The Future of Energy Security in Europe in Three Stories

The International Energy Agency has provided a 10-point plan to the EU for reducing reliance on Russian supplies. Senior analysts Anamaria Toebe and Silvia Messa from Insight by Volue look at concrete examples of how Europe is trying to secure its energy future.

Windpark and solar power generation

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has pushed Europe to re-think the security of its energy supplies. Monitoring the implications of events in Ukraine on the global energy markets, Volue’s Anamaria Toebe and Silvia Messa share three stories that illustrate how Europe is trying to secure its energy future.

Germany: Focus on renewables as “energy of freedom”

In Germany, the government is preparing plans to accelerate the energy transition and has described renewables as the “energies of freedom” that will decrease Germany’s dependence on Russian gas.

Germany has drafted a plan that will help the country obtain 100 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2035. The previous target simply stated "well before 2040”.

According to the plan – in the shape of amendments to the Renewable Energy Sources Act, the share of wind and solar power will reach 80 per cent already by 2030.

Germany expects its onshore wind energy capacity to double to up to 110 GW, while the offshore wind energy should reach 30 GW and solar energy would more than triple to 200 GW.

In addition, Germany approved support for two LNG import terminals this week and proposed a minimum gas storage level at the beginning of the winter in order to reduce the dependency on Russian gas in the future.

Italy: Reduces gas consumption and approves coal for emergencies

Italy imports approximately 45 per cent of gas from Russia. On 1 March, the government of Mario Draghi approved a decree that, among other things, will help the country cope with the emergency created by the war in Ukraine.

The decree authorises measures that aim to increase the gas supply/demand in Italy in two ways. The first is through the reduction of thermoelectric or power-to-gas consumption. The second is through the increase or maximisation of the production of alternative thermal units (coal and oil-indexed).

Overall, the demand for gas in terms of consumption would likely drop. There could be rationing or curtailments in the industry sector. At the same time, private households and the industry would use less gas because of the high prices.

Ukraine: Synchronisation of power grid with EU

Just one day before Russia invaded Ukraine, the Ukrainian electricity system was disconnected from neighbouring countries including Russia and Belarus.

The disconnection was scheduled before the tension on the borders started, and Ukraine’s transmission system operator Ukrenergo had been scheduled to operate in isolation mode between 23 and 27 February. This was part of the compulsory tests before Ukraine’s full synchronisation with the European system could go ahead in 2023.

On 23 February, the Integrated Power System of Ukraine (UPS) was joined with the Burshtyn Power Island (BPS) and has been operating synchronously since then.

The Ukrainian power system consists of two separate parts. UPS was integrated with the energy systems of Russia, Belarus and Moldova while BPS was synchronised with the European transmission system operators in 2003. In 2017, ENTSO-E and the Ukrainian transmission system operator signed an agreement on integrating UPS into the European network.

According to the original plan, the Ukrainian electricity system was supposed to reconnect back to the synchronous operation of Russia and Belarus on 27 February. However, the Energy Ministry in Kyiv refused the reintegration and requested ENTSO-E, the European association for the cooperation of transmission system operators, to accelerate the decision about the unification of the power system of Ukraine and Europe.

The European Energy Community Security of Supply Coordination Group convened on 1 March that a decision by ENTSO-E should be made as soon as possible, taking into account that the electrical systems of Ukraine and Moldova proved their reliability and stability during isolated mode operation in spite of the extremely challenging circumstances of the past days.

At the time of writing, DTEK CEO, Maksym Timchenko has said that Ukraine might start its emergency synchronisation with ENTSO-E already next week subject to technical approvals.

On 3 March, the Polish utility ZE PAK stated that it is ready to launch and modernise the 1.3 GW power link between Poland and Ukraine in order to speed up the synchronisation of Ukraine with the European grid.