How to achieve climate neutrality while doing without Russian gas? It is to this thorny question that the European Commission tried to answer, Wednesday, May 18. She presented a new plan called “RePowerEU”. The site is colossal and sprawling. It is broken down into a multitude of legislative proposals, strategies and recommendations for the attention of the 27 Member States of the European Union (EU).
In total, some 300 billion euros are on the table to free ourselves from Russian imports “long before the end of the decade”, wants to believe the European Commission. This should be possible thanks to new investments in green energies. “Renewables are really the backbone of this plan,” confirms a European source who participated in its development.
And for good reason, the European Commission wants green energies to account for 45% of the EU’s energy mix by 2030, whereas until now the bar was set at 40%. For solar energy, the Commission would like that by 2025, 320 GW can be produced by new photovoltaic solar panels, more than double the current level. It also proposes to make solar roofs mandatory for commercial and public buildings by 2025, and for new residential buildings by 2029.
Less energy-intensive buildings
The procedures for launching projects in the field of renewable energies must also, according to the Commission, be streamlined, in order to make these projects more attractive to industrialists. So, while the war is raging in Ukraine, Europe wants more than ever to have to rely only on itself to produce its electricity.
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But that’s not all: it is also on the energy consumption side that the European Commission believes that Europe can greatly improve. The logic is clear: if buildings are less energy-intensive, if ” energy efficiency “ manages to impose itself as a central concept in Europe, then the pressure exerted on the energy markets will be less strong in the future, and the EU will be better able to conquer its independence.
A neutral continent in 2050
With “RePowerEU, we are taking our ambition to be independent of Russian fossil fuels to the next level as soon as possible”said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. As soon as she took office at the end of 2019, she presented the “green pact” for Europe, in order to make the Old Continent climate neutral by 2050.
Last summer, the “Adjustment to the 55” (or “Fit for 55”) package was part of this same logic, outlining the way forward to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. greenhouse by 55% (compared to 1990 levels). With RePowerEU, the Commission explains that it is staying the course, even if it means making additional efforts.
“It’s going to be hard, damn hard. But if we manage to achieve our goals, it will also be damn exceptional,” blows a source within the institution. Currently, Russia supplies about 45% of the gas consumed in Europe. The plan is to replace part of it. RePowerEU does not close the door to the import of gas from third countries.
Europe will continue to import fossil products
The NGO Global Witness therefore considers it absurd to allocate 10 billion euros of European funds to invest in new gas infrastructures in Europe. It is “a waste of time and money”according to Murray Worthy, energy specialist within the organization. “The more we spend to import gas, the more we will continue to expose the most vulnerable in our societies to exorbitant energy bills. »
At the European office of Greenpeace, Silvia Pastorelli is on the same line: “Only if the EU really reduces its dependence on exports can ordinary people’s electricity bills go down…”
The European Commission, for its part, denies letting anyone ” by the roadside “. As for the plan as a whole, she certainly judges it ” ambitious “but above all “realistic”. And Ursula von der Leyen to decide: “We know that when Europe acts in concert, it has more weight. » The European Council of May 30 and 31 should allow European leaders to discuss it, at 27.