fossil fuels and of fossil fuels in general is essential. What is at stake is both the need to accelerate the fight against climate change, and, as we can see now, the short-term energy security of the European continent. The 10-Point Plan proposed by the IEA today will enrich our thinking. We will look at these proposals in detail, as the French President announced yesterday a broad resilience plan for France. As part of this plan, my administration is working on a set of measures to ensure the robustness of our energy system, which will certainly echo the propositions of the IEA.”