EUROPE ENERGY STRATEGY FOCUS
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During the European Summit that was held between 20th and 21st March 2014, the frontrunners in government aimed to set targets for energy and climate that would be attained by the year 2030. However, the major topic of discussion that they emphasized on targeted Russia, Ukraine and Crimea. Though they took the appropriate move in terms of postposing discussions pertaining to the set targets, they failed when they deferred negotiations that would help bring down the dependence that Europe has on gas from Russia (Carvalho 2012).
In the European Union, Russia is known to supply approximately one-third of the gas that is used in the region. This means that the region is heavily dependent on Russian gas, as it became evident when the gas flow through Ukraine to the Union got turned off in 2009. The Kremlin, for instance, is heavily dependent on the coal, gas, and oil exports, especially to the European Union (Carvalho 2012). Research reveals that more than half of the revenue that the Russian government generates comes from the fossil fuels that it exports. Oil and gas yield 19 percent each, while coal generates 14 percent of the overall government revenue. During the European Union Summit, inferences were made to look for additional gas sources (Connolly et al. 2014).
Though the European Commission was endowed with the role of preparing a report that could offer solutions to this case, the demands that are posed by the Ukrainian situation lack urgency. If the frontrunners in the European Union want to enforce endorsements, which would influence Russia’s behavior, it is appropriate for them to minimize the amount of energy that they purchase from the country rapidly, and as distant as possible (Connolly et al. 2014). To realize this initiative, they should adopt mechanisms that can help them develop other sources of energy. Though this process would be associated with significant costs, it would help offer energy security, which would later impact positively to the climate and foreign policy (Bilgin 2011).
Europe Energy Strategic Focus
After the EU emerged from the adverse effects that resulted from the recent recession, significant support has been accorded to Europe’s reindustrialization. Many European parliament members have remained unbending towards formulating a common industrial strategy that will help the region attain the objectives that it has set for 2020 (Twidell and Brice 2013). There are various reforms that industry leaders in Europe are participating in to help them make relevant decisions with respect to advancing the region (Malone 2014). The solutions that are being explored are targeted to be comprehensive and long-term in responding to the systematic issues being witnessed in the region. For this reason, significant efforts are being employed to cope with the energy issue that is influencing the industrial practices in the region (Twidell and Brice 2013).
European institutions have been called to make significant investments in research and development. Innovation is a vital tool that helps in formulating policies that can help the region to attain its energy objectives. For instance, the legal frameworks that are set in the area of Information and Communications Technologies are outmoded and constrictive (Malone 2014). In this case, it is crucial to facilitate technology and knowledge transfer to help develop enterprises that are efficient in harnessing data so as to allow the energy sector boon in the future (Malone 2014).
A large number of industries in Europe are technology intensive, especially the ever advancing aeronautics segment. This has created a need for transnational cooperation in modernism. These enterprises are making it their priority to support the sectors that are highly skilled by doubling their energy budget. Also, various sensible solutions pertaining to the exceedingly competitive automobile sector offer support to energy efficient and environmentally friendly initiatives to help guard the automakers in Europe from the threats being posed by the international market (Sedlar et al. 2011).
Concomitantly, Europe is aiming to adopt independent measures to help it secure its energy resources. The European Commission stipulates that a complete internal energy marketplace is crucial with respect to allowing the region implement infrastructure that is energy efficient, especially in the case of SMEs to help them cope with the industrial revitalization. This is the case because alterations in energy policies are anticipated to eliminate the burden on entrepreneurs and consumers (Sedlar et al. 2011).
These initiatives rhyme with the demand for “Industrial Pact,” which will supplement the European Fiscal Pact that is regarded as infamous in the region. This pact targets improving reach to the market and freeing the market. For instance, the European Investment Bank is on the forefront in encouraging private ventures through growth initiatives to serve as one of the vitals ways of boosting capital availability (Pasimeni et al. 2014). Growth missions are the leading illustrations that can help European institutions, particularly SMEs, to attain access the advancing third-world nations. These illustrate the solid actions that need to be taken to help spread European values that can improve interactions and communication with the emerging economies (Kats 2010). By adopting energy efficient strategies and renewable energy, the European Union will manage to support the growth of SMEs in the region, which will allow the industrial segment to attain a significant share of the market (Bilgin 2011).
Other initiatives comprise of extensive reconstruction of state funding. These guidelines will create room for reformation of those industries that are energy intensive. The new focus that has been directed towards resource efficient and low carbon demands in the EU will lead to increased investment in modernization. This practice will help to create new markets with the adoption of this reviewed framework for state aid (Tindale 2014).
Influence of Russian Gas Dependence in Europe
According to a statement by two foreign ministers from Sweden and Denmark, it is crucial to evaluate the role that energy plays while reacting to the incursion of Crimea by Russia. The EU should advance its proficiency on energy, develop infrastructure that can help it purchase fossil fuels from other nations other than Russia, as well as increase the number of other sources of energy, especially renewable (Gaigalis et al. 2014). The two foreign ministers are in an appropriate position to contribute to these issues since Sweden is the number one country in terms of generating most of its energy from renewable while Denmark anticipates being 100 percent dependent on renewable sources of energy by 2050. Poland imports approximately 90 percent of gas from Russia. In this case, the foreign minister from Poland has adopted efforts aimed minimizing energy reliance on Moscow (Climate Action Network Europe 2014).
To address its energy needs effectively, the major areas that Europe should target include: energy efficiency, alternative energy sources, renewable energy, coal and carbon storage, and nuclear power.
Attaining energy efficiency is one of the goals that would be easy for Europe to attain at a rapid pace. A swift as well as determined program that can help to install double varnishing and insulation of the current infrastructure all over Europe can facilitate in bringing down the energy that is required for heating. Moreover, additional jobs would be created while undertaking this initiative. Improving and intensifying district heating, which are networks that carry heat from combustion plants and power stations to commercial establishments and homes, would be an effective process though less rapid (Climate Action Network Europe 2014). In the case of both Eastern and Central Europe, district heating is extensive. However, most of its infrastructure is inefficient due to its old age, thereby losing approximately half of the heat during carriage. Conversely, district heating systems in Scandinavia do not lose more than 10 percent of their heat (Gaigalis et al. 2014).
Questions have been raised as to the role that coal can play in the event of future policies on energy. In this case, the issue of energy protection enters into conflict with the need to safeguard the environment. The EU imports approximately a quarter of the coal it uses from Russia. However, it is possible for the region to survive without the need for Russian coal. It can mine more coal within its borders or look for other countries where it can import from (Boie et al., 2014). Coal is one of the major pollutants, especially since it releases toxic substances to the air, which damage the health of humans and harm the environment. Generating coal also leads to the release of huge amounts of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. This amount is about twice the pollution that gas or electricity generates (Corsatea 2014). However, technology has been developed, which is capable of eliminating greenhouse gases when coal is burning. Carbon capture and storage (CCS) has been established on a small scale, which makes EU to lag behind Canada, Australia, USA, and China in an attempt to implement the practice (Boie et al. 2014).
CCS is not a common practice in Germany, though is it more popular while compared to nuclear power. After the Fukushima accident that was witnessed in 2011, the need for carbon bridge innovations was regarded as a necessity to help in safeguarding the environment while the planet shifts from using fossil fuels to renewable sources of energy (Chestney 2013). Transiting to renewable sources of energy is estimated to take more than half a century. Though gas does not contribute to significant impacts on the environment, coal does. The carbon amounts that gas produces are not low enough to prevent changes to climate unless it is linked with CCS. Though total dependence renewables has received widespread support, no significant attention has been paid to the transition period (Dilaver et al. 2014). According to German statistics, this period will result to a widespread emission of greenhouse gases (Carvalho 2012).
Though Germany portrays great desire to energy security and less dependence on gas from Russia, most Germans seem unlikely to reexamine nuclear power. Chances are that they will reevaluate CCS. However, it is anticipated that Germany will be more willing to combust coal without enforcing CCS, which is a move that will comprise the climate action that EU is embarking on. To avoid this turn of events, the institutions in EU need to set emission standards to police the amount of greenhouse gases that are discharged for every unit of electricity produced (Dilaver et al. 2014). This move will put an end to coal combustion without CCS. However, subsidy will be appropriate in the event of facilitating for demonstration, as well as distribution of CCS (Goldthau and Boersma 2014). Also, nuclear power and renewables will demand financial incentives in order for these technologies to contribute towards climate protection (Nagy and Körmendi 2012).
Alternative Gas Sources
With respect to alternate gas sources, the fastest method would be to increase the capacity of the European Union in terms of importing liquefied natural gas (LNG). In this case, it is the role of the Commission to emphasize on the role that the US government plays in facilitating for the exportation of LNG based on the strategic advantages that it possesses (Nagy and Körmendi 2012). However, the rise of LNG imports does not only depend on the trade negotiations that the EU has established with the US since other countries such as Qatar also possess such gas. In order to create room for additional LNG usage, it is crucial to implement new infrastructure, and states that realize cost drawbacks should implement LNG facilities (Ocelík and Osička 2014). In this case, the Commission should prioritize on poorer member-states, which heavily depend on Russian gas, such as Poland, Bulgaria, and Baltic States. This initiative would help to boost the security of the energy sector in Europe. The other countries that would benefit from this initiative include Hungary, Finland, Czech Republic and Slovakia (Laurijssen et al. 2012).
Energy security plays a vital role in helping the region to safeguard itself from uncertainties that prevail in the market, as in the case of Russia when it turned gas flow to Europe in 2009. Therefore, to boost the overall security of energy in the European Union, the institutions in this region should implement measures to ensure that new pipelines are specifically designed to carry non-Russian gas (Laurijssen, et al., 2012). The pipelines should originate from Caspian Sea and directed towards Europe. Various agreements have been signed to facilitate in this initiative. The first one targets the Trans-Anatolian pipeline, which originates from Azerbaijan to Turkey’s Mediterranean coast. The second is the Trans-Adriatic, which progresses from Turkey’s Mediterranean coast to Italy (Ocelík and Osička 2014). Though the construction process is yet to be started, the two pipelines are anticipated to significantly bring down the dependence that EU has on Moscow.
Renewable Energy Sources
Shale gas is an indigenous source of energy that is classified as non-Russian. Different governments in Europe such as France, Bulgaria, and Germany have barred fracking either formally or informally, but they should reverse this position to help Europe reduce the dependency that it has towards Russian gas. Considering the prevailing state of affairs, any form of renewable gas that can be generated from manure, farm waste, food or sewage should be expanded significantly, and at a rapid pace (Kitzing et al. 2012). This practice is common in countries such as Austria and Germany. By adopting these wastes to help give out renewable energy, the quality of water would improve, since the deposit can be used in farms as fertilizer as opposed to discharging them to rivers or seas. Increased adoption of renewable energy would help to realize energy security, as well as objectives pertaining to climate policy (Kitzing, et al. 2012).
Expanding renewable electricity is also a viable option towards realizing security in the energy sector. This will minimize the need for using gas while producing electricity or in the case of heating. This is because it would be easier and economical to heat commercial buildings and homes while using electricity as opposed to gas. In this case, it is the duty of the commission to coordinate renewable subsidy systems in the region closely so as to bring down both capital and administration costs. Moreover, all institutions in Europe should work together to help them develop and improve the electricity grid, especially around Pyrenees, Baltic, North and Mediterranean Seas, thus increasing its energy sources (Boie et al. 2014).
One of the major re-orientation strategies that the EU energy policy should embark on is to reduce the reliance it has directed towards the sources of energy in Russia. These should be regarded as the central elements that can help in boosting resilience when energy sources have been cut off. EU member states and institutions are, therefore, supposed to devise mechanisms that can allow them use energy that is available to them in an efficient manner to help create room for sustainability and durability. Moreover, to secure energy sources, they need to develop alternative sources of energy to help them continue their operations even when supply has been cut off. Additionally, they can maximize on renewable sources of energy, adopt CCS, as well as establish innovative nuclear power stations. This initiative will not be a simple exercise, especially because of the hefty funds that will be involved. However, after these programs are set up, the security of energy, economic and climate change will be worth the cost, and hence help to build a better tomorrow, which will be energy efficient and more productive.
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