Rising energy prices, security of supply… and green transition – POLITICO

The current geopolitical situation has a significant impact on the energy markets in Europe. How can the EU continue to lead its energy transition in this context?

“Naturally, the main concerns in Europe at the moment are high energy prices and security of supply. This, however, is not in contradiction with the energy transition. We must be ambitious about reducing of our carbon footprint, but to ensure an orderly transition, we must also prioritize security of supply for our citizens and industry.

Josu Jon Imaz, CEO, Repsol | via Repsol

“In Europe, we have embarked on an ideological energy transition in which we select, reject and prevent certain energy investments for ideological reasons, not scientific or technical ones. As a result, consumers and businesses pay more for energy, industries become less competitive – some fail due to high energy prices – and even worse, our CO2 emissions increase as we switch from gas to coal to generate electricity. We must therefore rethink our approach on the basis of technological neutrality.

Worse still, our CO2 emissions increase as we switch from gas to coal to generate electricity.

“There is no doubt about the number of tonnes of CO2 we need to reduce to reach our targets. This goal must be set in stone. The key is to find the paths that will allow us to reach net zero in the fastest and most cost-effective way, by exploiting and strengthening Europe’s industrial and technological capacities. With COVID-19, the goal was clear: find an effective vaccine to fight the virus. No technological or scientific constraint has been established. Decarbonization must be approached in the same way, avoiding determinism and letting all technologies compete and play their part.

“This will allow us to promote European industry and local solutions that will improve our security of supply while reducing emissions to achieve our climate goals.

The key is to find the pathways that can get us to net zero in the fastest and most cost effective way.

“One such solution is renewable liquid fuels, encompassing advanced biofuels and synthetic fuels, also known as e-fuels, produced with renewable hydrogen and captured CO2 as the only feedstock. They will be a necessary complement to electrification in the transport sector, expanding the range of low-emission mobility technologies, with consumers choosing those that best suit their needs. Europe has the opportunity to lead the development and production of these fuels.

Why do you think renewable fuels could become an opportunity for Europe?

“Firstly, the production of renewable fuels in Europe will help guarantee security of supply and energy independence. They can be made locally with waste that today mostly ends up in landfills or burned. Europe has so far taken a very blind stance in favor of electrification when it comes to decarbonising the transport sector. Electric vehicles will play an important role in the coming decades, but they alone will not be enough to meet our reduction targets. Worse still, we could end up replacing our energy dependence on Russia with another dependence on rare metals and batteries from China.

The production of renewable fuels in Europe will help guarantee security of supply and energy independence.

“European industry is well placed to produce decarbonisation solutions for mobility. The manufacture of renewable fuels represents a huge opportunity for the growth of industrial activity, contributing to the technological development of the sector and generating quality jobs. The manufacture of advanced biofuels will catalyze the circular economy in Europe, creating new jobs, especially in rural areas.

Repsol renewable fuels, an alternative to decarbonize mobility | via Repsol

“Second, the use of these fuels already allows us to reduce our current emissions and will accelerate the decarbonisation of transport, especially where electrification is not currently viable, such as heavy road transport, maritime and air transport. These fuels are also a solution for light road vehicles because they work with existing combustion engines and allow us to immediately start reducing our emissions without having to wait for the renewal of the entire vehicle fleet. Thus, they offer an immediate solution for sectors, territories and consumers who do not have electrification within their reach in the short or medium term and can help us avoid the segregation of the population between those who can buy a car. electric now and those who can’t.”

Can we count on a sustainable domestic supply to produce the fuels?

“The raw material to produce these fuels is abundant. Advanced biofuels can be made from a wide range of wastes, such as crop residues, prunings, manure and animal fats from our agricultural and agri-food industries; leaves, stemwood and logging and sawmill residues from the forestry sector; as well as used cooking oils and organic parts of our solid household waste. The treatment of these residues does not involve or compete with products intended for food and promotes the reuse of resources through circular processes. Imperial College London estimates that the total availability of potential sustainable biomass in Europe is more than sufficient to provide feedstock for renewable fuels.

The EU will not achieve its climate goals without renewable fuels.

What will be the impact on EU climate ambitions?

“The EU will not achieve its climate goals without renewable fuels. Liquid fuels now account for 93-95% of transport demand in Europe, and with the bottlenecks that still exist for mass deployment of electric vehicles – in the battery value chain and in transport infrastructure charging – we need renewable fuels to start reducing our emissions now. in a profitable way.

“In the short and medium term, advanced biofuels made from non-food organic waste are a solution already available on the market and a quick and immediate way to reduce mobility-related emissions by up to 90%, compared to conventional fuels. traditional. In the medium term, synthetic fuels will enter the market as another net-zero emission alternative that is fully compatible with existing combustion engines.

“We need these solutions to complement electrification and advance the decarbonization of our mobility. We simply cannot afford to wait for the full deployment of electric vehicles to solve this challenge. There’s too much at stake.”

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