EU unveils plan to rapidly reduce reliance on Russian fossil fuel

Three-pronged RePowerEU plans will fast forward green transition and focus on saving energy

The European Commission has unveiled details of its €210 billion plan to wean the EU off Russian fossil fuels by 2027, coinciding with a move to quicken its transition to green energy.

The invasion of Ukraine by Russia – Europe's top gas supplier – has prompted the EU to rethink its energy policies amid concerns of supply shocks. Russia supplies 40 per cent of the bloc's gas and 27 per cent of its imported oil.

The commission on Wednesday outlined a three-pronged RePowerEU plan involving a switch to import more gas from countries other than Russia; a faster rollout of renewable energy; and greater efforts to save energy.

The measures include a mix of EU laws, non-binding schemes and recommendations to member states, that are largely in charge of their national energy policies. Taken together, it expects the initiatives to require €210 billion in extra investments by 2027 and €300 billion by 2030 on top of those already planned to meet the bloc’s 2030 climate target.

Investment

“RePowerEU will help us to save more energy, to accelerate the phasing out of fossil fuels and, most importantly, to kickstart investments on a new scale,” said commission president Ursula von der Leyen.

It is proposed to increase the EU’s binding 2030 target for share of renewable energy from 32 to 45 per cent: currently 22 per cent of the energy consumed in the EU is renewable.

While the plan had increased renewable targets, enhanced energy efficiency ambitions and a solar PV rooftop mandate, it failed to offer additional actions to tackle energy poverty, said Dr Bríd Walsh, climate policy coordinator with Friends of the Earth Ireland.

It also focused on increasing imports of non-Russian LNG and pipeline gas while investing billions in new gas import terminals, she added.

The success of the plan would depend on the upgrade and modernisation of Europe's electricity grid backed a pan-European approach to achieve it, said John Fitzgerald, chief executive of the Irish company SuperNode.

He welcomed the commission’s strong call on member states to incentivise electricity grid innovation and to adopt innovation-oriented regulatory frameworks.

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