While the dependence on a single exporter has long been seen as problematic, the war in Ukraine has further raised the urgency of diversifying energy sources and adding renewables to the domestic energy mix.  Statistics reveal that the EU’s dependence on energy imports has gone up in the last few years since domestic production of coal, gas, oil and nuclear energy has declined. For instance, in 2020, the EU imported 57.5% of its energy, with numbers reaching 97.6% for Malta and 10.5 % for Estonia.[1]

The fact that Russia is the largest exporter of oil, natural gas and coal to the EU also confers it with substantial political and economic leverage. As a consequence, the EU has presented the REPowerEU Plan, which aims to both reduce the EU’s dependence on Russia and equally push forward the green transition. The plan concretely looks at energy savings, diversification of energy supplies and increased use of renewables.  It also contains a Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF), which will be tasked with “supporting coordinated planning and financing of cross-border and national infrastructure as well as energy projects and reforms”.[2]

In addition, the EU has been seeking to diversify its supplies by establishing commercial ties with new partners. In this context, it has shifted to greater LNG imports and deliveries via gas pipelines. This has not always happened without critique since the EU has started negotiations with historically problematic interlocutors such as Venezuela.[3]  In order to strengthen its negotiation position and increase efficiency, it has also set up the EU Energy Platform to pool demand, optimize infrastructure use while equally creating a space to purchase renewable hydrogen. [4]

Coupled with the REPowerEU Plan, the Commission has also adopted the EU External Energy Strategy, which focuses on energy diversification and establishing long-term partnerships with suppliers. A special focus will lie on hydrogen and green technologies.  At the same time, hydrogen corridors are to be developed in the Mediterranean and in North Sea. Cooperation with Ukraine is to be strengthened through stronger electricity and renewable hydrogen trade while the energy system is to be rebuilt under the REPowerUkraine initiative.

Moreover, the Commission strives to increase the 2030 renewables target from 40% to 45%, which should also trigger other initiatives such as:

  • an EU Solar Strategy, aiming at doubling solar photovoltaic capacity by 2025
  • a Solar Rooftop Initiative, which will make it obligatory to install solar panels on new public and commercial buildings.
  • Doubling the use of heat pumps as well as measures to integrate geothermal and solar thermal energy into district and communal heating systems.
  • Reaching domestic production of 10 million tonnes of domestic renewable hydrogen by 2030

The REPowerEU objectives are estimated to require an additional investment of €210 billion between now and 2027. However, this investment is believed to result in annual savings of almost €100 billion per year.[5] At the same time, it is supposed to ensure the EU’s independence in terms of energy supplies and equally pave the way for a greener future. No doubt, the decision to shift away from Russia and to focus more on domestic production as well as a broader selection of partners will have geopolitical implications and reshape the EU’s political ties with different energy exporters around the world.

[1] Russia’s war on Ukraine: Implications for EU energy supply | Epthinktank | European Parliament

[2] REPowerEU (europa.eu)

[3] Öl und Gas aus Katar, USA, Kanada, Venezuela: Die Gewinner der Energiekrise seit dem Ukraine-Krieg – manager magazin (manager-magazin.de)

[4] REPowerEU (europa.eu)

[5] REPowerEU (europa.eu)