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The Energy Union gets simplified, robust and transparent governance

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An ambitious political agreement on the governance of the Energy Union was reached today between negotiators from the Commission, the European Parliament and the Council.

With today’s deal the Member States of the European Union will be equipped to govern the Energy Union – this common project aimed at ensuring that all Europeans have access to secure, affordable and climate-friendly energy. This new governance system will enable the European Union to realise its goals of becoming world leader on renewables, putting energy efficiency first, provide a fair deal for consumers and set the course for the EU’s strategy long-term greenhouse gas reduction.

By building trust and consensus between the Member States on energy and climate matters the governance will set the best way to achieve the energy transition and the modernisation of the EU economy and industry. The governance of the Energy Union will be instrumental to enable the political process required to deliver what 73% of EU citizens want: a common energy policy for all EU Member States.

Today’s deal means that four out of the eight legislative proposals in the 2016 Clean Energy for All Europeans package have been agreed by the co-legislators, after yesterday’s agreement on Energy Efficiency (see STATEMEMT/18/3997) and the agreements on 14 June and 14 May on the revised Renewable Energy Directive and the Energy Performance in Buildings Directive respectively. These four pieces of legislation complement the revision of the Emissions Trading System, the Effort Sharing Regulation and the Land Use Change and Forestry Regulation that were also adopted earlier this year. Thus, progress and momentum towards completing the Energy Union and combatting climate change are well under way. The Juncker Commission, working under its political priority “a resilient Energy Union and a forward-looking climate change policy“, is delivering.

This regulation will ensure that the objectives of the Energy Union, especially the EU’s 2030 energy and climate targets – reduction of 40% of greenhouse gas emissions, a minimum of 32 % renewables in the EU energy mix and the 32.5 % goal of energy efficiency savings – are achieved by setting out a political process defining how EU countries and the Commission work together, and how individual countries should cooperate, to achieve the Energy Union’s goals. This will be done by making sure that national objectives and policies are coherent with EU goals, while at the same time allowing individual countries flexibility to adapt to national conditions and needs. The regulation will equally promote long-term certainty and predictability for investors. The new rules stress the importance of regional cooperation in the development and implementation of energy and climate policies. EU countries are also called on to encourage their citizens to participate in the preparation of the plans. This will ensure that the views of citizens and businesses as well as regional and local authorities are heard. This will set a new relationship between European citizens and decision makers so that the governance and its national energy and climate plans all Member States of the EU to build further consensus on the best way to achieve the energy transition and move from a situation of decision by a few to a situation of action by all. This will contribute to have all Member States making the best and most cost-efficient choices and the right investments so that their energy decisions climate-consistent and avoid costly lock-ins.

Commission Vice-President for the Energy Union Maroš Šefčovič said: “With this ambitious agreement on the Energy Union’s governance, we put in place its cornerstone. It will enhance transparency for the benefit of all actors and investors, in particular. It will simplify monitoring and reporting of obligations under the Energy Union, prioritizing quality over quantity. And it will help us deliver on promises in the field of energy, climate and beyond. Now I am looking forward to the Member States’ draft energy and climate plans by the end of this year, as they send a strong signal to investors who need clarity and predictability. The Energy Union is on track, going from strength to strength.”

Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Cañete said: After agreeing on renewable energy last week, and on energy efficiency yesterday, today’s deal is another major delivery in our transition to clean energy. For the first time we will have an Energy Union Governance, fixed in the European Union rule book, encompassing all sectors of the energy policy and integrating climate policy in line with the Paris Agreement. When finalised by the Member States in their national plans, this will translate into the right investments to modernise the EU economy and energy systems, creating new jobs, lower energy bills for Europeans and reduce costly energy imports to the EU. One thing is certain, with the Energy Union governance we have the necessary stepping stone for the preparation of Long-Term Strategy to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases that are warming up the planet and changing the climate.”

Main achievements:

  • Calls for each Member State to prepare a national energy and climate plan for the period 2021 to 2030, covering all the five dimension of the Energy Union and taking into account the longer-term perspective. These national plans would be comparable throughout the EU. Assessments of the draft plans, and recommendations by the Commission, will result in final plans that ensure that the 2030 climate and energy targets will be reached in a coherent, collaborative and least-cost way across the EU.
  • Aligns the frequency and timing of reporting obligations across the five dimensions of the Energy Union and with the Paris Climate Agreement, significantly enhancing transparency and delivering a reduction of the administrative burden for the Member States, the Commission and other EU Institutions.
  • Ensures that EU and Member States can work together towards further enhancing the ambition set up in the Paris Climate agreement and strengthens regional cooperation across the Energy Union dimensions.
  • Introduces the necessary flexibility for Member States to reflect national specificities and fully respects their freedom to determine their energy mix.
  • Ensures the follow-up of the progress made at Member State level to the collective achievement of the binding EU renewables target, the EU energy efficiency target and the 15% interconnection target.
  • Introduces a robust mechanism to ensure the collective attainment of the EU renewable and energy efficiency targets.
  • Establishes a clear and transparent regulatory framework for the dialogue with civil society in Energy Union matters and enhances regional cooperation.

Next steps

Following this political agreement, the text of the Regulation will have to be formally approved by the European Parliament and the Council. Once formally adopted by both co-legislators in the coming months, the Regulation on the Governance of the Energy Union will be published in the Official Journal of the Union and will enter into force 20 days after publication.

Background

The Regulation on the Governance of the Energy Union is part and parcel of the implementation of the Juncker Commission priorities to build “a resilient Energy Union and a forward-looking climate change policy”. The Commission wants the EU to lead the clean energy transition. For this reason the EU has committed to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40% by 2030, while modernising the EU’s economy and delivering on jobs and growth for all European citizens. In doing so, it is guided by four main goals: putting energy efficiency first, achieving global leadership in renewable energies, providing a fair deal for consumers and being a leader in the fight against climate change. To put these goals into action, a robust governance system of the Energy Union is needed.

To that effect, the Commission presented on 30 November 2016, as part of the Clean Energy for All Europeans, package, its proposal for a Regulation on the Governance of the Energy Union. The Regulation as provisionally approved emphasises the importance of meeting the EU’s 2030 energy and climate targets, sets out how EU countries and the Commission should work together through an iterative process and how individual countries should cooperate to achieve the Energy Union’s goals. It takes into account the fact that different countries can contribute to the Energy Union in different ways. It also puts obligations on Member States to plan for the low carbon development in the longer run, at least 30 years from now.

If an individual country’s draft integrated National Energy and Climate Plan does not sufficiently contribute to reaching the Energy Union’s objectives, or if the EU collectively does not make sufficient progress towards these objectives, the Commission may issue recommendations to countries. The provisionally agreed Regulation also includes other ways of ensuring that the new plans are fully developed and implemented: in the area of renewable energy, these could include additional national measures (ranging from contributions to a financing platform to measures in the heating and cooling and transport sectors) and EU-level measures. In the area of energy efficiency, additional measures could in particular aim to improve the energy efficiency of products, buildings and transport.

The Regulation also foresees a more streamlined electronic reporting system, to ensure robust and transparent information in this area. The Regulation will from 2021 replace the Climate Monitoring Mechanism Regulation EU 525/2013, which governs EU’s and Member States reporting obligations towards the UN.

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The Development and Geopolitics of New Energy Vehicles in Anglo-American Axis Countries

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While the global development of green energy and industries has been an ongoing matter, the war launched by Russia in Ukraine adds a deeper geopolitical dimension to it. In this shift, the “Anglo-American Axis”, comprising the United Kingdom and the United States, may once again lead the way.

Take the UK as an example. In promoting green energy and green industry, and reducing its carbon emissions, a series of seemingly radical policies have been introduced in the past two years. The UK government released the “Ten-Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution” in November 2020, proposing the development of offshore wind power, in addition to promoting the development of low-carbon hydrogen, and providing advanced nuclear energy, accelerating the transition to zero-emission vehicles, among others. It also includes action plans for the reduction of 230 million tons of carbon emissions in the transport and construction industries in the next decade.

In the policy paper Energy White Paper: Powering Our Net Zero Future published in December 2020, the UK has planned for the transformation of the energy system, and strive to achieve the goal of ne-zero carbon emissions in the energy system by 2050. On the conventional energy front, it announced a phase-out of existing coal power plants by October 2024. Focusing on the fields of energy, industry, transportation, construction and others, it aims at reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 68% by 2030. Additionally, the UK has also launched the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) on January 1, 2021, setting a cap on total greenhouse gas emissions for industrial and manufacturing companies, with the objective of achieving a net-zero emissions target by 2050. In March 2021, it took the lead among the G7 countries to launch the Industrial Decarbonization Strategy, supporting the development of low-carbon technologies and improving industrial competitiveness. The plan is to significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions from manufacturing companies by 2030 and build the world’s first net-zero emissions industrial zone by 2040.

In terms of public transport, there is the March 2021 National Bus Strategy, and a green transformation plan for the bus industry is proposed. In July of the same year, the Transport Decarbonization Plan is announced, further integrating low-carbon transformation in transportation such as railways, buses, and aviation, and promoting the electrification of public and private transportation. At present, there are more than 600,000 plug-in electric vehicles in the UK, and the production of new energy vehicles exceeds one-fifth of the total car production. In the nation’s new car sales for February 2022, electric vehicle sales accounted for 17.7% of the market, the market share of plug-in hybrid vehicle sales is 7.9%. Adding traditional hybrid vehicles, electric vehicles account for more than one-third of the sales.

On April 8, 2022, the UK government announced the annual development goals for new energy vehicles. It is stipulated that by 2024, all-electric vehicles must occupy 22% of the market. This proportion rises to 52% in 2028 and 80% in 2030. The country’s authority hopes that these mandatory policies will force carmakers to, by 2035, increase the share of electric vehicles in sales every year, when all models must achieve zero emissions. It will then ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2030 and hybrid cars from 2035, under plans unveiled two years ago.

As the world’s largest automobile consumer, the United States has also put forward the development plan for new energy vehicles. It should be pointed out that the marketization forces represented by Tesla have played a strong and spontaneous role in the U.S.’ development of new energy vehicles. On this basis, the supporting policies introduced by the U.S. government will have greater policy flexibility. After the Biden administration came to power, there are changes in the negative attitude of the Trump administration towards the new energy industry, and an agreement returning to the Paris Agreement has been signed. To achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement, the U.S. government plans to increase the sales of new energy vehicles (including plug-in hybrid, pure electric, and fuel cell vehicles) to 40-50% by 2030. The government and industry will provide subsidies for the purchase of these vehicles, improve the charging network, invest in research and development, and provide subsidies for the production of the vehicles and their spare parts. On March 31, 2021, the Biden administration proposed to invest USD 174 billion in supporting the development of the U.S. electric vehicle market, which involves improving the U.S. domestic industrial chain. It targets to construct 500,000 charging stations, electrify school buses, public transport, and federal fleets by 2030. In President Biden’s USD 1.75 trillion stimulus bill passed by the House of Representatives that year, there was a subsidy mechanism for new energy vehicles and additional subsidies for traditional American car companies.

Major U.S. domestic and international automakers, United Auto Workers, Alliance for Automotive Innovation, the California government, the U.S. Climate Alliance, as well as other industrial and governmental agencies have issued a joint statement and support the Biden administration to accelerate the development of the new energy vehicle industry, so as to strengthen the leadership of the U.S. in this field. On the basis of marketization, the strong support of the U.S. to the new energy vehicle industry will greatly promote the development of this particular market in the country.

Researchers at ANBOUND believe that the UK and the American strategies and series of policies for the development of new energy vehicles are not merely concerning industry and green development. Instead, they carry profound influence and significance. Chan Kung, founder of ANBOUND, pointed out that the policy signals given by the Anglo-American axis represent the shape of the things to come. The development of new energy vehicles is not a purely industrial or technological issue. It is conspicuous that such a development means alternative ways of energy utilization have emerged, and this energy revolution has its geopolitical implication, where both the UK and the U.S. will further ditch their dependence on Russian energy. If the future industrial system and consumer market are no longer dependent on oil, then Russia, which is highly dependent on oil resources economically, will be hit greatly in economic sense.

It should be pointed out that due to the complexity and extension of the transportation system, this revolutionary policy of energy substitution will also drive the rapid development of other industries, as well as related technological buildout and the manufacturing of new products. It will not take long for a new manufacturing system to emerge in the countries and societies of the Anglo-American axis.

Chan Kung emphasized that it is also worth noting that from a geopolitical perspective, this large-scale new energy policy is also a measure to share geopolitical risks and pressures. In the past, countries and governments had to address issues caused by geopolitical risks, such as rising oil prices and inflation. These in turn, could lead to political instability if the ruling government failed to address them well. However, the rapid development of industries such as new energy vehicles has made a great change in the situation. The pressure on the government was quickly directed to the private sector, industry, and society. To improve the quality of life, people are spending money to buy new energy vehicles. This is tantamount to common people spending money to solve the geopolitical risks of the Anglo-American axis countries and governments. Once this pattern and market system are formed, the Anglo-American axis countries will not only eliminate the pressure of Russia’s weaponization of energy, they can also generate profits from it, even form a new manufacturing system that can scrap their dependence on the manufacturing industry of third world countries and China. From this ideal logic, the development of new energy vehicles can serve multiple purposes for countries such as the United Kingdom and the United States.

Noticeably, unlike in China, the “electric vehicles” or “new energy vehicles” mentioned in the supporting policies of the Anglo-American axis countries do not have any specific type (such as plug-in hybrid, pure electric, fuel cell vehicle, etc.). This is actually a wise decision in the design of public policy. The technology part is a technical issue, not a public policy issue. Separating public policy from technical issues not only distinguishes the functions of policy and market, but also effectively reduces the influence of interest groups.

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China’s Contribution to Bangladesh’s Achievement of 100 Percent Electricity Coverage

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With the opening of a China-funded eco-friendly 1320mw’s mega power plant at Payra in Patuakhali district, Bangladesh became the first country in South Asia to achieve 100 percent electricity coverage. That megaproject is a centrepiece of Bangladesh and China’s Belt and Road collaboration. Bangladesh saved $100 million by completing the Payra Thermal Power Plant project ahead of schedule.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina also expressed gratitude to the Chinese president and prime minister for their assistance in the construction of the Payra power plant. She claimed that with the inauguration of the project, every residence in the country was now getting electricity and announced 100 percent electricity coverage with the inauguration of the 1,320 MW Payra Thermal Power Plant, the country’s largest of its kind.

She also remarked March – a month of Bengalese Victory, noting that her government was able to open the power plant during this month, which coincides with the “Mujib Borsho,” which commemorates the birth centenary of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and the country’s Golden Jubilee.

Chinese Ambassador to Bangladesh Li Jiming quoted on the inauguration ceremony that, “This project serves another major breakthrough in China-Bangladesh cooperation in the Belt and Road Initiative, another splendid symbol of China’s strong commitment to Bangladesh in its development.”

According to the State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources, Bangladesh has not undertaken such a large-scale, cutting-edge project in the last 50 years, and the Payra plant is Asia’s third and the world’s twelfth to use ultra-supercritical technology.

Bangladesh China Power Company Limited (BCPCL), a 50:50 joint venture between China National Machinery Import and Export Corporation (CMC) and Bangladesh’s state-owned North-West Power Generation Company Ltd (NWPGCL), developed the Payra Thermal Power Plant with $2.48 billion financing from China Exim Bank.

The power generation capacity has rocketed to 25,514 MW in February 2022 from 4,942 MW in January, 2009. Bangladesh is now ahead of India and Pakistan, among the South Asian countries that have brought 98 per cent and 74 per cent of their population under the electricity network, according to data from the World Bank.

Patuakhali district of Bangladesh is set to take the lead in the country’s economic growth following the opening of the country’s first coal-fired Ultra Supercritical Technology power plant in coastal Payra. Within the next 5-10 years, the area will become an energy hub.

The government is also planning to establish a special economic zone and an airport to realize its dream of developing the country, attracting investments to Payra, and establishing besides Kuakata as a world-class eco-tourism centre within the next two decades, according to State Minister for Power Nasrul Hamid, while this powerplant will ensure power coverage of this flagship dreams.

The plant will energize Payra port, which has the potential to become an important sea-based transit point on the Silk Route as well as a global trade hub, as the government plans to develop the region as one of the country’s major economic corridors by establishing direct road and rail connections between Dhaka and the rest of the country, as well as connectivity to Bhutan, china, India, and Sri Lanka. According to the port authorities, a full-scale functioning of the port will result in a 2% boost in the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).

Another active power project, The Barapukuria Coal Fired Power Plant Extension is a 275MW coal-fired power plant in Rangpur, Bangladesh is also developed by CCC Engineering and Harbin Electric. Bangladesh received a US$224 million loan from the Chinese private bank Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) in January 2014 to expand the capacity of the 250 MW Barapukuria coal-fired thermal power station by 275 MW.

China’s SEPCOIII Electric Power Construction Corporation has also committed to collaborate with Bangladesh’s S.Alam Group to build coal-fired power facilities in Chittagong with a capacity of 1,320 megawatts, which are targeted to begin operations this year.

Bangladesh joined the flagship BRI in 2016, and its ties with Beijing have grown significantly in recent years as Bangladesh’s largest trading partner is now China. During Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Dhaka in October 2016 different development projects worth around $20 billion were agreed.  Among which The Padma Bridge Rail Link, the Karnaphuli Tunnel, the Single Point Mooring project and the Dasherkandhi Sewage Water Treatment Plant are all slated to be finished this year. All of these china funded projects are expected to make a significant contribution to Bangladesh’s economic growth in order to meet the country’s goal of becoming a developed country by 2041.

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The US is obliged to provide Energy to the EU if sanctions are retaliated by Russia

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As a soft and initial reaction, Russia demands payments of its Gas in Rubles. After the EU imposed sanctions on Russia over the Ukraine crisis, Moscow demanded that it be paid in rubles for shipments starting April 1. But the bloc told member states that the mechanism the Kremlin proposed, which required opening euro and ruble accounts with state-controlled Gazprombank, would violate the sanctions. Four European gas buyers have already paid for supplies in rubles as President Vladimir Putin demanded, according to a person close to Russian gas giant Gazprom PJSC. Even if the other buyers reject the Kremlin’s terms, more cutoffs after the halt in the gas flow to Poland and Bulgaria Wednesday aren’t likely until the second half of May when the next payments are due, the person said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss confidential matters. Almost Ten European companies have already opened the accounts at Gazprombank needed to meet Russia’s payment demands, the person said.

Supplies to Poland and Bulgaria were cut off after they refused Gazprom’s proposed mechanism for ruble payments, which the gas giant says does not violate European Union sanctions, according to the person. Russia supplies gas via pipelines to 23 European countries.

As a matter of fact, the whole of Europe depends on Russian Oil and Gas, as a source of much-needed energy. Some of the European countries have already explored other options, but, with very little success. Without Russian Oil and Gas, their economy may suffer heavily. If they follow the American imposed sanction, they will suffer more than Russia.

European Union countries are scrambling to make sense of Russia’s decision to cut gas flows to Poland and Bulgaria, and are eager to maintain their own supplies from Russia while steering clear of violating trade sanctions imposed against Moscow. As Russia’s energy giant Gazprom announced it would be halting gas supplies to both countries after not receiving payment in Russian rubles from the two EU member states. Gazprom said the countries had violated an order by Russian President Vladimir Putin that payments for Russian gas must be made only in Russia’s currency and not United States dollars or euros.

Russia has ordered that energy companies from “unfriendly countries” make their payments in rubles at Gazprombank, a request that some in the EU, including Germany – which is hugely dependent on Russian gas – said did not break sanctions rules. “The payments will be made in euros and then transferred by Gazprombank into a so-called K account,” said Germany’s Climate and Economy Minister Robert Habeck. “That’s the path that we’re taking, that’s the path that Europe has shown, that is the path that’s compatible with sanctions,” he said. The payment process basically requires buyers to open a ruble account at Gazprombank into which their euro or dollar payments would be deposited after conversion into the Russian currency via authorization from the buyer. But others, including the European Commission, which drafts the sanctions on Russia for the EU, warned that the transfer could constitute a violation, putting gas importers in legal danger. The commission has said the process would breach EU sanctions on Russia as the currency conversion would involve a transaction through Russia’s central bank, which is subject to EU sanctions.

It is a very complex and complicated situation. Most of the EU countries are in a state of confusion and need clarification from the EU commission.

As a matter of fact, the sanctions were imposed by the US and the EU endorsed them. It is the sole responsibility of the US to provide alternatives to the EU for their energy needs. The US was never dependent on Russian Energy, nor will sanctions-hit America. Unfortunately, the victim will be the EU. Either the US provide them the energy required or compensate for the losses that occurred due to sanctions. The US economy is not in such a healthy shape to share such a heavy burden. But, the EU should have thought well before endorsing the American imposed sanctions. Only a few rich countries in the EU may survive, yet, most EU countries may collapse or face severe challenges.

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