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EU Presents Plan to Slash Russian Gas Imports

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The EU has presented a plan to cut its dependence on Russian gas imports by two-thirds by the end of this year as it responds to the energy crisis triggered by the war in Ukraine.

The European Commission says the EU can replace 100 billion cubic meters of Russian gas this year by increasing imports of pipeline gas and LNG from other countries as well as increasing its use of biomethane and renewable hydrogen.

“This will end our overdependency and give us much needed room to maneuver,” European Green Deal chief Frans Timmermans told reporters on Tuesday.

“It’s hard, bloody hard, but it’s possible if we’re willing to go further and faster than we’ve done before.”

Brussels believes it can stop importing Russian gas altogether by the end of the decade.

But that will be a heavy lift, given that Russia accounted for 45% of the EU’s total gas imports last year, up from around 40% in previous years.

Renewable Power and Efficiency

The plan to wean Europe away from Russian gas — dubbed REPowerEU — also seeks to accelerate expansion of renewable power capacity and boost energy efficiency measures.

The commission believes the EU can replace 60 Bcm of Russian gas with 50 Bcm of additional LNG and 10 Bcm of additional pipeline gas from other countries by the end of 2022 with biomethane also contributing 3.5 Bcm.

The plan would have to be approved and implemented by the bloc’s 27 member states.

The commission also plans to issue a legislative proposal by April to set a minimum gas storage filling obligation of 90% by Oct. 1 of each year.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) had said last week that the EU could replace 30 Bcm/yr of Russian gas by increasing pipeline gas and LNG imports from other countries.

The IEA also said that with additional measures such as an accelerated expansion of renewables, greater use of nuclear power and ramping up energy efficiency measures, the EU could reduce Russian gas imports by some 50 Bcm/yr.

The commission estimates that full implementation of the bloc’s “Fit For 55” plans would reduce annual fossil fuel consumption 30% by 2030 — equivalent to 100 Bcm of gas.

Biomethane and Hydrogen

The EU also wants to double production of biomethane — gas made from agricultural waste and residues — to 35 Bcm by 2030.

It also plans a hydrogen accelerator program to make an additional 15 million tons of renewable hydrogen available by 2030 on top of the 5 million tons already planned. It says this could replace 25-50 Bcm/yr of imported Russian gas.

Of the 15 million tons of renewable hydrogen, 10 million would be imported and the remaining 5 million tons would be produced within the EU.

Some 38 Bcm/yr of gas could also be replaced by renewable power production and energy efficiency measures, it estimates.

As for renewables, the commission wants output from rooftop solar power systems to increase by 15 terawatt hours this year, which could save an additional 2.5 Bcm of gas.

It has also proposed installing 10 million heat pumps over the next five years to reduce the amount of gas burned to heat buildings.

Topics:
Gas Supply, LNG Supply, Low-Carbon Policy, Nuclear, Renewable Electricity , Hydrogen, Military Conflict
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