The European Commission has unveiled its strategy to end the EU’s dependence on Russian fossil fuels, in turn accelerating the green energy transition.

The REPowerEU Plan, released today (May 18th), aims to help end Europe’s dependence on Russian fossil fuels, which the EU states are being wielded as an economic and political weapon by Russia. 

The plan calls for the investment of an additional €210bn by 2027, through energy savings, diversification of energy supplies, and accelerated roll-out of renewable energy to replace fossil fuels in homes, industry, and power generation. 

By diversifying energy supplies and investing in renewables, Europe can also accelerate the green transformation, supported by the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) – considered to be at the heart of the Plan. 

How can the EU save energy?

A key part of the strategy focuses on energy savings, considered to be the quickest and cheapest way to address the current energy crisis and reduce bills. 

Under its ‘Fit for 55’ package of the European Green Deal legislation, the Commission has proposed an increase from 9% to 13% of the binding Energy Efficiency Target. An earlier proposal stated that natural gas consumption in the EU is to be reduced 30% by 2030, with one-third of the savings coming from energy efficiency measures.

Through its ‘EU Save Energy Communication’, the Commission has detailed short-term behavioural changes which could cut gas and oil demand by 5%, in addition to encouraging EU Member States to encourage energy savings by reducing VAT rates on energy efficient heating systems, building insulation, and appliances and products. 

Energy diversity 

To enable the voluntary common purchases of gas, liquefied natural gas (LNG) and hydrogen, the newly created EU Energy platform aims to pool demand, optimise infrastructure use, coordinate outreach to suppliers, and permit the joint purchasing of renewable hydrogen. 

A joint purchasing mechanism will be used to negotiate and contract gas purchases on behalf of participating Member States. 

Adopted today, the EU External Energy Strategy will work alongside the Global Gateway to advance the global ‘green and just’ energy transition, increasing energy savings and efficiency to reduce the pressure on prices, boosting the development of renewables and hydrogen, and stepping up energy diplomacy. 

In addition to the development of major hydrogen corridors in the Mediterranean and North Sea, the EU states that it will work together with Ukraine to ensure energy security and rebuild its energy system under the REPowerUkraine initiative. 

Speeding up the roll-out of renewables

Part of the EU’s renewable energy rollout includes setting a target of 10m tonnes of domestic renewable hydrogen production and 10m tonnes of imports by 2030. 

Two delegated Acts on the definition and production of renewable hydrogen will also be published by the Commission to ensure that production leads to net decarbonisation. Under the scheme, €200m will be invested for research into hydrogen projects. 

A Biomethane Action Plan has also been announced, which – along with the Biomethane Industrial Alliance – will stimulate the renewable gas value chain and aims to achieve the production of 35 bcm (billion cubic metres) of biomethane by 2030. 

Reacting to the BAP, Harmen Dekker, CEO of the European Biogas Association (EBA), called the proposed alliance an ‘essential instrument’ to steer cooperation within the biomethane value chain and expand the sector. 

“The additional 37bn euros of targeted investments proposed by the Commission can support the development of new capacity and infrastructure to accommodate biomethane into the gas grid and create energy communities,” added Dekker.