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Delivering EU energy security through climate action

Energy systems
| 26.07.2022

This report draws on insights and analysis by a number of experts to consider whether and how the EU would be able to deal with a total cut-off from Russian gas supplies going into the winter of 2022 and out to 2025 without jeopardizing medium-term energy and climate targets. The report covers the nature of the EU’s security of supply challenge, an assessment of the levers which can address this challenge in the short- and mid-term, and recommendations on specific actions for European states to take.

The EU is facing an energy security challenge on a level not seen before. Short-term measures currently being discussed include securing additional gas imports, temporarily increasing the usage of other fossil fuels such as coal, and rapidly scaling up consumer-oriented demand side actions.

The analyses conducted confirm that there is a path for Europe to secure its energy supply over the next winters and into 2025, and to do so in conformity with its medium-term climate commitments. The key to this lies in the EU rapidly and fully implementing two recently announced programmes (‘Fit for 55’ and ‘REPowerEU’) and depends on European countries launching programmes supporting additional energy security levers. These levers include a mix of aggressive deployment of renewables, energy efficiency, and electrification, as well as a temporary ramp-up of LNG imports over the next 36 months, which can be achieved without requiring the construction of new onshore or piped gas infrastructure projects.

A focus on accelerating and scaling up the deployment of clean energy solutions would also lead to a rapid structural decline in overall gas demand beyond 2025. This would mean that there is no need for new gas infrastructure and also ensure that there is a clear exit path from the inevitable near-term plateau in coal use.

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The choices that the EU makes today will have global ramifications. With wise choices, the EU has the potential to emerge from this crisis both stronger in energy security, through a greater reliance on home-grown renewable electricity, and as a leader in the fight against climate change. Europe’s success in turning the page on its natural gas dependency can demonstrate a pathway for a cleaner energy future that the rest of the world can emulate.

Six key recommendations for policymakers:

  1. Fast-track permitting for wind and solar projects.
  2. Leverage public interest and financing programmes to improve energy efficiency.
  3. Accelerate industrial electrification.
  4. Define and execute a robust materials and equipment supply policy.
  5. Build human resources capacity for renewables build-up and residential heat pump installation.
  6. Limit gas infrastructure investments to temporary FSRUs on short-term contracts
As the IEA has repeatedly underlined, Europe and the world do not have to choose between addressing today’s energy security crisis and the climate crisis. While lost supplies from Russia need to be replaced in some cases through short-term increases in fossil fuel production elsewhere, the lasting solution to both crises is a huge and rapid scaling up of investment in energy efficiency, renewables and other clean technologies.
Dr Fatih Birol, Executive Director, International Energy Agency
This energy crisis - met with an inadequate response - will lead to a societal crisis. The combination of the intense pressures on the cost of living with soaring energy and commodity prices presents a major challenge to governments across Europe. For this reason, strong social policy measures will be as vital as the energy response: to respond to the soaring costs faced by households, and to address fuel poverty through targeted energy efficiency programmes.
Laurence Tubiana, Chief Executive Officer, European Climate Foundation

This paper is published by the European Climate Foundation (ECF) with significant support and contribution from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. McKinsey & Company supported the analysis and synthesis of the data and information provided in this paper. The paper draws on the analysis carried out by several researchers and grantee partners of ECF and the Hewlett Foundation, including the Rhodium Group, Agora Energiewende, University of Maryland, and National Renewable Energy Laboratory. The European Climate Foundation cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained or expressed therein.