Simson: Russian gas needs to be replaced by other energy sources

EU Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson.
EU Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

Russia's war in Ukraine is forcing Europe to reconsider its natural gas consumption, and people are also prepared to support policy decisions that may otherwise be unpopular, EU Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson said in an appearance on ETV's "Esimene stuudio" on Sunday night.

According to Simson, Russian gas supplies being cut off would have a different impact in every EU member state.

"We're at a point in time where Europe's gas consumption is decreasing significantly," she said. "We're using 20 percent less gas in March than in January, and 40 percent less in April already. This is because there are very many countries in Europe that heat their homes on gas."

In the initial months, Europe would have gas reserves, and agreements with international producers that can compensate to an extent with LNG reserves. "Continuous talks are indeed underway with countries whose gas markets are linked with pipeline gas," the commissioner explained.

Where possible, she continued, natural gas needs to be replaced with other energy sources. "A perfect example — in many cities, gas isn't even used for central heat; they have wood pellets for that," she said.

State leaders are discussing stopping buying natural gas from Russia, and according to Simson, people are prepared to support policy decisions that will not encompass life continuing as it did before the war.

"Studies show that people in all member states are prepared to carry a personal load with higher energy prices, sometimes even with a loss in businesses' competitiveness, in order to show the aggressor their place," Simson said. "I think that this backdrop will help our government leaders make their decisions."

According to the energy commissioner, several measures are necessary, as LNG supplies alone would not be sufficient for meeting the needs of Europe's natural gas market.

"We need to find gas from producers who have more to offer, plus utilize other energy sources as well — be they solar or wind," she explained, adding that in the current situation, this would unfortunately also mean coal again as well, which is still produced in several EU countries, and oil shale in Estonia. "Unfortunately, that is the acceptable alternative in this crisis."

Europe consumes approximately 90 billion cubic meters of natural gas for heating and cooking. "If even just some people cut down on this, if buildings were renovated as quickly as possible or were no longer heated by natural gas, that would be a significant improvement, " Simson said.

According to the commissioner, the natural gas market is very emotional, and it makes no sense to forecast prices in advance.

"We have to generally be prepared to pay more for our energy consumption," she said. "If we aren't prepared to do so, then it follows that we in Estonia and the rest of Europe aren't interested in showing the aggressor their place via each sanction affecting both sides."

Simson stressed, however, that the war has not derailed the EU's planned green revolution, but rather is expediting it on several fronts.

"One of the primary starting points of the green revolution is that we are too dependent on imported fossil fuels and that we need to replace them with local products," she said.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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