According to EU documents, the cut-off date for the use of Russian gas in the Community is 2046. By that time, member states will stop importing natural gas from Russia and it will be replaced by hydrogen and Renewable Energy Sources.
“In 25 years at the latest we will stop exporting Russian gas. Ukraine should prepare for this. As in other countries, you should know what to do when this happens,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on her recent visit to Ukraine.
In her opinion, it is necessary to develop alternative energy sources. “A year ago the Union proposed a strategy for the widespread use of green hydrogen derived from renewable energy sources (RES). A lot of money is allocated for this: by 2025, we plan to invest between EUR 180 and EUR 470 billion in the project,” the agency reports.
Although initially RES were supported only by environmentalist groups, renewable energy sources gradually came to hold a noticeable place in the European energy sector. Today, the EU is also pushing for green energy, as its own energy sources are depleting. Brussels is establishing active contacts with countries where minerals of the future are mined – rare earth metals, such as lithium and cobalt.
Ukraine where such deposits have been exploited since Soviet times is also a potential supplier, with negotiations with Brussels ongoing since autumn 2020. In February, the European Union decided to allocate an additional EUR 800,000, including for supply of critically important raw materials in the aid programme for Ukraine. The main argument for the West is the fight against global warming. Starting in 2030, Brussels intends to introduce a carbon footprint tax. This will be imposed on all goods whose manufacture and delivery involve carbon dioxide emissions.
The biggest loser will be Russia, the main supplier of minerals to the EU market. Over a decade, this will amount to some EUR 34 billion. That is why the Russian economy ministry has announced a new draft low-carbon strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2050.
“Initially, this type of electricity generation could not compete with burning gas and coal. But new technologies have emerged. In the last fifty years, electricity from a solar panel has gone down in price by several hundred times, becoming a viable alternative to traditional energy sources,” notes Vitaly Kazakov, director of the Energy Economics programme at the Russian School of Economics, as quoted by RIA Novosti.
Russia’s EU friends are already making sure that Moscow does not lose out on the Community’s energy metamorphosis.
“Russia and Germany must create a hydrogen union, uniting their efforts in developing hydrogen energy projects,” said Rainer Seele, former head of Austria’s OMV – Gazprom’s partner in the Nord Stream 2 project – in an interview with the Vedomosti newspaper.
“It seems to me that in the short and medium term we will focus on the so-called blue hydrogen. Europe needs hydrogen. Now we are preparing the market for it and investing in common infrastructure that will supply the necessary quantities of gas for production and storage,” he added.
The former OMV chief noted that in the longer term, Russia and Germany should seek cooperation on green hydrogen, which is produced by electrolysis from water.
“We are taking another important step in the partnership from the western side: the technology. And your wonderful country has a great advantage – huge spaces, huge areas. Imagine how many wind turbines or solar panels you can install in Russia. In some countries in Europe, there are windmills on top of windmills, there is no space left to put them. And if we set ourselves the goal of developing the hydrogen market in Europe, the hydrogen market will – by all calculations – need imports, and Russia will be the natural and closest partner,” wrote Seele.
By Martin Chomsky (photo:russiabusinesstoday.com)