Can Europe do without Russian gas?

Can Europe do without Russian gas?
Can Europe do without Russian gas?

In 2021, 40% of EU gas imports came from Russia. At the end of 2023, Russian gas will only represent 8% of EU imports. Russia’s use of energy weapons has threatened the security of gas supplies and pushed energy prices to unprecedented levels.

“We have not forgotten that Putin deliberately used gas as a weapon (…) Many thought we would not have enough energy to get through the winter. But we made it. Because we stayed united and pooled our energy demand and purchases. (…) We took advantage of Europe’s critical mass to lower prices and secure our supply”. (State of the Union Address, September 13, 2023, Ursula von der Leyen)

REPowerEU, a plan to reduce dependence on Russian gas well before 2030

The Commission’s proposals have made it possible to reduce the EU’s dependence on Russian gas by two thirds before the end of 2022, and should allow us to free ourselves from Russian gas from 2027.

To achieve these objectives, the REPowerEU plan is based on three pillars :

  1. Diversify gas supplythanks to an increase in liquefied natural gas (LNG) and pipeline imports from non-Russian suppliers, as well as increased production and import volumes of biomethane and hydrogen.

The 120 billion cubic meters of LNG imported by the EU in 2023 ensured the security of gas supplies for this winter. Nearly half of European LNG imports come from the United States in 2023. In Europe, France remains the leading importer of LNG. Regarding gas imports, Norway, the United States, North Africa and Qatar are the main European partners. The diversification of supply by gas pipelines (Azerbaijan, Egypt, Israel, etc.) will also make it possible to reduce the EU’s energy dependence on Russia. The new EU energy platform allows joint purchases of gas, LNG and hydrogen by pooling demand and coordinating awareness-raising actions with suppliers. Finally, the European storage policy has also been strengthened to reach storage levels of 90% by November 1 of each year. By August 2023, the EU had already reached its target with storage facilities 90% full

REPowerEU also plans the large-scale development of biomethane as the gas of the future. Biomethane production could reach 35 billion m3 per year by 2030.

Added to this is the “Hydrogen Accelerator” initiative which should make it possible to replace between 25 and 50 billion m3 of Russian gas by 2030. The Commission is continuing to develop the regulatory framework in order to lay the foundations for the European hydrogen market. hydrogen and support the development of integrated gas and hydrogen infrastructure, hydrogen storage facilities and port infrastructure. In the Mediterranean and the North Sea, large “hydrogen corridors” will be set up.

  1. Reduce the use of fossil fuels faster by increasing energy savings

The European Commission has proposed raising the binding target for reducing energy consumption from 9% to 13%. The energy savings we make today will help us prepare for the potential challenges of next winter. The cheapest and safest energy is energy that we do not consume. Energy savings must be made in all sectors: energy, buildings, transport.

The Commission has proposed a European plan to reduce gas demand, with a clear objective: to reduce gas consumption in Europe by 15%. Between August 2022 and March 2023, gas demand from member states fell by 18%, even exceeding the target of 15%. In the event of a significant risk of a serious gas shortage or exceptionally high demand, the Commission may trigger, after consulting the Member States, a “Union alert” on security of supply, which would impose a compulsory reduction in the demand for gas from all Member States.

Energy sobriety involves all European stakeholders and citizens. For example, lowering the thermostat by one degree saves 10 billion cubic meters of Russian gas imports.

  1. Massively develop renewable energies

The RePowerEU plan plans to accelerate the deployment of renewable energy. Thus, the binding objective for 2030 in terms of renewable energies is raised to 42.5%, with an ambition to reach 45%. This would bring total production capacities from renewable energies to 1,236 GW by 2030, compared to 511 today.

By accelerating the deployment of rooftop photovoltaic systems by 15 TWh this year, the EU could save an additional 2.5 billion m3 of gas. The EU’s specific solar energy strategy aims to double solar photovoltaic capacity by 2025 and install 600 GW of production capacity by 2030.

Concretely, this translates into a legal obligation for certain categories of buildings to be equipped with solar panels. All new public and commercial buildings larger than 250 square meters must have solar panels by 2026 and all new residential buildings by 2029.

Smart investments

To finance these ambitious reforms and support the implementation of the REPowerEU plan, the EU mobilizes nearly 300 billion euros. €225 billion is already available in the form of loans under the Recovery and Resilience Facility as part of the European recovery plan and around €72 billion will take the form of grants.

With the recovery plan, the EU is already investing massively in energy independence. 228.8 billion euros are invested in reducing demand, in particular through the energy renovation of buildings in the promotion of renewable energies and the development of green hydrogen.

The REPowerEU plan also plans to support manufacturers in the sector, with the launch of a European Alliance for the solar industry and cooperation with industry to increase the manufacturing capacities of electrolysers in Europe.

To know more

Press statement by President von der Leyen on the Commission’s proposals for the RePowerEU plan

Communication on REPowerEU

Questions and answers about REPowerEU

REPowerEU factsheet

Web page dedicated to the European Green Deal

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