Accelerating clean energy avoids fossil lock-in
As organisations, we stand with the people of Ukraine in their suffering and defence against the senseless aggression by the Russian government. Its decision to invade Ukraine puts into sharp contrast the deep entanglement between energy, security and geopolitics. Now more than ever, the European Union needs unity and resolve in its response and a focus on resilience in the face of interlinking crises.
This briefing identifies the indispensable role clean energy solutions play in rapidly ending the EU’s reliance on fossil gas imports from Russia.
- Clean energy and energy efficiency can replace two-thirds of Russian gas imports by 2025. Russian gas imports can be cut by 66% by delivering the EU’s Fit for 55 package and accelerating the deployment of renewable electricity, energy efficiency and electrification. This is equivalent to a reduction of 101 billion cubic meters (bcm). An urgent uplift in policy is now required to achieve the necessary level of implementation.
- New gas import infrastructure is not required. Security of supply and reduction of Russian gas dependence does not require the construction of new EU gas import infrastructure such as LNG terminals. Alternatively sourcing 51 bcm of gas imports via existing assets is sufficient.
- Coal power does not need to be extended. The above measures would enable the EU to achieve the necessary decrease in fossil gas demand without slowing the decline of coal-fired electricity generation.
Key policy recommendations:
- Policy: Make investments in energy efficiency an energy security priority and increase the ambition of and fast track key renewable energy and efficiency policy in the EU “Fit for 55” package2. Identify latent reduction potential that can be fast tracked in line with climate targets, in particular in industrial end use of gas, inefficiencies in gas use (transformation losses, methane leakage), and through electrification of end-uses.
- Support: Support the roll out of renewables and electrification with investment programmes, administrative streamlining and a better market for demand side flexibility as well as long-term contracts. Clarify financial resources available to clean energy solutions under REPowerEU. Ensure that recovery funding allocated for clean energy is used to that effect.
- Capacity: Put in place capacity to monitor and respond to low carbon supply chain risks and scale skilled workforce. Put in place European Commission capacity for a whole economy approach to driving and monitoring progress. Ensure equity in the energy response.
Counterproductive policies should be identified and tackled. Incentives that currently deepen or perpetuate gas consumption need to be replaced with investment support for clean heating. It is of paramount importance to avoid infrastructure or contractual gas lock-in, as the “substitution” effect is expected to decline sharply post 2025.
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