Boosting domestic gas production can improve our security of supply and reduce prices for consumers

By Tsvetelina Penkova , Tsvetelina Penkova (S&D Group -Bulgaria), Member of the ITRE Committee

The long-term energy and environmental goals of the EU are supported by most of our citizens. What they fear the most, however, is the uncertainty around the upcoming transformation. The disruption in our energy system will have to be managed in a way that people feel safe about their careers as well as for the prices they will pay for the consumed energy. This is precisely why we need instruments like the Just Transition Fund and the Social Climate Fund to support the regions, which will be hit the hardest by the energy transition.

EU policies should focus precisely on the most vulnerable citizens and aim at lifting them out of energy poverty. We cannot talk about having a strong union if some of our citizens feel left behind.

The inflation we see in the last months is caused mostly by the high energy prices. The energy system of the future is one that integrates all available technologies. It will require the most efficient technologies that bring the biggest improvement in the value chain at an affordable price. We need pragmatic decisions on how to best decarbonise our energy production in the long term, while we keep the prices manageable for our businesses and consumers.

We need to invest and improve all aspects of our production and consumption of energy. We need to improve our energy efficiency so we can consume less in our production facilities. We have to use less for the heating and cooling of our residential and office buildings. We need to decrease the usage of fossil fuels. This is the baseline for the measures set by the Fit for 55 package, which aims to speed up the mid-term transformation by 2030. The RePowerEU initiative also doubles-down on these targets. We should be aware, however, that we need technical time to reach our goals.

The proposed Taxonomy Complementary Delegated Act, which lists natural gas and nuclear energy as transitional technologies is an attempt to do just that. There will be no single technology that will miraculously help us transform our energy system overnight.

We should not forget that the baseload and balancing power are crucial. This is precisely where the role of nuclear energy and natural gas comes into play. If we now want to truly reduce our dependence, we should do something more than simply finding alternative suppliers. We should not just change our dependency form one supplier to another. Moreover, the current global liquefied gas market just cannot absorb the demand we want to put on it. There is not enough capacity for transport and storage at the moment.

The high prices of natural gas on the international markets make it financially viable for EU companies to explore the possibilities for domestic production within our own borders. Contrary to the popular belief, Europe has not depleted all of its gas fields. There are significant reserves that are already mapped and which could help us reduce our dependency from outside sources.

According to the latest research, if we use the combined gas reserves in the EU and Norway we could get an equivalent amount as the volumes we import from Russia for about 20 years.

This is a considerable resource we should not ignore. Especially when it could generate domestic job creation and lead to more innovations in the field. EU companies are already one of the leaders in the field. The international situations has once again reminded us that we should invest in improving our own capacity and not rely so much on outside suppliers. Moreover, the development of domestic production facilities will bring jobs to areas where they are needed the most. Our citizens demand from us to deliver on their vision for the future and it would be unacceptable if we do not use all of our potential resources to do that.