The European Union has imposed sanctions on Russia for the past two weeks. Travel ban Alongside other Western countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom, efforts to freeze assets. Although these had an indirect impact on Russia, many said they were not well-prepared and missed one of the most important factors: gas.
Now the EU has announced it Plans to reduce Russia’s gas imports by two-thirds In response to the war in Ukraine. The aim is to significantly reduce Russia’s reliance on natural gas flowing into the block by 2023.
That week, US President Joe Biden announced an immediate ban on Russia’s oil and other energy imports, with the UK phasing out imports by the end of 2022.
Frans Timmermans, Vice President of the EU Green Deal, said:
A decision was made on Tuesday due to concerns that European gas demand might be funding the war in Ukraine.
“When Europe is very dependent [gas] From russia it gives him [Putin] a lot of money. This money is currently being used to transport troops from Russia to the Ukrainian border, “says Kyiv-based Sergius. Extinction Rebellion Ukraine member.
European leaders know that breaking away from fossil fuels is a priority for the next few years when limiting global warming to less than 1.5 ° C compared to pre-industrial levels.
Still, until now, Brock has continued to pay Russia for oil and gas. Non-renewable fuels cause large amounts of toxic air and water pollution and are the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions.
Around it 40% of European oil and gas Imported from Russia, Germany is one of the most trusted EU member states.
In late February, the country announced the cancellation of the € 9.9 billion Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia. This is good environmental news, but it may not hurt Russia so quickly as the pipeline is not yet up and running.
But now it Oil prices have exceeded $ 140 (€ 129) For the first time since 2008, gas imports are set to decline in the coming years, and the government is struggling to find alternative energy sources.
Brussels is stepping up its efforts to rapidly diversify the basket of energy providers, reaching out to other gas exporters such as the United States, Norway, Qatar, Azerbaijan, Algeria, Egypt, Turkey, Japan and South Korea. ..
But is gas the only option?
What is the alternative to Russian gas in Europe?
On Monday, EU Energy Ministers met in Brussels to discuss how to break the dependency.
“We need to be prepared for all possibilities,” France’s Minister of Ecology Transition Barbara Pompiri said in a meeting, saying the EU has enough gas and oil inventories to withstand short-term turmoil. rice field. -Term supply “.
Minister also supports discussions in Ukraine’s energy sector Accelerate the planned link between the Ukrainian power grid and the European power gridIt will make it more independent of Russia.
The crisis shows that moving away from imported fossil fuels is important not only in the fight against climate change, but also as a security issue.
Some alternative options that EU member states must consider are:
LNG (liquefied natural gas)
Gas is a bigger problem than oil in Europe and winter is nearing the end, but there is still demand for imports and Norway, Europe’s second largest supplier after Russia, is already operating at full capacity.
Now that the EU is cutting Russia’s imports, European countries Direct more LNG carriers in that direction, From the United States. LNG is considered the cleanest fossil fuel, but it is still a fossil fuel, so Contributes to irreversible climate damage..
This could close the gap in the short term, experts say Not enough LNG To meet all the energy needs of Europe. The United States is trying to buy non-Russian natural gas from other parts of the world to keep up with demand.
Germany specifically aims to import LNG from Qatar and buy gas from other European countries. Europe’s largest economy could also build two unique LNG terminals in the country.
Italy is under investigation Increased gas supply from Algeria.. Algeria, with its pipeline to Spain and Italy and a large LNG terminal in Skikda, increased oil and gas production by 5% last year.
This pipeline to Italy may even have spare capacity that can be used to increase supply throughout Europe.
Even more controversial, some predict that blocks may have to rely on reactivating the old ones, Abolished coal-fired power plant..
Coal is considered the worst fossil fuel and is the dirtiest of all of them, causing more than 0.3C of 1C rise in global average temperature and the largest cause of global temperature rise. .. Returning to coal is the future of our planet.
Germany’s economic minister, Robert Habeck, said, “In the short term, coal-fired power plants must be on standby and, in some cases, up and running as a precautionary measure and to prepare for the worst.”
European countries have gradually abolished coal infrastructure in recent years as electricity markets are moving towards a more environmentally friendly and carbon-poor future.
But as the energy crisis worsens, “coal remains a key component of the electricity mix, especially when the reliability of other energy sources is questioned,” said Rystad Energy’s Head of Gas and Electricity Market Research. Carlos Torres Diaz says.
If Germany returns to coal, it will violate its own green promise Phased abolition of coal-fired power plants by 2030..
Well, there is some good news. Some European leaders say Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is an opportunity to accelerate the transition to renewable energies, including nuclear power plants.
Germany Speed up the growth of that solar energy Economic Minister Robert Habeck, a key member of the Greens Party, said the faster expansion of renewable energy is the key to reducing Germany’s dependence on Russia’s fossil fuels.
Nuclear power is also a clean possibility. Nuclear power generation in 2021 increased by 6% compared to 2020, making it the largest power generation contribution in Europe since 2014. The current setback is costly for many nuclear power plants to have their lifecycle and rebuild them. Their operating life is only about 40 years.
Imports of clean hydrogen-based fuels are likely to play a role, but pursuing specific hydrogen routes could put Europe at risk for decades due to Russia’s energy dependence. There are also indications. According to Dr. Max Lacy Bernacle, Research Fellow is strengthening the hydrogen program at Just Transitions, Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU), University of Sussex Business School, Russia.
“We see emerging markets for hydrogen as an important commercial opportunity and Russia aims for 20% of global market share of hydrogen By 2030, invest $ 127 million over the next three years World-leading producer We are an exporter of hydrogen energy, “he explains.
But fortunately Australia is also a potential hydrogen supplier.new study South Australia’s world-class renewable energy resources have been found to be competitive in the competition to supply clean hydrogen to Europe through the Port of Rotterdam.
“If you want to stop putting Putin very rich in the long run, you need to invest in renewable energy and do it quickly,” said Frans Timmermans, Vice-President of the European Commission. I am saying. Said In January.
“We must be independent of Russia’s oil, coal and gas. We cannot rely on the suppliers that are explicitly threatening,” said Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission.
Will Biden’s decision to reduce Russia’s imports affect the United States?
“Today we announced that the United States is targeting key executives in the Russian economy, banning all imports of Russia’s oil, gas and energy,” President Joe Biden said in a press conference this week. rice field.
“We will not participate in subsidizing Putin’s war,” he added.
President Biden led the responsibility for a gas import ban and made a decision before the EU did the same, but the impact is not the same in the United States and is a much greater risk to EU countries.
The United States is much less dependent on Russia’s crude oil and gas than Europe, and in fact accounts for only 3 percent of the country’s imports and supplies.
“We import very little oil from Russia than Europeans … it’s a very different situation,” White House spokesman Jen Psaki told reporters.
The ban is what the United States can do. Due to the current exchange rate, “The United States can afford it. [but] It will be much more difficult for the European continent. ” Al Jazeera..
However, Biden’s decision to ban imports could still push prices up and pinch US consumers who are already seeing rising energy prices.