- EU can bring down its reliance on natural gas from Russia with a 10-point plan, recommends the IEA
- Measures suggested include, efforts towards faster deployment of wind and solar energy projects
- Governments can support renewables with a concerted policy effort, accelerating permitting process and digitalizing applications, among other steps
Faster deployment of new wind & solar energy projects in the European Union (EU) in 2022 among other measures that need to be implemented within this year could bring down the block’s reliance on gas imports from Russia by over 1/3rd, says the International Energy Agency (IEA).
The agency counts EU to have imported natural gas from Russia to account for almost 40% of its total gas consumption. Total imports from Russia equaled around 45% of the block’s gas imports in 2021, in the form of a total of 140 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas by pipeline and 15 bcm as liquefied natural gas (LNG).
Implementing a 10-point plan suggested by the agency can help bring down this reliance on Russian gas imports by more than 50 bcm within a year. ‘Accelerating investment in clean and efficient technologies is at the heart of the solution’ stresses the agency.
“In 2022, record additions of solar PV and wind power capacity and a return to average weather conditions are already expected to increase the EU’s output from these renewable sources by over 100 TWh, a rise of more than 15% compared with 2021,” states the IEA.
Faster deployment of rooftop solar can be encouraged through a short-term grant program covering 20% of installation costs which can double the pace of investment at a cost of around €3 billion, but also increase annual output from the systems by up to 15 TWh.
The agency also bats for a ‘concerted policy effort’ to fast track further renewable energy capacity additions to deliver another 20 TWh in 2023, mostly utility scale wind and solar. It means their commissioning can be preponed by clearing permitting process and handling other delays.
“This includes clarifying and simplifying responsibilities among various permitting bodies, building up administrative capacity, setting clear deadlines for the permitting process, and digitalizing applications,” it adds which will also speed up the system for future.
The IEA believes an additional 35 TWh of new renewable energy generation can be brought online over the next year with these efforts, ‘over and above’ the already anticipated growth. It would lower gas use by 6 bcm.
The measures in the 10-point plan can be viewed on the IEA’s website.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2021 has not only saddened and outraged the world, but also endangered EU’s energy security by spiking natural gas prices and threatened its supply. Investing in alternative energy sources, primarily renewables that don’t take too much time to install, such as solar, is a crucial way for the region to overcome the challenge.
Germany, for instance, which is targeting 140 new solar by 2030, has said it will speed up wind and solar energy deployment with the Economy Minister Robert Habeck promising to quickly clear Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG) to bring it into effect by July 1, 2022. Through the revised EEG Act, the country aims to launch 20 GW annual solar tenders by 2028, till 2035, according to a report by Reuters.