Loïk Le Floch-Prigent: The Importance of European Energy Independence
According to Loïk Le Floch-Prigent, an industrialist, “Germany’s gas supply difficulties will have repercussions for all of Europe, which is industrially dependent on that country.” Interview on energy alternatives to Russian gas.
Can Europe do without Russian gas?
Europe will not be able to do without it for several years. The principle of energy independence presupposes the availability of abundant energy from diversified sources and countries. Over the past 40 years, Europe has made the strategic mistake of putting this principle aside. Germany offers us a flagrant example; the country does not have a gasification terminal allowing it to obtain supplies of liquefied natural gas by LNG tanker and is therefore 60% dependent on the gas pipeline linking it to Russia. Similarly, the coastal countries have not taken the precaution of building this type of terminal. Four years will be necessary for them to equip themselves with these infrastructures. On a European scale, we will continue to be dependent on Russia for 40% of our gas. Only France has three gas terminals and a solid storage infrastructure allowing it to import liquefied gas from several countries. Its nuclear power plants will also allow it to ensure its autonomy, but not that of all of Europe.
“Germany does not have a gasification terminal allowing it to obtain supplies of liquefied natural gas by LNG tanker”
What are the possible energy alternatives?
One solution for Germany would be to turn more to coal – although it also comes mainly from Russia. Germany has also reduced the number of its refineries for environmental reasons, which makes it dependent on foreign producers. For 30 to 40 years, its anti-nuclear policy pushed it to bet on wind power – which only operates at 25% of its nominal power and requires the action of a gas, oil or coal to be used. However, Germany's supply difficulties will have repercussions throughout Europe, which is industrially depend on that country.
How do you imagine the European energy map in five years?
If, like Belgium, Germany does not reconsider its position on nuclear power, we will still be in difficulty in five years. It should rehabilitate its three nuclear power stations or run the risk of having to reopen or commission new coal-fired power stations and vary its sources of fuel supply. This is a very un-ecological solution.