Europe is keeping Africa hooked on gas – OZY



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Europe has a problem

The worries of winter

Shortages could worsen, especially in winter when demand increases. The Coalition to End Energy Poverty forecasts that 8.5 million people in the UK will be living in fuel poverty by the end of 2022, up from 6.32 million in April. Russia could also escalate the situation, previously threatening to stop natural gas flows through the Nord Stream gas pipeline to Europe. In response to these threats, European leaders have made frantic efforts to diversify oil and gas supplies before shortages become even more acute.

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The resource curse in Africa

looking south

According to the International Energy Agency, over 5 trillion cubic meters natural gas remain to be developed in Africa. Traditionally, these resources have not been widely used by Europe, with the EU only importing 8% of its gas from Algeria and 2% of Nigeria in 2021. But that should change. “Fossil fuel development in Africa has been stalled for a long time, but now, with the war, there is increased interest in it from Europe,” Tal Harris, international communications coordinator for Greenpeace Africa, told OZY.

The gas giants

“There is a reconfiguration of energy geopolitics,” said Saliem Fakir, executive director of the African Climate Foundation, who notes that in recent months there has been an increase in European interest in gas supplies. Algerian, Egyptian and West African. Italy has already signed agreements with Algeria and Egypt to increase its gas imports from 9 Gm3 and 3 bcm, respectively. The agreement with Algeria represents a 40% increase in its gas imports from that country. And German Chancellor Olaf Scholz visited Senegal in May, where he promised contribute to the development of natural gas resources.

Will it work?

However, these projects are unlikely to provide an immediate solution to Europe’s energy problems. “In terms of a short-term solution to Europe’s energy problems, this will not be the case,” said Anja Berretta, head of energy security and climate change in sub-Saharan Africa at Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, a group reflection. associated with the Christian Democratic Union of Germany party. Beretta alluded to the infrastructure challenges associated with exporting African gas to Europe. Existing pipelines only connect Algeria to Europe, and while additional pipelines are being built, these projects will take time to materialize. Some undeveloped African resources could take around 15 years to come online, Beretta warned.


Climate hypocrisy?

Mixed messages

Europe has always shunned fossil fuels from Africa, ostensibly out of concern for climate change, with many of its leaders commitment to COP26 in 2021 to completely stop funding new fossil fuel projects. But that attitude has undergone a seismic shift since Europe’s energy shortages began to bite. “Fossil resource investment had really slowed down due to the anticipation of increased climate action,” said Scott Foster, former director of sustainable energy at the United Nations Economic Commission for the Environment. ‘Europe. “But attitudes towards fossil fuels have shifted due to shorter-term concerns about security of supply and price security resulting from the war in Ukraine.”

Overlooked Developments

Of the nations that have committed to net zero emissions by mid-century, 12 African countries are responsible for about 40% of Africa’s current emissions. But there are many obstacles to achieving those goals, Fakir said, including low investment due to COVID-19 — a problem exacerbated by the war in Ukraine. “The energy crisis in Europe will be another factor that may delay the adoption of renewable energy in Africa,” he said.

Justified

New European interest in fossil fuel projects will embolden African leaders who have long been reluctant to switch to renewables. “Even before the invasion, there was a feeling that too much was being asked of them,” said Julian Wright, the UK’s regional climate adviser for West Africa. “The invasion gave weight to the argument they made.” Verner Ayukegba, senior vice president of the African Energy Chamber, said African members of OPEC had been concerned about the global shift to clean energy because of their dependence on hydrocarbons. Today, they are relieved. “For them, it’s definitely vindication,” Ayukegba said.


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A different way

Renewable options

A less controversial option could be for Europe to rely more on renewables. Europe has set itself objectives to ensure 40% of its energy supply will come from renewable sources by 2030. Renewable energy is already widespread in the region, with Germany and the Netherlands relying on up to a fifth of their power supply. Funding for the sector is also increasing. Germany is committed more … than 2001 billion dollars to advance its goal of being 100% dependent on renewable energies by a decade, largely motivated by the desire to reduce dependence on Russian fossil fuels.

not so fast

But shifting to full reliance on renewables will likely take time and is unlikely to be an immediate solution to the current energy crisis. The Atlantic Council argues that the EU began a major transition to green energy two decades ago, but still has a long way to gowith only 20% of power coming from wind and solar and 13% from hydro in 2020. Supply chain challenges, lack of political will and bureaucracy have delayed construction of new supplies in renewable energy.

What can be done?

A full switch to renewables or a return to fossil fuels is unlikely to solve Europe’s energy problems. Instead, the best solution is likely to be a combination of the two, with an increase in the use of renewable energy supported by the continued use of fossil fuels, particularly gas, which is increasingly being referred to as an energy of transition.sustainableThe concern of renewable energy advocates like Fakir, however, will be that the continued use of fossil fuels will reduce public interest in switching to cleaner energy. Africa could be the loser in the long run. can see where this lobbying is going,” Fakir said.


Community corner

Who is responsible for Europe’s energy shortage: Russia, European leaders, energy consumers or someone else?

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