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EU’s underground gas storage facilities full, says Simson

The European Energy Commissioner, Kadri Simson, has emphasised that Russia no longer has leverage to manipulate Europe’s energy market as as happened after the invasion of Ukraine.

She said that this is because right now, the EU’s underground gas storage facilities are full.

Ms Simson also said that it was wonderful news that 36% of Ireland’s electricity in January was generated by wind because it gives industry and households here the chance to pay more affordable energy prices.

Speaking at an event organised by the European Liberal Energy Forum in Ennis, Co Clare, the Commissioner said all European states, have to finalise a national energy climate plan by 2030 and that means Ireland only has five and a half years to deliver all the renewable energy assets currently in planning.

Commissioner Simson emphasised that the European Commission has already given the Irish Government a very useful tool in the form of emergency planning measures to help the delivery of renewable energy projects following Russian manipulation of the EU energy market after the invasion of Ukraine.

“From the European Commission point of view, member states do have now measures to fast track planning procedures for energy projects and need to act faster,” she said.

She said that the EU cut its gas consumption after the Russian invasion of Ukraine and replaced natural gas with renewable energy in many states.

She pointed out that last year, for the first time ever, more electricity was produced from wind in the EU than from natural gas and that is something to be proud of.

The Commissioner said the development of Ireland’s offshore wind energy potential will help Irish consumers and also create new industrial opportunities.

Europe needs sustainable fuels and green hydrogen and it makes sense to produce these fuels somewhere where there is access to wind potential, she said.

Commissioner Simson acknowledged new production bottlenecks caused by the fact that there are now four times more offshore wind projects under planning than under construction, and said that this is resulting in a shortage of subsea cables and other essential supplies.

The Commissioner said the new target for a 90% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2040, as recommended by the European Commission earlier this week, represents a very important signal to investors and businesses to accelerate investment in renewable energy.

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