The EU’s energy security is at risk. Europe is hugely dependent on fossil fuel imports, in particular on the natural gas used to cover its extensive heating demand.
With the increasing deployment of variable renewables, the EU electrical system requires more flexible generation. Natural gas as backup must be discarded: the more it is used, the more the EU is dependent on energy imports, and the more it moves away from achieving energy security.
With the new Energy Union, the only viable option to address this challenge is to improve energy efficiency and to replace fossil fuel consumption and imports with stable renewable energy sources in the heating and electricity sectors. Energy efficiency is not sufficient to solve such a long-standing structural problem.
Such a path requires political courage and structural reforms in the years to come. In order to prepare the ground, EGEC publishes today an action plan towards “Fuel switch to renewables in the heating and electricity sectors”. This paper provides case studies of how to switch fuel with different geothermal technologies and puts forward key recommendations to build a resilient Energy Union, including:
- Phase-out subsidies to fossil fuels in both heating and electricity sectors. Price carbon and other emissions in non-ETS sectors.
- Mobilise existing Structural and Investment Funds as well as the new European Fund for Strategic Investments to finance RES for heating and cooling and flexible RES technologies.
- Implement the directives on energy efficiency and on the energy performance of buildings, and ensuring consistency with the RES directive regarding regulations on heating and cooling. Beyond 2020, existing measures should be strengthened, addressing the existing building stock.
- In the upcoming revision of EU Regulation on security of gas supply, Member States should be required, as part of their Preventative Action Plan, to establish a strategy to promote the switch from gas to renewable energy sources.
- Develop a European strategy to replace natural gas in power plants, ensuring grid flexibility with flexible renewable power plants (geothermal, etc.), and mitigating system costs.