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Pathways to European Independence from Russian Natural Gas

Lau, Michael; Ricks, Wilson; Jenkins, Jesse

Based on analysis and modeling of European electricity and gas systems, this report identifies several feasible paths for European countries to eliminate imports of natural gas from Russia by October 2022. Success requires augmenting measures planned in the European Commission’s REPowerEU plan with additional reductions in gas use for electricity generation and recalibration of gas storage targets to reflect reduced gas demand. In addition to scaling up wind and solar power, achieving requisite reductions in gas-fired power generation requires a temporary increase in the use of coal, which depends on securing additional imports from allies such as the United States. Despite increased reliance on coal for electricity generation, all core scenarios result in significant declines in European greenhouse gas emissions as lower gas demand offsets emissions from increased coal combustion. The overall strategy for European independence from Russian natural gas depends on a combination of (1) increased pipeline gas and liquified natural gas imports from alternative sources, (2) reducing gas demand in heating and industry, and
(3) reducing gas-fired electricity generation by temporarily increasing coal use and reducing electricity demand while accelerating renewable energy deployment. We also identify multiple combinations of these three levers that can eliminate Europe’s dependence on Russian gas, giving policymakers leeway to craft a preferred approach based on national priorities.

The open-source model of the European natural gas network developed for this work is available at https://github.com/ml6802/EU_Gas_Model/tree/main

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