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What Does The EU Need To Do To Wean Itself Off Russian Fossil Fuels?

  • EU countries are racing to replace Russian fossil fuels with renewable energy. 
  • The EU is reportedly considering easing environmental regulations in an attempt to bolster renewable energy projects. 
  • Russia's invasion of Ukraine is speeding up the EU's transition to renewable energy.

According to draft proposals obtained by the Financial Times, the European Union is set to ease environmental regulations to replace Russian fossil fuels with renewable energy and imported hydrogen power. 

The draft calls for the acceleration of wind and solar projects without the need for an environmental impact assessment across the EU's 27 member states. 

"Lengthy and complex administrative procedures are a key barrier for investments in renewables and their related infrastructure," according to the draft. Fast-track permitting in designated "go-to" areas without environmental impact assessment could "result in the occasional killing or disturbance of birds and other protected species," it added.

EU countries continue to import Russian energy despite the US ban. Europe's reliance on Russian imports has pushed lawmakers to propose a ban and find alternative sources. Hungary and Germany have voiced concerns regarding the possibility of the new trade embargo policies because of their high reliance on Russian energy. 

Russia's invasion of Ukraine has sped up the EU's transition to renewable energy. The goal is to reduce emissions by at least half by 2030 and zero carbon emissions by 2050.  

On Tuesday, Frans Timmermans, vice-president of the European Commission for the Green Deal, said imported hydrogen could substitute for natural gas used by Europe's industrial countries, which mainly source natgas from Russia. 

"It's essential not just to reduce our carbon footprint, it's essential to keep our economy competitive. We need a new energy source for difficult to abate sectors. And hydrogen is that energy source," Timmermans said.

He added that the EU could produce 40% of electricity from renewable sources by 2030. FT says the draft will be released next week and could set a much higher target. It calls for a 30% increase in the rate of renewable project construction. 

Related: Kuwait Follows Saudis In Slashing Oil Prices For Asia

"In view of the unprecedented geopolitical situation created by Russia's invasion of Ukraine and the high energy prices, there is a clear need for coordinated and urgent action to accelerate the deployment of renewable energy," the document said.

In a separate draft, the European Commission laid out strict guidelines for green hydrogen via electrolysis because its production includes the use of fossil fuel. Hydrogen can only be considered green if returned as much renewable electricity as it consumes during production. 

As for the loosening of green standards draft to replace Russian fossil fuels, concentrating on wind and solar projects isn't sustainable. The UK found out the hard way last fall when the wind stopped blowing, and its turbines came to a standstill. Here's another problem: What happens when the sun doesn't shine? For the EU not to concentrate on expanding nuclear energy generation seems silly. 

Also, the ability to build massive wind and solar farms takes months, if not years, plus procuring turbines and panels in a world where supply chains are battered could increase project times. 

Europe's transition from Russian fossil fuels isn't going to be smooth. Germany is already warning about a tsunami of bankruptcies if the EU goes ahead with an embargo. 

By Zerohedge.com

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  • Mamdouh Salameh on May 12 2022 said:
    What the EU needs to do is to stop deluding itself that it can wean itself off Russian oil and gas supplies. There is no alternative replacement to Russian oil and gas now and for the foreseeable future.

    Moreover, the EU is deluding itself if it thinks that it can replace Russian fossil fuels with renewable energy and imported hydrogen power. Renewables can’t on their own supply the electricity needs of EU because of their intermittent nature. And whilst it is possible that the EU could produce 40% of electricity from renewable sources by 2030, the other 60% will have to come mainly from natural gas, nuclear energy and to a lesser extent from coal.

    The EU is again deluding itself if it thinks that imported hydrogen could substitute for natural gas used by Europe's industrial countries.

    Whether green, blue or grey, hydrogen is a non-starter. It is more expensive to produce than natural gas. Furthermore, it needs far more energy to produce than it will eventually provide.
    If this is the case, wouldn’t be far more economical to skip the production of hydrogen altogether and use natural gas directly to generate electricity while employing carbon capture technologies to prevent CO2 being released?

    Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
    International Oil Economist
    Visiting Professor of Energy Economics at ESCP Europe Business School, London
  • Lee James on May 13 2022 said:
    No one thought that Ukraine could hold up against the Russian war machine. And few think that Europe can wean itself of Russian fossil fuel. We will see. I detect a fair amount of determination in Europe.

    Most thinking about getting off of Russian oil and gas is about substituting other sources of energy. I think that is a worthy long-term strategy, but Europe will be challenged to pull it off within the next several years.

    I think what we will come to monitor is how much reduction in annual energy use Europe is willing to tolerate. How much is Europe willing to cut out, that is wasteful energy use and not suitably efficient and effective? How much junk possessions or travels are we willing to give up, for the sake of using energy wisely?

    I think some combination of energy substitution and reduced consumption will be needed. Defueling Putin is the fuel for Europeans taking action. It is a new unifying stance for Europe and also for other areas of the world.
  • Peter Griffin on May 14 2022 said:
    The EU has put itself in this position through choosing to rely on imported Russian gas instead of domestic coal and nuclear as it transitions to low carbon and renewable energy. Attempting to get to net zero carbon emissions is noble but it should never have come at the expense of national security and put them in the pocket of a tyrant who fancies himself the Tsar of a new Russian Empire. Germany closing its nuclear reactors was the acme of stupidity, nuclear is even lower emissions than gas and cannot be switched off at will by Putin.
    The only way through the current mess they have created without continuing to finance Putin's butchery of civilians and without destroying their economies is to institute civilian rationing of gas and electricity to allow industry to get enough to continue operating. This will be essential while renewables, new nuclear reactors and if possible, stop gap coal gas plants are built out. In summary, reducing the nation's greenhouse gas emissions is noble, but in this dangerous and wicked World we live in, energy security must come first and foremost.

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