EU moves to coal and accuses Russia of ‘rogue actions’ regarding gas

An official from the EU stated Wednesday that the European Union will temporarily switch back to coal in order to deal with the slowing Russian gas flow. This was due to a tight market for gas and skyrocketing prices, which has triggered a race to find alternative fuels.

European leaders have stepped up to Russia’s defense as the flows through its Nord Stream 1 pipeline are reduced to 40% capacity. This is a further sign of tension after Ukraine’s invasion. Europe has imposed tough sanctions against Moscow.

The International Energy Agency (IEA), which is responsible for addressing the crisis of gas shortages, stated that Europe must take over Russian energy supplies and boost efficiency, renewables, and nuclear power.

IEA chief Fatih Birol stated that Russia could continue to make excuses for cutting supplies or even stopping them entirely as winter approaches. Russia denies that its supply cuts were premeditated.

The Baltics could be another flashpoint in the energy crisis.

According to Lithuania’s president, Russia could shut down a power grid that she controls in retaliation for its blockade of Russian goods shipments to Moscow’s Kaliningrad exclave.

The Kremlin promised retaliation but did not specify what form it might take.

A senior official from the European Commission stated that while Europe may temporarily seek fossil fuel alternatives for Russian gas, these actions will not affect long-term climate change goals.

Elina Bardram (acting director for International Affairs and Climate Finance, European Commission) stated that the illegal invasion of Ukraine by Russia has created an emergency situation within the EU. She spoke to the Africa Energy Forum in Brussels.

“With the very rogue actions we are observing in Gazprom lowering flow very suddenly,” she said. She was referring to coal use.

A series of measures have been developed by countries to deal with a supply crisis. This is to address concerns about energy scarcity and inflation that could threaten Europe’s resolve not to lift sanctions against Russia.

Christian Lindner, German Finance Minister, stated Tuesday evening that there was a risk of a severe economic crisis. He also stressed the need to find alternatives to energy scarcity for three years or more.

The flow of Russian gas to Europe via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline was steady Wednesday. However, it was significantly lower than last week, when Gazprom reduced capacity due to technical issues.

ENI, an Italian energy company, requested gas from Gazprom Wednesday but was not fully confirmed.

The benchmark gas price in Europe was at 127 euros ($133/MWh), which is below the 335 euro peak, but up over 300% from its level last year.

Europe is trying to fill its winter gas storage at 55%, as it fears more disruptions from Russia’s supply. Russia has already cut off some of its customers.

Lindner’s warning was issued after Germany’s BDI industrial association warned that recession in Europe’s biggest economy would be inevitable if Russia stops gas deliveries.

While the EU and other developed countries have approved Russian oil and coal, they have not banned gas imports.

According to the IEA, ageing nuclear infrastructure could be a way to reduce high prices and shortages.

“In light of renewed interest in nuclear power’s role as clean energy transitions, war has highlighted the need for… exploration options for… investment both in new facilities and the reopening existing (uranium-conversion) plants.”

The IEA stated that while $2.4 trillion was set to be spent on energy this year, it included record spending on renewables, but did not address the supply gap or tackle climate change.

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