Three different directions in which the European Union could replace Russian natural gas
DATE: January 6th, 2024
AUTHORS: Alexandros Nikas et al.
TITLE: Three different directions in which the European Union could replace Russian natural gas
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine fuelled an energy crisis, which considerably impacted Europe given its heavy reliance on Russian natural gas imports. This study uses an ensemble of four global integrated assessment models, which are further soft-linked to two sectoral models, and explores the synergies and trade-offs among three approaches to living without Russian gas in Europe: (a) replacing with other gas imports, (b) boosting domestic energy production, and (c) reducing demand and accelerating energy efficiency. We find that substituting Russian gas from other trade partners would miss an opportunity to accelerate decarbonisation in end-use sectors while risking further fossil-fuel lock-ins, despite featuring the lowest gas price spikes and potentially reducing heating costs for end-users in the near term. Boosting domestic, primarily renewable, energy production on the other hand would instead require considerable investments, potentially burdening consumers. Energy demand reductions, however, could offer considerable space for further emissions cuts at the lowest power-sector investment costs; nonetheless, an energy efficiency-driven strategy would also risk relocation of energy-intensive industries, an aspect of increasing relevance to EU policymakers.