German Chancellor Olaf Scholz recently announced the suspension of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. It was part of an ongoing response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Nord Stream 2 was set to run under the Baltic Sea, taking gas from the Russian coast to Lubmin, Germany. It was finished in 2021 and only awaiting certification.
However, its future remains uncertain. That development could cause a subsequent rise in the use of renewable energy.
European Policymakers Plan a Renewables Push
The European Union (EU) is heavily dependent on Russia for its natural gas. That reality limits the punitive responses the region can have against further Russian aggression toward Ukraine. However, the European Commission will reportedly soon unveil a strategy to permanently break the ties between Europe and the Russian gas supply.
That’s a promising, but not immediate, fix. It will take years to reach the goal. However, one of the primary aims is to eventually make Europe more reliant on renewables. That’ll push the continent closer to energy independence. Plans center on a 40% reduction in fossil fuels by 2030, which is significant since about 40% of the EU’s natural gas currently comes from Russia.
Erin Sikorsky directs the Center for Climate and Security in Washington, D.C. She said, “There’s been a lot of concern about dependence on Russian [natural] gas and whether that inhibits countries’ ability to stand up to Russia. The more that countries can wean themselves off oil and gas and move toward renewables, the more independence they have in terms of action.”
Putin Ally Expects Gas Prices to Soar Due to Pipeline Halt
Numerous aspects can make oil prices fluctuate. They went from $25 to $150 per barrel between 2000-2008. That occurred due to increased demand from countries like India, China, Russia and Brazil.
The Nord Stream 2 suspension happened due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Dmitry Medvedev, who was Russia’s former president and now supports President Putin as a member of Russia’s Security Council, believes Europeans will soon see massive increases in what they pay for gas.
Medvedev took to Twitter and said, “Welcome to the brave new world where Europeans are very soon going to pay 2.000 euros for 1,000 cubic meters of natural gas.” As of Feb. 22, 2022, when he posted the message, European natural gas traded at €79 per megawatt-hour, or an 8.9% increase over the previous day. That was the equivalent of approximately €830 per 1,000 cubic meters.
High gas prices could put pressure on Europe’s decision-makers. Even if a shift to more renewables will not happen quickly, laying the groundwork now is arguably better than choosing idleness.
Analysts Say Previous EU Renewables Investments Too Weak
Another aspect energy analysts have recently brought up is that the EU was previously not aggressive enough when deciding how and when to transition to renewable energy. Some experts pointed out that energy ministers attending the G7 summit had demanded an increase in renewables investments after 2014’s Crimea occupation. However, that did not happen and commitments to renewable energy slowed in the European Union.
Peter Sobotka is the founder and CEO of Corinex. His company specializes in making the energy distribution networks throughout Europe more efficient. He recently commented on the emerging situation in Russia and Ukraine.
“Much the same way the 1970s OPEC crisis sparked investment into renewable energy and set forth new legislation mandating national fuel efficiency standards, this crisis may force Europe to invest at a much faster pace into distributed energy resources, renewables and demand-response technologies to secure its energy future,” Sobotka said.
The demand-response technology he refers to is already used in many European countries and elsewhere. It encourages customers to use more energy at off-peak times. It’s too early to know how seriously the EU will take the need to invest in more renewables this time. However, at least there’s discussion about moving in that direction as quickly as possible.
A Much-Needed Change
People were aware that the world needed to shift away from fossil fuels as swiftly as possible well before the Russia-Ukraine conflict reached its current heightened phase. Even though putting more effort behind the switch will take time, it’s a necessary move that reduces the dependence on energy imports and could help society look forward to a more sustainable future.
See more posts from Jane Marsh at environment.co
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