(Reuters) -The European Union published plans on Wednesday to end its reliance on Russian gas, oil and coal by 2027, laying out measures to expand renewable energy faster, save more energy and hike imports of non-Russian fuels.
Gas heats homes, produces electricity and powers factories across Europe. The EU is gradually weaning itself off the fossil fuels causing climate change, but for now Russia supplies 40% of its gas and 27% of its oil imports - a heavy dependency that the EU vowed to end after Moscow invaded Ukraine.
Here are the key measures:
RENEWABLE ENERGY, ENERGY SAVINGS
To speed up the green shift, the European Commission proposed that 45% of EU energy should be renewable by 2030, replacing its current 40% proposal. The EU got 22% of its gross final energy consumption from renewable sources like wind, solar and biomass in 2020.
The higher target would see EU renewable energy capacity more than double to hit 1,236 gigawatts (GW) by 2030 and make solar the bloc's biggest electricity source. To get there, Brussels proposed a law allowing simplified one-year permits for some wind and solar projects, to unblock the years-long delays many projects face.
Countries would also be obliged to add solar energy installations like rooftop panels to new large commercial and public buildings from 2027, and to new homes from 2029.
The Commission also proposed a higher legally-binding target to cut EU energy consumption by 13% by 2030, against expected use, replacing its current 9% proposal. The EU is negotiating laws to renovate buildings faster to use less energy, and said voluntary actions like reducing heating and air conditioning use could cut gas demand by another 5%.
The legal proposals need approval from EU countries and lawmakers.
NEW GAS SUPPLIES, INFRASTRUCTURE
The Commission said the 155 billion cubic metres of gas Europe gets from Russia will mostly be replaced by low-carbon and renewable energy, and energy savings, but in the short term countries need more non-Russian fossil fuels.
The Commission said roughly 12 new gas and liquefied natural gas infrastructure projects would be needed pivot away from Russian gas, particularly in central and eastern European countries that rely on pipelines from Russia for the fuel. They should be able to run on renewable hydrogen in the future to avoid undermining climate goals, it said.
Individual companies are responsible for buying gas, but Brussels is launching a scheme to allow countries to jointly buy it. Concerns about Russian supply have already triggered a race among companies to secure supplies, with EU firms refilling storage after winter at record speed, despite sky-high gas prices.
The EU will also work with countries on a emergency plan to curtail non-essential industries, should Russia suddenly halt gas supplies. Moscow cut off supply to Poland and Bulgaria last month after they refused to pay for gas in roubles.
Taken together, the EU plans will require investments of 210 billion euros ($220.21 billion) by 2027 and 300 billion euros by 2030. That includes 10 billion euros for gas infrastructure and 2 billion euros for projects to import non-Russian oil, with the rest for clean energy.
Those investments include 86 billion euros for renewable energy and 27 billion for hydrogen infrastructure, 29 billion euros for power grids and 56 billion euros for energy savings and heat pumps.
Money would come from the EU's COVID-19 recovery fund, which contains 225 billion euros in unspent loans. The Commission asked EU countries to revise their spending plans for the fund to finance the measures. Brussels will also raise 20 billion euros by selling extra carbon market permits from a reserve.
($1 = 0.9537 euros)
(Reporting by Kate Abnett; editing by David Evans and Tomasz Janowski)