EU readies €195 billion plan to quit Russian fossil fuels

Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, speaks in the European Parliament on 5 April 2022. [multimedia.europarl.europa.eu/en…]

The European Commission plans to unveil a €195 billion plan to stop importing Russian fossil fuels by 2027, combining a faster rollout of renewable energy and energy savings with a switch to alternative gas supplies, draft documents show.

The draft measures, which could change before they are due to be published next week, are a follow-up to Commission plans outlined on 8 March after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Called REPowerEU, the March plan aimed to “eliminate” Europe’s dependence on Russian gas “well before 2030” and reduce the EU’s dependence on Russian gas by two thirds before the end of this year.

The follow-up measures to be presented next week include a mix of EU laws, non-binding schemes, and recommendations national governments could take up, including by revising their plans to spend the EU’s huge COVID-19 recovery fund to free up more funding for the energy transition.

The Commission expects the measures to require €195 billion in investments, on top of those already needed to meet the bloc’s 2030 climate target, which would help slash Europe’s bill for fossil fuel imports.

To spearhead the plans, Brussels is considering proposing higher targets for renewable energy and energy efficiency, according to the draft proposals and EU officials.

Goals under discussion include a target for a 45% share of renewable energy by 2030, replacing the current 40% proposal, and a 13% cut in EU-wide energy consumption by 2030 compared with expected use, replacing the Commission’s current 9% proposal.

LEAK: EU Commission considering higher renewable energy target for 2030

The European Commission is looking to increase the EU’s renewable energy target for 2030 as part of plans due next week, which also include faster permitting rules for new projects and a solar strategy making rooftop solar mandatory for all new buildings, according to leaked proposals seen by EURACTIV.

Among other proposals would be tweaks to EU law to fast-track permitting deadlines for some renewable energy projects, and new EU schemes to jumpstart a large-scale rollout of solar energy and rebuild Europe’s solar manufacturing industry.

Brussels will also outline plans to produce 10 million tonnes of renewable hydrogen by 2030 and import another 10 million tonnes, supported by legislation defining which types of hydrogen can count as renewable.

The EU will also outline the potential to increase imports of liquefied natural gas from countries including Egypt, Israel and Nigeria, plus the infrastructure needed to replace Russian gas imports – which a draft document said should be designed to ensure it does not lock in decades of emissions that could undermine climate change goals.

EU ready to increase energy efficiency target to eliminate Russian gas

The European Commission is revising the economic assumptions behind its energy and climate laws package presented last year, saying sky-high gas prices fuelled by the war in Ukraine have strengthened the case for more ambitious energy efficiency goals.

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