Brussels forecasts € 195 billion bill to disconnect EU from Russian energy

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The EU is expected to spend nearly 200 billion euros over the next five years in its bid for energy independence from Russia, according to draft plans that set aggressive targets in areas such as clean energy and reduced consumption.

A draft of the upcoming RepowerEU proposals from the European Commission, reviewed by the Financial Times, shows that Brussels is looking forward to additional investments of 195 billion euros from now until 2027 in addition to plans to increase carbon costs. The EU will also need to cut energy consumption more than previously thought to achieve its ambitious zero-carbon targets by 2050.

The proposals will be released next week as EU leaders rush to wean their economies off Russian oil and gas following President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. The commission has already said it believes the EU could cut Russian gas imports by two-thirds this year, and called on member states to replenish their gas storage facilities by next winter.

He is also seeking approval from member states for a sixth package of sanctions, including a gradual embargo on Russian oil this year. The measures are being held back by the opposition from Hungary, which is heavily dependent on Russian oil.

The proposals concern “a rapid reduction in dependence on Russian fossil fuels through a rapid transition to a clean transition and a concerted effort to achieve a more sustainable energy system and a genuine Energy Union,” the commission said in a statement.

It calls for a reduction of energy consumption by 13 percent by 2030 compared to a 9 percent reduction in the previous Energy Efficiency Directive.

Brussels is also committed to accelerating the deployment of renewable energy sources, aiming for renewables to cover 45 percent of total energy demand by 2030, compared to the target of 40 percent so far. This requires more than doubling the current capacity to 511 gigawatts to reach 1,236 GWh.

The document outlines a strategy to accelerate the installation of solar photovoltaic capacity by 2028 by more than twice as much as today. It also requires greater use of heat pumps, geothermal and solar thermal energy.

The construction of wind energy, which is often constrained by local objections, should be “sharply accelerated”, it said.

The Commission also wants to see a boost in the use of hydrogen from 20 million tonnes of hydrogen produced from renewable sources by 2030, half of which is imported.

This will subsidize the gap between production costs and selling prices for renewable hydrogen produced in the EU and abroad.

The draft International Energy Strategy, also being considered by the FT, offers three “hydrogen import corridors” across the Mediterranean, the North Sea and, ultimately, Ukraine. The strategy also draws on an increase in the use of biomethane worth 36 billion euros.

At the same time, the EU will need to find ways to reduce European industry’s dependence on natural gas. Measures to improve energy efficiency, study fuel substitution, increase electrification and increase the number of renewable sources of hydrogen and biomethane could save up to 35 billion cubic meters of natural gas by 2030.

The infrastructure of LNG import terminals and pipelines will need to be improved. The EU grid may also require an additional investment of 29 billion euros, the draft document said.

The statement, which will require changes to a number of EU directives, may be revised until May 18, when it will be published along with proposals to increase the use of hydrogen and renewable energy sources. The latter include easing environmental regulations allowing EU companies to build wind and solar projects without the need for an environmental impact assessment.

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