Industry

Energy crisis dominates European agenda as winter nears

Europe is struggling to address a deepening energy crisis partly due to the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war as Moscow has suspended natural gas supplies in response to economic sanctions imposed by the West.

Governments are trying to diversify energy supplies and introduce measures to reduce demand and save energy as winter nears.

EU

The European Commission head Thursday announced an additional €200 million ($200 million) in support for Moldova's energy security during a visit to the Moldovan capital Chisinau.

"First, we are pledging €200 million to help Moldova meet its gas supply needs. This will consist of €100 million in grants and €100 million in loans. The money should be available from January 2023," Ursula von der Leyen said at a joint news conference with Moldovan President Maia Sandu in Chisinau.

“I hope that these measures combined will give Moldova much-needed support as it goes through the winter,” she added.

Moldova, a country of 2.5 million that relies on gas from Russia via Ukraine, has been suffering an acute energy crisis due to the ongoing Moscow-Kyiv war which started in February.

Sandwiched between Ukraine and Romania, the former Soviet country has faced power shortages following Russia's attacks on Ukraine's energy infrastructure and cutbacks in gas delivered by Russia's state-owned gas company Gazprom.

Gazprom said in a statement last month that gas shipments to Moldova were reduced by nearly 30%.

Blaming Moldova for violating its obligations in natural gas contracts, Gazprom warned that if this situation continues, it may completely stop natural gas shipments to Moldova.

Moldova sits on Ukraine’s southwest border and is located around 50 kilometers (31 miles) from the Ukrainian port city of Odesa.

Poland

Poland plans to increase its coal production as part of the government’s energy strategy, Climate and Environment Minister Anna Moskwa said on Thursday.

Two-thirds of the country’s coal consumption is locally produced, but Poland also imports from Colombia, South Africa, Australia and Indonesia.

These imports are costly, as the majority are transported by ship to Polish ports or transferred by train from Amsterdam.

Speaking to the Polish weekly magazine Gosc Niedzielny, Moskwa confirmed that local coal is still dominant and the country will ensure energy security from not only coal but nuclear and gas also.

The country is slated to construct three nuclear plants, which, when completed, will result in a reduced share of natural gas and coal in its energy mix.

As part of its energy strategy, six nuclear power units with a total capacity of 6 to 9 gigawatts will be built in the country.

The first reactor, which will be built in accordance with the agreement with the US, will begin operations in 2033 and generate 1-1.6 gigawatts of power. Subsequent reactors will be built every two years.

A memorandum of understanding was signed with South Korea at the end of October for the development of the nation’s second nuclear power plant.

France

The French parliament approved amendments to the 2022 budget on Wednesday, aimed at cushioning the shock of rising prices by the end of the year.

"With this vote, the National Assembly has adopted essential measures to continue protecting the daily lives of French people," said Gabriel Attal, the delegate minister of public finance.

The bill provides for the payment of an energy check of €100 ($100) to €200 for the 12 million lowest-income households.

The government majority and the opposition also voted together for a motion to provide €230 million in aid to households that heat with wood, whether logs or so-called pellets, cylindrical sticks whose prices have skyrocketed.

Also, in view of rising energy costs, support for universities, the army, and farmers has also been approved. The €0.30 per liter refund at gas stations was extended until Nov. 15.

The assembly also approved a €5 million subsidy for the press to counter the rising paper prices. The new measures must now be approved by the French Senate.

Spain

Spanish utility and renewable energy firm Iberdrola announced on Wednesday that it will invest €47 billion ($47 billion) in the energy transition from 2023 to 2025.

“The record global investment plans we have set out today will help us to bring more self-sufficiency and resilience against potential energy shocks in the countries where we operate, by reducing their dependency on oil and gas,” Ignacio Galan, the firm’s executive chairman, said in a statement.

The bulk of the money – €27 billion – will go toward bolstering electricity networks, which the company says are key to boosting renewable energy capacity.

Source: Anadolu Agency