The invasion of Ukraine has led to massive disruptions in energy supplies. Despite many warnings Europe has steadily increased dependency on primary energy from Russia during the past decades. Now, Europe’s heavy dependency on energy imports from Russia is starting to unsettle European economies, European institutions and world geopolitics. While replacing natural gas within the energy mix is a major challenge, there are several opportunities to quickly reduce dependency on natural gas from Russia.
In a paper written in the context of the PAC project, authors Antonella Battaglini and Andrzej Ceglarz from the Renewables Grid Initiative propose a set of actions to reduce this dependency by the winter of 2022/23 based on an analysis of current European gas supply and demand (including the imports of natural gas from Russia). The authors acknowledge the extensive contribution of the modelling team at Hitachi Energy, in particular Jochen Kreusel and Alexander Oudalov, who have enabled and informed the analysis presented in this paper.
The essential actions to implement immediately include savings measures on both the generation and demand side. Significant savings can be activated on the demand side by putting citizens at the centre of the energy transition and making them active actors in managing the current energy crisis.
Incentives and cost reduction measures should be abandoned immediately as they stimulate consumption when we need to save every possible drop of fuel. Cost reduction measures should be replaced with saving bonuses. These are easy to implement and much fairer than current measures.
All options together represent a savings potential of 1354 TWh which correspond to 85% of natural gas imports from Russia in 2020.
In this context and with a view to medium and long-term measures, electricity grids as the main backbone of the future energy system need to be planned with priority and holistically, with a truly European approach and across all voltage levels. Gas is a complementary energy carrier and should not be treated as equal to electricity, but rather as complementary.
Optimisation across the entire energy system is required to deal with scarcity, including scarcity of space, time and resources.
The Renewables Grid Initiative (RGI) is the coordinator of the PAC project which is funded by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action. This paper is, however, independent to the PAC project consortium partners. Its conclusions are the sole responsibility of the authors and the respective organisation they represent.