For Europe to realize this goal, four technologies will require policy support and investment.
The European Union’s plan to become independent from Russian fossil fuels by 2027—announced in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine—is a promising step toward achieving energy security and sustainability in the bloc.
The REPowerEU Plan highlights major ambitions among European policymakers: saving energy, diversifying gas supplies, and reducing Europe’s dependence on fossil fuels from Russia as soon as possible. It will be developed in greater detail and implemented later this year.
However, political leadership and coordination are needed now to deliver on these ambitions and to make REPowerEU a truly transformative plan. Furthermore, without additional emerging and enabling technologies, it will not be possible for Europe to reach the volume of renewables proposed by REPowerEU.
In a BCG report commissioned by Breakthrough Energy, “Boosting REPowerEU,” we showcase four technologies that we believe are key to accelerating the path toward European energy security and sustainability. Currently, they receive insufficient funding and attention. (See Exhibit 1.)
While many solutions will play an important role, these four technologies are among the most promising in the short term because they are relatively mature, have high potential for ensuring energy security and carbon abatement, and are effective on a large and small scale. They are electrical grid infrastructure, long-duration energy storage, clean hydrogen, and sustainable aviation fuel. The first three are important enablers for the clean energy measures already contained in REPowerEU, while the fourth is a key emerging technology.
We estimate that these four solutions can lessen the EU’s energy dependency by helping to deliver the equivalent of more than 1,400 terawatt-hours (TWh) of energy by 2030—or about 10% of the EU’s projected total primary energy consumption. This depends on cumulative investment of about €800 billion, akin to the EU's projected spending on oil and gas imports over the same period. Additional details (including differences in technological maturity, key challenges, and suggested action plans for the EU and member states) can be found in the report. Here's how our figures break down:
We believe that these four solutions should form an integral part of the strategy to carry out the REPowerEU Plan. Building and scaling these solutions will deliver more affordable, secure, and sustainable energy. Taking these steps will also spur entrepreneurship, promote industrial leadership, and attract innovative companies from outside the EU to compete in a thriving clean-technology market. By acting boldly, policymakers can position the EU for long-term security, climate, and economic success. It is an opportunity that should not be missed.