• The invasion of Ukraine by Russia has shaken up the energy priorities in the European Union, pushing to get rid of Russian hydrocarbons as quickly as possible.

    In particular gas, of which Russia supplied 45% of our needs in 2021.

  • It is to this challenge that RepowerEU, the strategy presented by the European Commission this Wednesday at midday, must respond.

  • On the one hand, it aims to secure EU hydrocarbon supplies by creating new gas routes.

    On the other hand, it could further accelerate the energy transition in Europe by pushing for the adoption of more ambitious objectives.

“We must ensure our independence from Russian oil, coal and gas,” insisted Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, on March 8.

The invasion of Ukraine by Russia, a few days earlier, upset the priorities of the EU in terms of energy by making it no longer only in search of the affordable and the sustainable, but also of the "safest". ".

This requires, in the current context, to turn away from Russian hydrocarbons.

The challenge is colossal, on gas in particular.

Russia supplied about 45% of the total consumption of this hydrocarbon in the EU last year, and 40% on average in recent years.

Create new gas routes

Can we reduce this share by two-thirds by the end of the year?

And reduce it to zero by 2027?

These are the objectives of the European Commission in “RepowerEu”, the battle plan it is presenting this Wednesday to get out of Russian dependence.

And at the same time further accelerate the European energy transition?

RepowerUE stipulates the imperative to get out of Russian hydrocarbons, but not just hydrocarbons, recalls Neil Makarroff, head of European policies at the Climate Action Network (RAC).

This is the first pillar.

It aims to improve the management of gas stocks within the Twenty-Seven.

The Commission should therefore propose a legislative proposal making it compulsory in the EU to fill underground gas reservoirs to at least 90% of their capacity by 1 October each year.

In parallel, RepowerEU plans to diversify supplies by creating new gas routes, carefully bypassing Russia.

“This would involve creating new pipelines or building the capacity of existing ones,

The fear of being locked up in fossils?

The other track is the creation of new gas terminals along our coasts, allowing access to liquefied natural gas (LNG), transported by boat with the advantage that it can be brought from further afield.

From the United States, Qatar, West Africa, Egypt… “Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, Germany has relaunched two gas terminal projects”, illustrates Thomas Pellerin-Carlin, director of the Energy Center of the Jacques Delors Institute.

Other projects are mentioned.

Including in France, in the port of Le Havre, where the public authorities have asked Total Energies to think about a new floating LNG import terminal, reported

Les Echos

end of March.

“The challenge is to avoid overinvestment in useless infrastructure,” continues Thomas Pellerin-Carlin.

With RepowerEU, the EU can ensure, where possible, that a new terminal can benefit several neighboring countries.

»

"If we add up the diversification projects in the boxes, they would have a minimum overall cost of 6 billion euros and would result in an additional import of 150 billion m³ of gas per year", indicates Neil Makaroff, who refers to the calculation by the Global energy monitor, an NGO that lists fossil energy projects around the world.

These figures are not going in the right direction according to the head of "European policies" at the RAC as for Jean-Baptiste Lebrun, director of the Cler-Réseau for energy transition.

The first points to the heavy carbon footprint of gas imported via these new routes, “especially American shale gas”.

The second evokes “the locking effect: these new infrastructures, planned to last for decades, lock the EU into fossil fuels”.

Raise the ambitions of “Fit for 55”

But RepowerEU cannot be reduced to the sole concern of diversifying gas supplies.

“For the simple and good reason that these new sources will not be enough to fill the Russian gas that the EU imported before”, slip Neil Makaroff and Thomas Pellerin-Carlin.

Therefore, we will have to play on other levers.

The European Commission is targeting two in particular: a further acceleration in the deployment of renewable energies and an increased effort to save energy.

Either the “two other pillars of RepowerEU”, specifies the economist.

RepowerEU is then to be linked to the “Fit for 55”.

This major regulatory package, which the Commission presented in July and which the European Parliament and Council will vote on in the coming weeks, should enable the EU to achieve its new climate objective.

That is a 55% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 compared to 1990. Among the fourteen proposals of "Fit for 55" are already those to accelerate the deployment of renewable energies and to improve the energetic efficiency.

With RepowerEU, Brussels should offer to further raise the ambition on these two aspects.

“The Commission should increase to 45% the target share of renewable energies in the European energy mix in 2030, against 40% currently, explains Thomas Pellerin-Carlin.

On energy efficiency,

we would go from an objective of reducing energy consumption from 9 to 13%.

»

Renewables and energy efficiency, conditions of our freedom?

Admittedly, these new objectives are only suggested by Brussels, and Parliament and the Council are free to integrate them or not in their discussions on “Fit for 55”.

During a press briefing last week, Pascal Canfin, MEP in the Renew Europe group, said he was confident that this ambition would rally a majority in Parliament.

And on the side of the Heads of State of the Twenty-Seven?

Harder to say.

"As much in the first weeks of the conflict, their strategies were mainly focused on finding new sources of hydrocarbon supply, as there is now a rebalancing with the two levers of energy efficiency and renewable energies", observes Thomas Pellerin-Carlin.

The economist explains this by realizing that “gas prices are set to be permanently high” and that “changing sources of hydrocarbon supply does nothing to help our energy sovereignty”.

“It only makes us dependent on other countries which there is no guarantee that they will not be hostile to us one day, he continues.

However, if a head of state can easily cut off the gas, he has no control over solar radiation in Europe or our wind deposits…”

Economy

War in Ukraine: Will the conflict accelerate the energy transition in Europe?

World

War in Ukraine: The G7 ready, in principle, to wean off Russian oil

  • Planet

  • European Union (EU)

  • energy

  • Energetic transition

  • Gas

  • renewable energy

  • Brussels

Keywords: