The current geopolitical situation in which Europe finds itself with the invasion of Ukraine and the subsequent EU sanctions against Russia have highlighted the enormous problem of energy dependence faced by many countries in the world. There are more and more reasons to push for the transition to an energy model that is not only clean, but also locally secure while ensuring the sustainability of the economy and the planet. Let´s reflect upon all this.
What will I read about in this article?
- Renewable energies contribute to security of supply and reduce energy dependence
- Energy transition as a solution to global warming
- A clean energy source of local employment and wealth
Energy independence is a growing argument in favour of the transition to a decarbonised economy
45% of the EU's gas imports in 2021 came from Russia, according to data from the International Energy Agency (IEA). Europe's dependence on Russian natural gas has been highlighted by the Russian invasion of Ukraine that began on 24 February and subsequent initiatives by the EU to reduce imports of fossil fuels from this country.
This situation has heightened uncertainty and doubts about the security of natural gas supply on the continent.
At the end of February, the price of crude oil topped 100 dollars per barrel. At the same time, Europe saw the price of natural gas increase fivefold in the last year alone. These are worrying figures considering that, even today, oil and gas still account for around 60% of all energy consumption in the EU.
Reducing this energy dependence is not an easy challenge for Europe, as it will require an effort from all sectors, both public and private, and a firm determination to tackle the far-reaching changes needed to make Europe's energy system more self-sufficient.
"45% of the EU's gas imports in 2021 came from Russia"
But not much more can be expected. Accelerating investment in clean and efficient technologies may be at the heart of the solution to this and other economic, environmental and geopolitical problems.
Exactly what’s required to combat global warming and achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, to which the world aspires, with the European Union spearheading this fight against global warming.
The good news is that the solution to both challenges is the same: the deployment of renewable energy.
Renewables, in addition to being key to the decarbonisation of the economy, contribute to energy independence, offer price stability, more local wealth and more jobs than any fossil alternative.
"Renewables offer energy independence, price stability, more local wealth and more jobs than any fossil alternative".
The current situation makes it clear that renewable technologies are not only the path to an emission-free world and economic recovery, but they will also become the key element in the new world order.
This is what the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) affirms in its latest report, which states that between 2019 and 2030, the commitment to renewables will boost global GDP and create 85 million jobs related to energy transition.
The same report highlights that approximately 80% of the world's population lives in countries that import fossil fuels. In this sense, the report underscores the unlimited availability of renewables, as they come from natural resources that are freely available to us: the sun, the wind, the sea, etc.
These elements are also generally autochthonous and available in any part of the world, to a greater or lesser extent. They therefore help to reduce energy dependence between nations.
Europe sets a deadline to end energy dependence on Russia
European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said in March that EU leaders would come up with the necessary measures to end Russian fossil fuel imports in just two months.
Although the proposal includes measures such as finding alternative suppliers of natural gas, it is also committed to clean energy. In this way, the president stated that plans to boost renewables and improve energy efficiency are envisaged. Frans Timmermans, the EU's climate policy chief, said that Europe could replace 100 billion cubic metres of Russian gas imports by the end of 2022.
A sustainable solution to global problems
The transition to a clean energy model is more urgent than ever. Not only have the climate challenges we face not diminished, but the scientific evidence ensures that the time to react is running out.
This was stated by the IPPC in its latest report (you can read more about it here), where they detail that in order to limit the temperature increase to 1.5ºC, it’s essential that greenhouse gas emissions reach their peak in 2025. And that in the next five years, before 2030, these emissions should be reduced by 43%.
The challenge is enormously difficult, but not impossible. Experts say the time to act and make deep and immediate cuts in emissions in all countries is now. In this regard, renewable energies will play a fundamental role in decarbonising the global energy system.
A sustainable source of local employment and wealth
There is no doubt about the role of renewable energies in caring for the environment. But if the Ukraine-Russia conflict situation has exposed that economic sustainability is closely related to the sustainability of the energy model. Renewables offer price stability, local wealth and more jobs than any fossil technology.
"Economic sustainability is closely related to the sustainability of the energy model".
Renewable energies provide a strong boost to local economies. IRENA estimates that for every dollar invested in the energy transition, there will be a benefit of between 2 and 5 US dollars.
In other words, if the additional $30 trillion needed to achieve a scenario where global temperatures do not rise more than 1.5°C is invested, a return of between $61 trillion and $164 trillion could be expected by 2050.
In terms of employment, the transition would add 85 million jobs worldwide in renewable energy and related sectors by 2030. This figure far exceeds the 12 million jobs generated by fossil fuels.
There’s every reason to complete the energy transition to a new model that will help us curb climate change, grow economies sustainably and promote energy self-sufficiency.