By Muhammad Sudhir Chaudhry
LAHORE: Germany has reacted largely positively to EU plans for ending dependence on Russian fossil fuel imports. Chancellor Olaf Scholz called the European Commission’s RePowerEU Plan an “important initiative” that could give fresh impetus to renewables expansion, energy efficiency and industrial transformation. The German industry in general welcomed the Commission’s efforts to exit fossil fuels from Russia and cut red tape, such as renewables and hydrogen facilities. However, think tanks criticised the EU for putting too much emphasis on diversifying the current oil, gas and coal supply routes instead of moving to renewables more forcefully.
Politicians, industry, NGOs and researchers have reacted largely positively to the European Commission’s Repower EU Plan. Chancellor Olaf Scholz said the package is “an important initiative by the Commission,” which Germany would quickly examine and then discuss with the other EU member states at a special European Council meeting on 30-31 May.
“We want this to accelerate the development of renewable energies, energy efficiency and industrial transformation,” said Scholz during a speech in the federal parliament, the Bundestag.
Reaching the plan’s objectives will require additional investments of 210 billion euros by 2027, said the Commission. “This is a down payment on our independence and security. Cutting Russian fossil fuel imports can also save us almost 100 billion euros per year.”
In order to support the industry in its transition, the Commission will roll out carbon contracts for difference (CCfDs) that are supposed to support the uptake of green hydrogen.
German industry supports phase-out of Russian fossil fuels
German industry association BDI said it “stands behind the EU goal of phasing out Russian fossil fuels as quickly as possible” and welcomed plans for diversified supply and more renewables-based gases. “Europe now urgently needs more electrolier capacity and cross-border hydrogen infrastructure,” said deputy managing director Holger Lösch.
Renewable energy industry association BEE said the Commission has set the course towards a fully renewables-based Europe with its proposals. “In plain language, the plan means no more Russian energy imports from 2027, a reduction of gas imports from Russia by two-thirds by the end of this year, the end of coal-fired power generation in the EU from 2036 and a significant unleashing of renewable energies,” said BEE president Simone Peter. She cautioned that member states would eventually have to implement the plans.
Analysts criticise emphasis on fossil fuel supply diversification
Analysts have criticised the emphasis on finding new fossil fuel suppliers. “RePowerEU gives too little attention to concrete initiatives that reduce fossil fuel demand in the short term and thereby misses the opportunity to simultaneously enhance Europe’s energy security and meet its climate objectives,” said Matthias Buck, director Europe at think tank Agora Energiewende.
Environmental NGO Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union (NABU) criticised plans to speed up permit procedures. “Approval procedures are to be accelerated by eliminating environmental impact assessments,” said NABU president Jörg-Andreas Krüger. “However, this does not lead to better results, but is to the detriment of nature and the environment, creates new legal uncertainties and unwanted precedents.”