The transition from fossil to renewable energy in the EU must be realized faster, says European Commissioner for Climate Frans Timmermans. The Member States of the European Union are still highly dependent on gas and oil from Russia.
Last week, the European Commission was due to present a plan for the transition to renewable energy. But the war in Ukraine had to complement the concept with measures to accelerate the dependence on energy supplies from Russia. One of the proposals is to bring out the construction of wind farms at sea. The full plan will be presented tomorrow.
Delta Plan for the Netherlands
According to Timmermans, more than ever, there is a need for ambitious plans by EU countries, especially the Netherlands. “The Delta Works were also unthinkable once.”
The Netherlands should start with ‘the low-hanging fruit’, says Timmermans. For example, many more solar panels can be laid on roofs, the insulation of houses needs to be improved quickly and more houses can be equipped with heat pumps. “The more energy you produce yourself, the less you depend on others you can‘t trust.”
In addition, the Commission wants to invest heavily in biogas, especially biomethane. It must become a sustainable alternative to natural gas. It is produced from the fermentation of organic matter such as sludge, manure and home and garden waste. The Commission wants 35 billion cubic metres of biomethane to be produced in the EU from 2030.
Gas needs still remain
Nevertheless, it is not realistic to think that EU countries can be completely without gas in a few years. More than 15 percent of the gas consumed in the Netherlands comes from Russia. In countries such as Germany and Italy, that percentage is almost three times higher. That is why it is important that agreements are made with other gas suppliers.
“If we didn’t get gas from Russia tomorrow, we‘ll sing it out for a while. It would be difficult, but we can do that,” says Timmermans. According to the Commissioner, it is especially important that the EU replenishes its gas supplies in time for next winter. The aim is to replenish at least 90 percent of the reserves before 1 October. In addition, new LNG stations are also being built in the EU for extra storage.
In addition, the EU is now consulting with countries such as Egypt, Qatar and the United States to conclude new contracts. “The demand for gas and oil is now very high, so it’s not that easy to find that market now,” says Timmermans. “But the countries we talk to are very willing to make agreements with us about that.”
No more taboos
According to Timmermans, there are no more taboos. Countries should become less dependent on Russian gas at all costs. “I am sure that now Member States are saying: ‘We don’t want to use that gas at all now‘. Then it could be that they will continue with coal or nuclear energy for longer.” If they temporarily fall back on the firing of coal, it does not have to lead those countries to achieve their climate goals, says Timmermans, provided they choose to make it more sustainable at the same time.
The Commission’s plans will not directly lead to lower energy prices. For that, the demand for gas and oil is currently too high. The benefits can only be expected in the long term. Tomorrow, the Commission will issue recommendations for Member States on how to limit the price increases for households and businesses.