As a first green and peaceful response to the evolving human and political tragedy at its Eastern borders the EU Commission on March 8, 2022 issued its REPowerEU  communication to call for “joint European action for more affordable, secure and sustainable energy “. The Communication seeks to curb EU imports of Russian gas providing more than 40% of the EU’s total gas consumption. Russia also accounts for 27% of oil imports and 46% of coal imports. Next to measures to provide companies and households with affordable, secure energy through price mitigation and storing gas for next winter, the Communication states that phasing out EU’s  dependence on fossil fuels from Russia can be done well before 2030. For example by a “boost to hydrogen production and imports to 20megatons by 2030, that shaves of  25-50 bcm of natural gas”, suggests the Communication…

This could potentially create an unexpected opportunity to REPower not only the EU, but Russia and Ukraine as well, through “joint European, Russian and Ukrainian action for more affordable, secure and sustainable energy”. In this way the transition of a whole continent towards cleaner and happier energy alternatives for its people would get a huge boost up to the border of China…..making (clean) energy not (dirty) war….it would only require rephrasing a few lines in this EU  Communication…..

Starting with “Diversifying gas supplies, via higher LNG imports and pipeline imports from non-Russian suppliers, and higher levels of biomethane and hydrogen” as REPoweEU states, the EU could support Russia in identifying alternative pathways to substitute the economic value of reduced exports of natural gas to Europe. An interesting article of the German Stiftung for Wissenschaft und Politik in May 2021 sheds more light on Russian potential of  low carbon hydrogen developments and its potential for export. By the way Nordstream II is fit for purpose…..

Reducing faster our dependence on fossil fuels at the level of homes, buildings and the industry, and at the level of the power system by boosting energy efficiency gains, increasing the share of renewable and addressing infrastructure bottlenecks” Although Ukrainian renewable power would probably be just sufficient to cover national clean power needs, EU’s budding, greening of  TEN T corridors could cross borders into Ukraine, (re) building a clean resilient transport network (rail and road) connecting “Hydrogen Valleys” into South East Asia.

As EU’s Fit for 55 proposals would lower EU’s  gas consumption by 30%, equivalent to 100 bcm (billion cubic meters), by 2030, additional gas diversification and more renewable gases, frontloaded energy savings and electrification could deliver at least the equivalent of the 155 bcm imports of Russian gas. What if we substituted these 155 bcm of natural gas not only with clean alternatives for EU citizens, but the same amount for Russian and Ukrainain citizens, demonstrating the value of which the EU is most proud, “keeping the peace” in 27 languages….

Let’s start with the REPowerEU’s  boost to hydrogen production and imports to 20megatons by 2030, that shaves of  25-50 bcm of natural gas. In comparison the Fit for 55 package a year ago included 5.6 million tonnes of renewable hydrogen, saving 9-18.5 bcm by 2030. As hydrogen infrastructure has rallied in only a few years to the top of the EU’s energy transition agenda, this could happen in Russia and Ukraine as well…

In its final report on Hydrogen in the National Energy and Climate Plans NCEP’s (2020), the FCH JU estimated EU hydrogen demand in a high scenario of 183TWhH2/a in 2030, that would substitute of 258 TWh/a of natural gas, meaning 56GW of electrolysis capacity (16 GW more than the EU Hydrogen Strategy envisioned in 2020).

Would the European, Russian and Ukrainian hydrogen community have the power to rally around a peaceful, but forceful joint contribution to truly #REPowerEURussiaUkraine?

Photo: Courtesy Nordstream