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    EU members at odds over energy strategy


Some are calling for the accelerated deployment of renewables, while others want gas and nuclear to be recognised as part of the energy transition.

by: Joseph Murphy

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EU members at odds over energy strategy

EU energy ministers are meeting in Luxembourg on October 26 to discuss measures to ease the unfolding energy crisis, and there is some disagreement between member states over the solutions.

Austria, Germany, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Latvia and the Netherlands issued a joint statement on October 25 urging against any reforms to internal energy markets. They called for an acceleration of the deployment of renewables as a means of avoiding future spikes in energy prices.

"We share the analysis of the European Commission regarding the causes of the current price spike lying primarily in the encouraging global economic recovery and further fossil fuels demand and supply factors, but not in the design of EU energy markets or climate policy," the nine countries said. " A well-managed energy transition is not the cause, but part of the solution to keep prices affordable and predictable."

However, other member states including Hungary and Poland have called for the EU to recognise the continuing need for gas as a source of baseload power capacity during the energy transition. Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban last week described EU plans to tackle climate change as a "utopian fantasy."

"Raising the price, having a new regulation, rocketing the prices to the sky, destroying the middle class," Orban said ahead of a summit on October 21, according to Reuters. "Common sense on one side and fantasy on the other one. And utopian fantasy kills us – that's the problem with energy prices as well."

Meanwhile, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia and Romania have called on the commission to recognise nuclear power as a green energy source. 

The European Commission has been clear it views the current crisis as the result of an over-reliance on gas imports, rather than the bloc's energy and climate policies. It announced a "toolbox" of proposals on October 13 that EU member states could adopt to protect consumers from the energy price spike, including support for low-income users. Over the longer term, it called for an expansion in renewables and the development of batteries and hydrogen to store their energy.

Another factor behind the crisis has been cuts in gas production in Europe, including at the giant Groningen gas field in the Netherlands that is due to close next year, as well as low output at wind farms.