EU's New Energy Plan - Mihael Gubas


After waging diplomatic gas wars with its eastern members for the past year, portraying their politicians as extremely unreasonable people who oppose climate protection, the European Union has adopted another ingenious energy plan based on a revision of the so-called "TEN-E" (trans-European energy networks) regulations adopted within the first energy strategy in 2013 ("Six-pack," "Winter package," etc.). So since that winter strategy was so successful, why not bring another one according to the failed plan? In a document released to the public through the unofficial spokesperson portal Euractiv, analysis and revision of the Regulation on guidelines for trans-European energy infrastructure, abbreviated as TEN-E, was conducted. Of course, whether this should be emphasized in particular, the released document antagonized environmentalists, but also small private companies and associations that bring together small energy producers from RES (renewable sources).

Namely, they say that the "leaked" text is a wake-up call because the strategy is based on hydrogen. According to Tara Connolly, a friend of Euractiva from Friends of the Earth Europe: "Hydrogen may seem pure and futuristic, but 99% of hydrogen in Europe today is produced by fossil fuel companies that share gas and release carbon, exacerbating global warming." The European Union spent a year looking for a way to get rid of not only coal but also gas, and then adopted a strategy based on converting one fossil fuel into one non-fossil but for which we have no infrastructure and whose production process is expensive and requires combustion. Fossil fuels. Activists point out that the draft proposal mentions sustainability criteria for hydrogen production but is not mandatory for all energy infrastructures. Of course, since the EU is officially "starting" with the gas phase-out, new financial constructions must not be spent on new gas infrastructures. However, the funds may therefore be spent on "smart grids", which includes gas grids "that use digital solutions to integrate low-carbon and renewable gases." So the EU does not support ordinary gas as an energy source. It is a big "no-no", but only "smart gas".

The new energy plan is a new attempt to establish plans to finance cross-border energy infrastructure. The aim of the first energy strategy was to establish a single internal energy market. In order to do this in a "competitive way," which was an old priority, now reaffirmed as a new priority, it was necessary to abolish the social price of electricity, which did not happen because such an idea caused huge revolts among members of the periphery, many times overthrowing the government, e.g., in Bulgaria. For it to be competitive, rich western countries would have to sell their surpluses to eastern ones, at market price. Then came Nord Stream 2, which overturned the European energy strategy by declaring it incompetent for the offshore. As expected, the new strategy has fixed such holes and now plans funding for offshore wind farms, etc.… But this was not the end of the collapse of the Winter Package because it also aimed to diversify sources and suppliers, which again failed as much as internal contradictions, so much because of foreign policy - primarily relations with Russia and Turkey.

As bureaucrats plan to update the EU's Trans-European Energy Networks (TEN-E) regulation, the media triumphantly and blindly obediently stress that the new strategy "excludes oil and gas pipelines from EU funding for the first time", while opening the possibility of financing a new one. Hydrogen infrastructure, based on fossil fuels. Moreover, the EU does not hide it at all, and it simply does not address these contradictions at all. It only cites a ban on further financing of gas infrastructures and a few pages lower the expectation that by 2050 about half of the hydrogen produced will be obtained from fossil sources, primarily from gas, and subject to greenhouse gas storage. About 40 billion euros need to be invested in electrolysis infrastructure alone. Another 60 billion euros are needed to transport and distribute the hydrogen thus obtained. But even here, there is no mention of the fact that all existing greenhouse gas capture systems are still energy harmful because the process of pumping gases underground requires energy obtained from fossil sources.

Furthermore, the goals that the new strategy should meet state that "energy infrastructure is a key driver of the energy transition," and that the key goal of the updated Regulation is to put Europe on track to achieve climate neutrality by 2050 for environmental protection and a declared new growth strategy.