The European Union rushes to draw up a $300 billion roadmap to get rid of Russian energy

Brussels (AFP) – The European Union’s executive arm moved on Wednesday to move the 27-nation bloc’s plans to ditch Russian energy amid the Kremlin’s war in Ukraine.By proposing a package worth about 300 billion euros ($315 billion) that would include more efficient use of fuels and a faster roll out of renewable energy.

The European Commission’s investment initiative aims to help 27 EU countries start weaning themselves off Russian fossil fuels this year. The goal is to deprive Russia, the main supplier of oil, natural gas and coal to the European Union, of tens of billions of revenue and bolster EU climate policies.

“We are taking our ambition to another level to make sure we become independent of Russian fossil fuels as quickly as possible,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in Brussels when announcing the package, dubbed REPowerEU.

With no end in sight to the Russian war in Ukraine and destabilizing European energy securityThe European Union is quick to reconcile its geopolitical and climate interests for the coming decades. It comes amid worrying signs that have raised concerns about the energy supplies the European Union depends on And they have no quick alternatives, including Russia which cut off member states Poland and Bulgaria After they refused the request to pay for natural gas in rubles.

The bloc’s rush to abandon Russian energy stems from a combination of voluntary and obligatory actions. Both reflect political discomfort with helping fund the Russian military campaign in a country that neighbors the European Union and wants to join the bloc.

EU ban on coal from Russia Set to start in August, the bloc has pledged to try to cut demand for Russian gas by two-thirds by the end of the year. Meanwhile, an oil embargo imposed on the European Union I hit a roadblock in Hungary and other landlocked countries worrying about the cost of switching to alternative sources.

In an effort to swing Hungary beyond oil phase-out, the REPowerEU package foresees oil investment financing of around €2 billion for member states that rely heavily on Russian oil..

Energy savings and renewable energy sources form the cornerstone of the package, which will be funded primarily through an economic stimulus program set up to help member states weather the recession caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The European Commission has said that the price of completely abandoning Russian fossil fuels by the target date of 2027 is 210 billion euros. Its package includes 56 billion euros for energy efficiency and 86 billion euros for renewables.

Von der Leyen indicated total funding of 72 billion euros in grants and 225 billion euros in loans.

The European Commission has also proposed ways to simplify approval processes in EU countries for renewable energy projects, which can take up to a decade to bypass red tape. The commission said approval times should drop to as little as a year or less.

It has put forward a concrete plan for solar energy, seeking to double PV capacity by 2025 and to advance a gradual commitment to installing solar panels in new buildings.

Simon Tagliabitra, an energy expert at Bruegel Research Center in Brussels, described REPowerEU as a “huge package” whose success will ultimately depend on the political will in the bloc’s national capitals.

“Most of the actions included in the plan require national implementation or strong coordination among member states,” Tagliabitra said. “The extent to which countries really participate will be determined.”

German energy research center Agora Energiewende said the EU plan “pays little attention to concrete initiatives that reduce demand for fossil fuels in the short term.” The opportunity to enhance Europe’s energy security and simultaneously meet Europe’s climate goals is thus missed.”

Matthias Backe, its Europe director, said the group’s research shows rapid expansion of solar and wind parks and the use of low-temperature heat pumps in industry and buildings can be done faster than building new LNG plants or gas infrastructure.

The European Commission’s recommendations on national short-term measures to reduce Russian energy demand coincide with the bloc’s ongoing deliberation since last year on setting more ambitious EU targets for energy efficiency and renewables for 2030.

These targets, which are negotiated by the European Parliament and national governments, are part of the bloc’s commitments to reduce greenhouse gases by 55% by the end of the decade, compared to 1990 emissions, and to be climate neutral by 2050.

Von der Leyen urged European Parliament and national governments to deepen the commission’s proposal in July on a 9% energy efficiency target and a 40% renewable energy target by 2030. She said those two targets should be 13% and 45%, respectively.

Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark plan to build North Sea wind farms To help reduce carbon emissions.

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