Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Europe: members of the Bloc sound ways to end dependency from russian gas

 The measures are planned to be effective by the end of the year, WELT:

The pressure on the EU states to impose an embargo on Russian energy supplies is increasing. The heads of state and government meeting in Brussels on Thursday will also argue about this issue again. It is very unlikely that they will agree on a gas embargo this week. But the pressure will remain.

The European Commission, the EU's powerful administration, is therefore already preparing for a possible supply freeze for oil and gas from Russia – even in the event that Russia stops supplies of its own accord.

The staff of EU Industry and Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton have drawn up a scenario of how the EU can become independent of gas supplies from Russia by the end of the year. The calculations are exclusive to WELT.

"It's high time we prepared for all eventualities this year," Breton told WELT. “This includes a complete ban on Russian gas supplies and even all other fossil fuels that we get from there. We need to prepare and discuss a zero fossil fuel scenario from Russia.” EU countries also source oil and coal from Russia.

According to the Commission, Russia supplies the EU with 155 billion cubic meters of natural gas every year. The European Commission has already considered in the past how two-thirds of this amount could be replaced by the end of the year. Breton staff have added to this list. The figures give the theoretical possibility of almost completely replacing Russian natural gas.

Not without reason: the Commissioner cares deeply about the interests of companies. In the event of an acute gas shortage, companies that are not system-critical can be cut off from the gas supply - and then in some cases would have to stop production. German companies are already running through similar scenarios.

The plans contain some already known measures. This includes additional imports of liquefied natural gas (LNG), primarily from the USA and Qatar. They could replace 50 billion cubic meters of Russian gas. The big challenge, however, is to route additional supplies to where Russian gas fails.

Spain has many LNG terminals but is currently not connected to the gas network of the rest of the EU. The construction of new terminals in Northern Europe takes several years. A much-discussed option is floating LNG terminals, which can be deployed more quickly. Something like this is planned in Wilhelmshaven in Lower Saxony and could be ready for use by the end of 2023, as State Environment Minister Olaf Lies (SPD) WELT reported.

In addition, deliveries via other existing pipelines are to be increased, for example to Azerbaijan, Algeria and Morocco. They are currently not being fully used or are even idle due to political disputes. In some cases, higher delivery volumes have already been agreed, for example with Norway. According to the Commission's calculations, additional deliveries could replace ten billion cubic meters of Russian gas.

In addition, the authority sees great potential in renewable energies: Planned wind, solar and biogas projects are to be accelerated so that this year even more capacity than planned could go on line. Newly completed biogas plants could replace 3.5 billion cubic meters of Russian gas by the end of the year, new wind turbines 10 billion cubic meters and new solar parks 12.5 billion cubic meters.

At the same time, the authority is focusing on lower gas consumption: Breton calculates that reducing the room temperature by one or two degrees could reduce gas consumption in Europe by 10 billion cubic meters. When other nuclear reactors were shut down in Japan after the Fukushima accident, that would have worked, says the French politician. Energetic refurbishment, which should also be accelerated, will save another four billion cubic meters.

In addition to such largely undisputed measures, the Breton employees have identified savings opportunities that offer far more potential for conflict. Environmentalists and climate protectors in particular are unlikely to be enthusiastic.

Breton proposes that the three German nuclear power plants, which are due to go offline in the next few months, continue to run. The French politician considers this a technically and politically viable option and refers to recent statements by Economics and Climate Minister Robert Habeck. "I heard that the vice chancellor didn't say no to that."

Belgium postponed the planned phase-out of nuclear power over the weekend; there, two power plants that were actually supposed to be shut down are supposed to run for ten years longer. Together, the two Belgian power plants and the three German power plants could replace 12 billion cubic meters of Russian gas, Breton calculated.

Higher production in the Dutch Groningen gas field could replace an additional three billion cubic meters. This is also a proposal with potential for conflict. "You obviously have to be careful, given the risks of earthquakes that could cause that," Breton said. However, he believes that the Netherlands is ready to consider higher funding.

It is also possible to switch from gas to other energy sources when generating electricity. Additional coal firing could replace 20 billion cubic meters of Russian gas. "German coal-fired power plants alone could replace 14 billion cubic meters if they ran at full capacity," says Breton.

Burning heavy oil in power generation could replace another 10 billion cubic meters. However, both options would result in higher CO₂ emissions, and heavy fuel oil in particular is an extremely dirty fuel. Relying more heavily on dirty fuels would also counteract the European Green Deal, which Commission President Ursula von der Leyen wants to uphold.

Commission officials also see potential for savings in industry, which is responsible for a quarter of natural gas consumption. Burning more oxygen instead of natural gas could save three billion cubic meters of gas by the end of 2022, especially in the steel and metals industry and in the manufacture of mineral wool and glass.

Refineries could use heavy oil instead of natural gas to heat some processes. Even switching to biogas, pellets, oil and coal can be considered with the necessary technical adjustments.

No comments:

Post a Comment