What will it take to end Europe's dependence on Russian natural gas?

Nov. 3, 2022

Europe may not have to rely indefinitely on Russian natural gas imports, according to a commentary piece published in Joule last month.

The research team modeled European natural gas and electricity systems to assess the feasibility and potential impact of a near-complete embargo on imports of Russian natural gas to Europe, beginning in October 2022. The research found that Europe can eliminate reliance on Russian natural gas by augmenting REPowerEU plans with a temporary boost in coal and recalibrated gas storage.

The REPowerEU plan, released by the European Commission, maps a European Union-wide pathway to reduce Russian natural imports by two-thirds by the end of 2022, with the complete elimination of Russian gas by 2027. It relies on four short-term solutions: increase pipeline gas and liquified natural gas imports from non-Russian sources, reduce gas demand in heating and industry, reduce gas-fired electricity generation and adopt flexible gas storage targets.

The Princeton-led research team modeled the power sector and gas network across Europe to analyze multiple feasible pathways to secure full independence from Russian natural gas five years sooner than the REPowerEU plan. The research also emphasized the importance of decreasing demand for both gas and electricity in the short term, and in the long term, showed nuclear and renewable energy  could replace the coal consumption that increased in the interim.

“Increasing renewables, electrification of heating and liquified natural gas imports will steadily replace the current policy levers and maintain Europe’s long-term energy transition,” said Neha Patankar a former postdoc in Princeton's ZERO lab and now an assistant professor at Binghamton University. 

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