(Financial World) Looking for a way out, can the European energy crisis usher in a breakthrough?

  China News Agency, Beijing, May 26 (Liu Wenwen) It has been more than three months since the outbreak of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

In the meantime, Europe has accelerated the process of energy "separation from Russia", and the energy crisis has intensified.

In order to ensure energy security, Europe has to seek energy supply from various sources.

Can Europe save itself successfully?

A new opportunity for Africa?

  In order to get rid of energy dependence on Russia, the EU has sought energy alternatives from the United States, the Middle East and other regions.

Now, it is targeting Africa, which is rich in natural gas reserves.

  German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said when he visited the West African country Senegal a few days ago that Germany hopes to cooperate closely with Senegal to carry out natural gas and renewable energy exploration projects.

  In fact, some European oil and gas giants such as BP, Equinor, Eni, Shell, etc. have recently started to restart or accelerate their natural gas projects in Africa.

  According to research by Norwegian energy consultancy Rystad Energy, Africa's natural gas production is conservatively forecast to peak at 470 billion cubic meters by the end of the 2030s.

  Siva Prasad, senior analyst at Smart Consulting, believes that the existing pipeline infrastructure from North Africa to Europe and the historical LNG supply relationship make Africa a strong alternative market for energy supply in Europe.

Does this mean that Africa will be Europe's energy "savior"?

  not that simple.

Currently, negotiations between Europe and existing North African suppliers are difficult, and there are also many uncertainties in terms of investment, technology, and cost.

  A report released by Smart Consulting pointed out that factors such as high development costs, financing difficulties, and local political instability are the main reasons for dragging down the development of natural gas in Africa.

In addition, the lack of relevant infrastructure such as gas pipelines and LNG terminals in many African countries will also become a major obstacle to the large-scale increase in natural gas production in Africa.

Nuclear power picks up?

  After the Chernobyl accident and the Fukushima nuclear power plant crisis, the world has been debating nuclear power development.

  On the one hand, nuclear power has attracted much attention because it is clean, efficient and high-quality.

The European Atomic Energy Forum (Foratom) called on the European Union to consider increasing its reliance on nuclear power to solve the current energy crisis.

  For Europe, nuclear power takes into account both its energy supply and transformation needs.

According to the World Nuclear Association, the European Union currently relies on nuclear energy for a quarter of its electricity and provides half of its low-carbon electricity.

  In order to solve the gap left by the withdrawal of Russia's energy supply, some European countries have begun to re-consider nuclear power projects.

Recently, the European Commission officially adopted the energy plan called "REPowerEU", which recognizes the role that nuclear energy will play in ensuring the security of the EU's energy supply and emphasizes the importance of coordinated action.

  On the other hand, the safety hazards of nuclear power plants have been criticized.

Once a nuclear power plant leaks, it will cause continuous and irreversible catastrophes.

At the same time, the disposal of nuclear waste is still a worldwide problem.

In addition, due to the system complexity of nuclear power plants, the development of nuclear power means huge research and development, construction and maintenance costs.

  Based on the above reasons, the current development of nuclear power within the EU is quite divided, and it is difficult to adjust.

  A report recently released by relevant agencies pointed out that although the current trend of nuclear energy is picking up, the prospect of nuclear power is not optimistic.

Due to the painful lessons of the nuclear power accident, even if the technology has improved and the energy crisis has intensified, it cannot completely eliminate the concerns of various countries about the safety of nuclear power.

  Coupled with the characteristics of long construction periods, complex approvals, and difficult construction techniques for nuclear power projects, many countries are still cautious in their development in the field of nuclear power. Whether the current nuclear power plan can finally be implemented is still a big question mark.

Energy transition has a long way to go

  After the outbreak of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, with the increasing instability of traditional energy supply, the world has a strong demand to get rid of the constraints of traditional resources such as oil and natural gas.

  The need for transition to clean energy in Europe is more urgent and clear, and Europe is striving for energy independence. The value of renewable energy is increasingly prominent, but its inherent instability is destined to prevent Europe from being able to get rid of the supplement of fossil fuel power generation in the short term.

  Although the "REPowerEU" energy plan emphasizes the importance of energy conservation, energy supply diversification and accelerated promotion of renewable energy, and proposes to reduce the overall target of the EU's "55% carbon reduction" policy portfolio by 2030, the proportion of renewable energy in the previous 40% to 45%, but it is important to note that the European Commission has also acknowledged that existing coal facilities may be in use for "longer than initially expected".

  Currently, Europe is caught in a dilemma of multiple choices.

Whether it is seeking energy alternatives from other countries, restarting nuclear power, or independently developing new energy sources, the EU is faced with internal differences and huge costs.

The road to energy self-rescue is a long way to go.