War in Ukraine, an unprecedented shock for energy system and accelerator of transition

Faced with the energy crisis, Europeans have enhanced their climatic ambitions and deployed renewable energies. However, they face a risk of overinvestment in liquefied natural gas infrastructure.

by perrine mouterde

In the wake of the invasion of Ukraine, in February 2022, the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, threatens to close the gas tap, of which Europeans are very dependent: more than 45 % of their imports come from Russia. In the precipitation, governments are looking for other sources of supply, prices are panicking and millions of citizens fear being deprived of heating. The shock collected by the energy system is unprecedented. He comes out deeply transformed, not in the short term but “for the decades to come”, according to the executive director of the International Energy Agency (IAI), Fatih Birol – and the crisis is not yet over.

Faced with this unprecedented deflagration, the fear was strong that the fight against climate change is not a collateral victim, and that the ambitions in the matter be relegated to the background. But if threats persist in the face of the risk of overinvestment in liquefied natural gas infrastructure (LNG), this scenario seems to have been largely avoided, more and more actors even believing that the war in Ukraine has accelerated the energy transition.

“The responses of governments around the world promise to make this crisis a historic and final turning point towards a cleaner, more affordable and safer energy system,” Fatih Birol said in December. “The desire of states to strengthen their security of supply by reducing their dependence on imported energy – dominated by fossils – and having more access to locally produced energy – a large part of which is likely to be from renewable sources – suggests that war may speed up the rate of energy transition “, Writes also Spencer Dale , the chief economist of the 2023 edition of the BP Energy Outlook.

Secure supply

The conflict has indeed brutally given to the center of attention of Europeans a major subject, hitherto relatively neglected: that of supply security. To ensure that the light can remain on in the homes, the parent states first at the most in a hurry and some announce the restoration or the extension of coal -fired power plants. These statements make fear of a massive return to this fossil fuel, the most greenhouse gas transmitter. In March 2022, electricity production from coal climbed 35 % compared to March 2021.

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/Media reports cited above.