Vulcan Insight

Energy Commissioner Simson on the 1-year anniversary of RePowerEU

10 March 2023

On Thursday (9 March) Kadri Simson, the European Commissioner for Energy, spoke to the European Parliament’s Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) at the Committee’s event on “One year of Russia’s invasion and war of aggression against Ukraine”. The subject of her speech was the energy outlook for the EU this winter & beyond. 

The war sent oil prices to a record, leading to unsustainable energy prices for industry and citizens across Europe, leading to the Commission’s first REPowerEU Communication, aimed to move the Union off Russian energy exports, on 8 March 2022. 

In her contribution, Commissioner Simson reflected on the past year, the invasion’s impact on Ukraine’s energy system and on the EU’s REPowerEU strategy. Building on the proposals of the European Green Deal, REPowerEU aims to attain energy savings, diversification of energy supplies, and significant growth of renewables to replace fossil fuels in homes, industry and power generation.

The Estonian Commissioner commenced by portraying Ukraine’s situation, noting the country’s efforts to transform its energy framework, which was heavily disturbed by the Russian attacks. This week, Russian forces pounded several cities in Ukraine, knocking out electricity, and forcing Europe’s largest nuclear plant in Zaporizhzhia off the grid for a sixth time. The Russian attacks cause notable risks of incidents for technicians and engineers. Furthermore, speaking off the EU’s reactions to the Russian invasion, the Commissioner pointed out the Union’s efforts to synchronise the Moldovan and Ukrainian energy systems, the sanctions against Russia as well as the delivery of generators and transformers to Ukraine. 

Secondly, Simson addressed the Union’s efforts under REPowerEU. She noted that the increase in gas supplies from non-Russian sources was almost 10% higher than the estimate in last March’s Communication, while the Union also managed to phase out Russian gas by two-thirds. Among EU Member States, the energy demand dropped by more than 19% between August 2022 and January 2023, which lead the EU to save 42 bcm of gas. 

Regarding renewables, the Commissioner stressed that a record for solar energy was reached in 2022, alongside a notable growth in the production of wind energy. Besides industry, Simson also points out the efforts of individual citizens who increasingly make use of solar panels and other green sources of energy.

The Commissioner concluded her remarks by looking into the future. Primarily, she wants to propose to Member States to extend the voluntary demand reduction target of 15% into the next year. Simson also addressed her goal of being entirely independent of Russian gas as soon as possible. Lastly, Simson pointed out concrete European policy targets, namely:

•          The speedy implementation of the Renewable Energies Directive, which was agreed upon by the Parliament and Council in the night to Friday (10 March).

•          She will launch a practical initiative to promote biomethane by the end of 2023.

•          The EU needs to advance the development of large-scale offshore wind projects. 

•          She advocates to include grid manufacturing in the Commission upcoming Net-Zero Industry Act.

•          The Commission aims to prioritise renewables in next week’s reform of the electricity market design.

The main targets for the near future are timely preparation for the coming winter, ending the import of Russian gas, and further notable progresses in the production of renewables. In the upcoming months, Member States plan to pool energy demand and sign their first joint gas contracts. Ukraine is set to join this common scheme.