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RePowerEU: Europe must find win-win climate solutions as it seeks energy security

May 18, 2022 Work Area: Carbon Capture, Energy Access, Methane, Superhot Rock Energy, Zero-Carbon Fuels

The European Commission released several communications and proposals today in the framework of its RePowerEU strategy. The Communication on EU External Energy Engagement in a changing world lays out the Commission’s strategy for separating the EU’s energy system from Russian fossil fuels. It focuses on several important areas of climate policy, including: accelerating the deployment of renewables, diversifying the EU’s import partners for fossil fuels, implementing energy saving and efficiency measures, boosting global hydrogen trade, and supporting clean energy innovation around the world.

The document released today is a non-binding strategic plan designed to provide direction to the other EU institutions and member state governments.

“Achieving the rapid transformation of an entire continent’s energy system is always going to be a challenging and risk-filled endeavour – this was true even before the geopolitical situation forced the European Commission’s hand,” said Alessia Virone, Government Affairs Director, Europe for CATF.

“What we cannot lose sight of is the need to develop win-win solutions that achieve both energy security and deep decarbonisation. In the RePowerEU proposals published today, the Commission has made a major step by making it clear that shifting energy and climate policies in the EU have huge knock-on impacts to both neighbouring countries and new partners around the world. For too long, Brussels has looked to solve European climate challenges in a vacuum, so this shift in focus is hugely welcome. The more holistic and global our vision and the more solutions we seek, the better able we are to mitigate the risks of transition.”

CATF’s experts from across the organization’s work areas provided the following perspectives: 

Magnolia Tovar, Global Director, Zero-Carbon Fuels Policy:

“The European Commission should be applauded for acknowledging that Europe will need to rapidly ramp up imports of hydrogen to meet projected demand, especially if we want to keep industrial decarbonisation targets in our sights.

Beyond this, the European Union has an opportunity to be at the forefront of creating a new global trade for fuels that don’t emit carbon when combusted. Low-carbon fuels like hydrogen and ammonia are incredibly promising, but we cannot think of them as quick fixes. A crucial next step will be for the European Commission to put in place a certification scheme for imported  low-carbon fuels. Setting standards early will create market confidence, shape which infrastructure is built, and, because the EU is such an important buyer, put a burgeoning global market on the right track.”

Terra Rogers, Program Director, Superhot Rock Energy:

“In the long-term, European energy security will depend on generating a greater share of overall power within the bloc. To that end, the Commission has rightfully acknowledged the need to increase the build out of renewables in the EU, but have done so with a focus on wind and solar technologies alone.

Let’s not forget there are other renewable technologies out there. There is significant potential within Europe for superhot rock energy demonstration projects that would not only provide more decarbonisation options to EU member states, but could enable future renewable hydrogen production and help to unlock an emerging technology that could provide clean, inexhaustible energy anywhere in the world.”

Jonathan Banks, Global Director, Super Pollutants:

“We applaud the Commission’s ambition for using methane mitigation to achieve wins on both energy supply and climate. There is a huge potential to supply much-needed replacement fossil gas by preventing the widespread leaking, flaring and venting of methane throughout the oil and gas system. Putting methane measures into RePowerEU highlights the rapid climate wins possible at a time when most eyes are squarely on questions of energy security.

CATF encourages member states to immediately seek to add conditions that begin to address the untapped energy source into all energy diversification discussions. Supplying financial and technical assistance to external energy partners via the ‘You Collect/We Buy’ scheme is genuinely a world leading proposal.”

Lee Beck, Global Director, Carbon Capture: 

“CATF is delighted to see the Commission highlighting the need for carbon management technologies both in the EU and in neighboring states. Unlocking carbon removals, carbon capture, CO2 transport and storage will future-proof energy-intensive industrial sectors and industries reliant on fossil fuels for climate neutrality.

There are more than 50 planned carbon capture and storage projects in Europe. A European carbon capture and storage strategy along with political recognition will lay the pathway for scale and help accelerate the bloc’s decarbonisation efforts and will ultimately bring these innovative climate technologies to countries around the world.”

Lily Odarno, Director of Energy and Climate Innovation, Africa: 

“There is no doubt that sub-Saharan African countries are being considered in a new light by the Commission as Europe looks to establish a new network of energy partners. It’s crucial that European policymakers approach these new deals with both energy and development goals in mind. Sub-Saharan African countries have their own growth goals and energy needs inextricably tied to them – there should be no illusion that Europe can simply claim clean energy resources as needed.

The goal should be for mutually beneficial arrangements. To that end, CATF particularly supports the suggestion to create a joint research and innovation partnership that will benefit both sides as they work towards new energy systems. To be successful,  this partnership must prioritize and  cultivate indigenous African research and innovation ecosystems that can be self-sustaining over the long-term.”

Olivia Azadegan, Energy Transition Director, MENA:

“The MENA region finds itself in a position of great opportunity with strengthened global decarbonisation commitments. With the shifting geopolitical dynamics the RePowerEU Communication acknowledges the role that the region can play in becoming a much needed provider of clean energy to European countries.

Energy producers in the Gulf and North Africa could become thriving energy hubs in a zero carbon economy and are looking for long-term partnerships that will allow them to make the necessary investments to produce renewable electricity and low-carbon fuels for export to Europe and beyond.  This announcement is a step in the right direction. However, further policy details are required by the Commission to materialize low-carbon investments in the MENA region and establish confidence for investors, developers and regional governments to take the first step.”

Press Contact

Rowan Emslie, Communications Director, Europe, Clean Air Task Force, [email protected],  +32 476 97 36 42

About Clean Air Task Force

Clean Air Task Force (CATF) is a global nonprofit organization working to safeguard against the worst impacts of climate change by catalyzing the rapid development and deployment of low-carbon energy and other climate-protecting technologies. With 25 years of internationally recognized expertise on climate policy and a fierce commitment to exploring all potential solutions, CATF is a pragmatic, non-ideological advocacy group with the bold ideas needed to address climate change. CATF has offices in Boston, Washington D.C., and Brussels, with staff working virtually around the world.  

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