Dependency challenges to new European energy ambitions

The Ukraine crisis has exposed the vulnerability of European energy systems. As the EU and the UK rapidly revise their energy strategies, it is important to appreciate the very different starting points of European countries regarding their energy mix and thus their ability to enhance energy security and independence – in particular weaning themselves off a dependence on Russia – while maintaining affordability for consumers and pursuing net zero ambitions.

This interactive presents information on Europe’s dependence on energy imports, Russian gas imports, and the role of natural gas in electricity and heat generation. It also highlights the disparity between countries in gas production capacity and demand.

With its REPowerEU plan, the European Union has targeted the reduction of imports of Russian gas by two thirds in one year. In a landmark agreement with the United States, the EU has committed to increase its purchases of liquified natural gas to replace up to a third of its current imports from Russia. The diversification of gas supplies will be accompanied by short-term interventions to protect consumers and companies facing high costs and to mandate minimum gas storage levels for member countries. Longer-term ambitions will focus on improving energy efficiency, investing in renewables, and replacing gas in heating and electricity generation. The United Kingdom has also announced plans to phase out imports of oil from Russia, and is considering halting the purchase of Russian gas.

The UK is planning to strengthen its energy security by expanding its offshore wind and nuclear capacity, with nuclear alone expected to generate 25% of the country’s electricity by 2050.

In the short term, end consumers can also play a key role in reducing dependence by turning down thermostats as domestic heating in many countries relies heavily on gas.