EU on track to quit Russian fossil fuels - report

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EU on track to quit Russian fossil fuels - report
Credit: © Reuters.

By Kate Abnett

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union is on track towards its goal of ending Europe's reliance on Russian fossil fuels within this decade, the European Commission said on Tuesday.

European countries are heading into their second winter with scarce Russian gas, after Moscow slashed deliveries last year following its invasion of Ukraine - inflicting an energy crisis of record-high gas prices in Europe.

In a report published on Tuesday, Brussels said the EU expected imports of Russian gas to drop to 40-45 billion cubic metres this year, compared with 155 bcm in 2021, the year before the Ukraine war. The 27-country EU has sanctioned Russian coal and seaborne oil imports.

"The worst effects of the crisis may now be behind us, but there is no room for complacency," the Commission said.

"Energy markets remain vulnerable, fossil fuel subsidies have increased during the crisis, the inflation is still high, our critical infrastructure needs to be protected, including from sabotages," it added.

To replace Russian gas, EU countries have hiked imports from other suppliers and, at the same time, slashed gas use. Norway has replaced Russia as the EU's biggest pipeline gas supplier and liquefied natural gas imports have surged, led by supplies from the United States.

Across the EU, gas storage caverns are 99% full, Gas Infrastructure Europe data show, giving countries a buffer against potential supply shocks this winter.

A record expansion of solar energy has also helped reduce Europe's call on gas-fuelled power plants this year, particularly during summer months when power use for air conditioning peaks.

But while analysts say a return to the record-high prices seen last year is unlikely, global gas markets are unusually tight, posing the risk that prices could still rise in response to cold weather or further supply shocks.

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: European Union flags fly outside the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium September 19, 2019. REUTERS/Yves Herman/File Photo

The Commission also warned that EU countries are still not expanding renewable energy fast enough to reach their legally binding target to get 42.5% of all energy from renewable sources by 2030 - nearly double the current share.

To help speed that up, the Commission published a plan to support Europe's wind energy industry, which is struggling with high inflation and mounting competition from Chinese companies.



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