The race is on to end reliance on fossil fuels in the form of an innovative green transformation plan, to strengthen economic growth and climate action across Europe.
The European Commission has unveiled its REPowerEU Plan which aims to save energy, diversify energy suppliers and speed up a renewable energy roll-out across homes, industry and power generation to replace fossil fuels, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The initiative follows disruption to the global energy market caused by the invasion, sparking the urgency to see the European energy system transformed and the climate crisis eased, as Europe’s dependence on Russian fossil fuels is to be eradicated well before 2030.
The Commission also proposes to increase the 2030 target for renewables from 40 per cent to 45 per cent under the Fit for 55 packages (the EU’s target of reducing net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55 per cent by 2030). The increased ambition will build the framework for other initiatives, including an EU Solar Strategy (to double solar photovoltaic capacity by 2025 and install 600GW by 2030), a Solar Rooftop Initiative (with a phased-in legal obligation to install solar panels on new public and commercial buildings) and new residential buildings and doubling the rate of heat pumps deployment.
As many as 85 per cent of Europeans believe the EU should reduce its dependency on Russian gas and oil (costing European taxpayers nearly €100bn per year) and swiftly find alternative supplies to support Ukraine.
The EU will continue to work alongside Ukraine to ensure supply security and a functioning energy sector, while paving the way for future electricity and renewable hydrogen trade, as well as rebuilding the energy system under the REPowerUkraine initiative.
At the core of the REPowerEU plan is the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF), supporting the planning and financing of cross-border and national infrastructure as well as energy projects and reforms.
Saving energy now will prepare for the potential challenges of next winter and, mindful of this, the Commission has also published an EU Save Energy Communication which highlights the short-term behavioural changes required to reduce gas and oil demand by 5 per cent.
Member States are encouraged to launch communication campaigns targeting households and industry to reduce energy demands and the EU has spent several months working with international partners to diversify supplies and secure record amounts of liquefied natural gas (LNG) imports and higher pipeline gas deliveries.
Energy diversification will be facilitated by the recently adopted EU External Energy Strategy which will focus on building long-term partnerships with suppliers, including cooperation on hydrogen and other green technologies. It will prioritise the EU's commitment to the energy transition and will develop major hydrogen corridors in the Mediterranean and the North Sea.
The Commission will guide on renewable energy and power purchase agreements as well as provide a technical advisory facility with the European Investment Bank. It also proposes to establish an EU Solar Industry Alliance and a large-scale skills partnership in order to maintain and regain technological and industrial leadership in solar and hydrogen.
Delivering the REPowerEU objectives requires an additional investment of €210bn between now and 2027 which must be met by the private and public sectors at the national, cross-border and EU levels.
A total of €225bn is already available in loans to support REPowerEU under the RRF and the Commission proposes to increase the RRF financial envelope with €20n in grants from the sale of EU Emission Trading System (ETS) allowances currently held in the Market Stability Reserve. The ETS not only reduces emissions and the use of fossil fuels, but also raises the necessary funds to achieve energy independence.
Stephanie Kusemann, Consultant at Acre Europe, said: “It’s great to see that with the REPowerEU we are transitioning faster towards clean technology while increasing the resilience of the EU-wide energy system at the same time. A stable and affordable green energy supply is crucial to meet the targets for 2030 and to smooth down climate change.”
Stephanie works as a Consultant in Acre's Europe Team. She provides strong knowledge and expertise in tech recruiting and social media marketing with a background in telecommunications, tourism and energy.
Due to her passion for sustainability, she volunteers for AIESEC Alumni Europe and TheSpace, where she supports a sustainable travel agency in Benin. She also has a blog on sustainable travel.