In response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, leaders of European nations have swiftly transitioned their energy reliance from Russian fossil fuels to alternative sources.
- In addition to sending monetary aid and military equipment, Europe has shown its support for Ukraine through the difficult task of cutting a good part of its energy reliance on Russia.
- Europe has long championed a transition to renewable energy, but the continent’s new energy reliance looks different than European leaders once envisioned.
- Governments have sought alternative fossil fuel sources, sometimes at much higher prices, and started mining and burning coal once again.
- The cost of European energy has increased over the last year, with nearly $1 trillion spent last year, Bloomberg reports.
- Though European countries may be struggling to adapt to new energy sources, the EU has successfully taken away a source of revenue from Russia. Last year, the EU spent nearly $1 billion daily buying gas, oil, and coal from Russia.
Why it’s news
Europe’s transition away from Russian fuel hasn’t been easy and remains expensive, but the speed and efficiency of the change were unprecedented. If Europe hadn’t already started transitioning to renewable energy, the energy crisis could have been much worse.
Though the EU has had to turn to energy sources like coal, the frequent use of carbon-neutral energy actually lowered the emissions output last year. Warmer than usual weather this year also helped reduce Europe’s energy dependence as citizens could turn off the heat during what is traditionally the harshest part of winter.
The number of solar panels installed in Europe last year was up 35% compared to 2021. Consumer interest in solar panels revived as Europeans sought ways to reduce their energy bills. The number of citizens using solar has now exceeded the EU’s goals, even ahead of its planned solar incentive projects.
Though not as popular as solar, wind power also increased but did not meet the expected levels. Inflationary prices cut into the expected wind power growth.
Still, Europe does rely on Russia for some natural gas imports, and the continent has substituted Russian fuel with fuel from other countries like Norway. Inexpensive gas piped from Russia to Europe has helped keep energy costs down. Now, energy prices are rising.