Europe’s ‘green energy corridor’ plan: What you need to know about the global energy crisis this week

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Roberto Bocca, Head of Shaping the Future of Energy and Materials; Member of the Executive Committee, World Economic Forum, Stefan Ellerbeck, Senior Writer, Formative Content

  • This weekly round-up brings you the latest on developments in the global energy sector.
  • Top energy stories: Ukrainians face power shortages; plans for a ‘green gas corridor’ between France and Spain; and Joe Biden looks to boost electric vehicle production.
  • For more on the World Economic Forum’s work in the energy space, visit the Energy, Materials and Infrastructure Platform.

1. News in brief: Energy stories from around the world

Ukrainians are facing their first large-scale nationwide disruptions to electricity. Authorities are looking to restrict supply to allow energy companies to repair power facilities that have been targeted by Russian air strikes.

European Union leaders ended another debate on the EU’s response to the energy crisis without agreement on whether to cap gas prices. However, they have decided to keep looking at options to put a ceiling on costs. The 27 member states have already agreed to continue to increase gas storage and claw back revenues from energy firms.

Economic growth in the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) will remain strong, according to a Reuters poll. However, it is expected to slow significantly next year as high oil prices reduce demand.

The Labour government of Australia’s Victoria state says it would raise its renewable energy targets and proposed government ownership of future power generation if it wins local elections due to be held next month. The government said it would take steps to source 65% of its electricity from wind and solar energy by 2030.

Norwegian state-owned energy giant Equinor says it paid $8.9 billion in corporate tax in 2021, Offshore Energy is reporting. Equinor also said it paid $2.9 billion in royalty payments and fees to local as well as national governments; $8.3 billion of the total was paid in Norway, where Equinor has the largest share of its operations.

The European Union is looking to develop an energy efficiency label for cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin in order to rein in the growing electricity consumption of the industry. The European Commission will work with international partners to establish a grading measure that will encourage greener cryptosystems, according to a draft report seen by Bloomberg News.

2. New ‘green pipeline’ between Barcelona and Marseille

Spain, Portugal and France have agreed to substitute plans for a gas pipeline with a new ‘green corridor’. The new sea-based connection between Barcelona and Marseille, known as BarMar, would carry renewable gases and green hydrogen. However, it will temporarily allow the flow of a ‘limited amount’ of natural gas to help alleviate Europe’s energy crisis, Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa said.

The BarMar corridor resolves a stand-off between Spain and Portugal, which wanted to extend the MidCat pipeline so that they could sell gas to central Europe, and France. Spain and France have also agreed to speed up an electricity interconnection through the Bay of Biscay and identify and work on other connections between the two national grids.

The pipeline “is a response to calls for solidarity from our European partners in the face of Putin’s blackmail,” Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said in Brussels, where the three leaders met on Thursday. French President Emmanuel Macron said it was “imperative that Europe remains united”.

Spain accounted for 20% of global investment announcements in green hydrogen in the first quarter of 2022, second only to the US, according to analysts. Among three Spanish companies developing green hydrogen is oil and gas group Cepsa. It says it will spend €7-8 billion ($7.8-8.9 billion) on shifting its business to low-carbon energy sources by 2030.

3. The US looks to boost domestic electric vehicle production

The Biden administration says it is awarding $2.8 billion in grants to boost US production of electric vehicle batteries and the minerals used to build them. The grants mark the latest push by Joe Biden to help reduce the country’s dependence on China and other nations for the raw materials to fuel the net-zero transition.

“China currently controls much of the critical mineral supply chain and the lack of mining, processing, and recycling capacity in the US could hinder electric vehicle development and adoption, leaving the US dependent on unreliable foreign supply chains,” the White House said.

By 2030, President Biden wants 50% of all new vehicles sold in the United States to be electric or plug-in hybrid electric models, along with 500,000 new EV charging stations. However, he has not endorsed the phasing-out of new gasoline-powered vehicle sales by 2030.

The White House has also said that the US and allies do not produce enough of the critical minerals and materials used in EV batteries. A separate $1 trillion infrastructure law signed in November 2021 allocates $7 billion to ensure US manufacturers can access critical minerals and other components to manufacture the batteries.


What’s the World Economic Forum doing about the transition to clean energy?

Moving to clean energy is key to combating climate change, yet in the past five years, the energy transition has stagnated.

Energy consumption and production contribute to two-thirds of global emissions, and 81% of the global energy system is still based on fossil fuels, the same percentage as 30 years ago. Plus, improvements in the energy intensity of the global economy (the amount of energy used per unit of economic activity) are slowing. In 2018 energy intensity improved by 1.2%, the slowest rate since 2010.

Effective policies, private-sector action and public-private cooperation are needed to create a more inclusive, sustainable, affordable and secure global energy system.

Benchmarking progress is essential to a successful transition. The World Economic Forum’s Energy Transition Index, which ranks 115 economies on how well they balance energy security and access with environmental sustainability and affordability, shows that the biggest challenge facing energy transition is the lack of readiness among the world’s largest emitters, including US, China, India and Russia. The 10 countries that score the highest in terms of readiness account for only 2.6% of global annual emissions.

To future-proof the global energy system, the Forum’s Shaping the Future of Energy and Materials Platform is working on initiatives including, Systemic Efficiency, Innovation and Clean Energy and the Global Battery Alliance to encourage and enable innovative energy investments, technologies and solutions.

Additionally, the Mission Possible Platform (MPP) is working to assemble public and private partners to further the industry transition to set heavy industry and mobility sectors on the pathway towards net-zero emissions. MPP is an initiative created by the World Economic Forum and the Energy Transitions Commission.

Is your organisation interested in working with the World Economic Forum? Find out more here.

4. More on energy on Agenda

Among the provisions in Biden’s renewable energy legislation is a 30% solar tax credit that could spur more Americans to “go solar” over the next decade. Rebecca Leppert and Brian Kennedy from the Pew Research Center look in more depth at what is fuelling the booming home solar panel installation sector in the US.

The energy crisis has led to some calling for an increase in fossil fuel exploration. However new data from the energy think tank Ember shows that this may be unnecessary as an increase in global electricity demand during the first half of 2022 was entirely met by renewable energy generation.

Staying warm and running our homes without breaking the bank is becoming a growing challenge for millions of people. Energy costs are surging for many households as the cost of living continues to rise. Here are 5 ways consumers can keep a lid on their domestic energy use.

To learn more about the work of the Energy, Materials, Infrastructure Platform, contact Anne Therese Andersen:

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