The European Commission (EC) will publish on Wednesday the details of its "Repower EU" plan to move the European Union (EU) away from Russian gas as soon as possible, diversifying suppliers, gaining in energy efficiency and increasing renewable generation and the production and import of "green" hydrogen.
The EU executive will deepen the plan it outlined in early March, following the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, for the EU to reduce its imports of Russian gas by two-thirds in one year (about 100 billion cubic meters or 100 bcm), with a view to renouncing such purchases by the end of the decade.
In retaliation to Moscow for the war, the EU has vetoed imports of Russian coal from August and the EU-27 are negotiating a proposal to gradually ban oil imports that finance the Kremlin, which for now has encountered obstacles in countries with heavy dependence on that fuel or its transport, especially Hungary.
As for gas, the EU buys 40% of what it consumes in Russia, and replacing it is more difficult than oil, so the EC is betting on accelerating the disconnection instead of seeking consensus to ban it.
According to a draft consulted by Efe of the main document to be presented by the Community Executive, disconnecting rapidly from Russian gas will require an additional 195,000 million euros of investments until 2027.
Brussels believes that this money would be needed mainly to deploy infrastructure to generate renewable energy and improve energy efficiency, but in return, the EC estimates that the EU could save 80,000 million euros a year in gas imports, 12,000 million in oil and 1,700 million in coal.
Sun, heat and hydrogen
Brussels' objective, according to the draft, is to double installed solar power capacity to 300 gigawatts by 2030 and to raise the target for renewable energy consumption from the current 40% to 45%.
The Commission also wants to encourage the EU to produce ten million tons of "green" hydrogen, generated by electrolysis from surplus renewable energies, and to import a further ten million tons.
Brussels is expected to devote particular importance to developing the infrastructure needed to produce and transport this fuel, including cross-border interconnectors.
The EC will also detail its plans to obtain more energy from biomass, both in terms of agricultural biomethane and by using biomass from forests to make fuelwood, provided that the supply is sustainable.
In addition, the EC believes that EU countries can achieve a 5% reduction in gas consumption in the short term with measures such as installing heat pumps to replace gas air conditioning systems.
In the medium term it calls on the EU co-legislators, Council and European Parliament to raise the ambition of the Commission's proposal for a 30% improvement in the energy efficiency target, presented in July last year without taking into account the current geopolitical context.
Wednesday's energy package is also expected to include a report on the design of the European electricity market following the conclusions of the Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators, which recently called for "prudence" in case of having to intervene "in situations of extreme pressure".