In 2022, there are wins to be celebrated for climate policy. The recent US legislation is the first time in 40 years that the government has managed to pass any meaningful climate policy. The invasion of Ukraine has shaken Europe to accelerate the move away from Russian oil and gas. However, it is hard to celebrate wins for the climate without addressing the elephant in the room – the thriving and ever-profiting oil and gas sector. While recent geopolitical events did indeed infuse the energy transition with, (no pun intended), some much needed energy, Joelle Thomas would argue that the biggest winners of the past year’s events have been oil and gas companies. What does this mean for the energy transition?
Since Russia’s devastating invasion of Ukraine on February 24th, EU policy makers and energy companies have been asking themselves an inconvenient but long overdue question: how to finally achieve energy independence from Russian gas? One of their solutions: biogas. The EU recently announced plans to ramp up biogas production to a volume of 20% of current Russian gas imports by 2030. In the new plan, biogas is expected to replace parts of the Russian fossil gas used for heating, industrial processes, and electricity generation.
The race to become the world leader in hydrogen production has begun—and the Middle East is at the front of the pack. Hydrogen—and in particular—green hydrogen, is often portrayed as the “silver bullet” in decarbonization technology—able to decarbonize even the hardest-to-abate sectors. With some of the best renewable energy sources in the world (both solar and wind), many Middle Eastern countries seek to maintain their position as global energy giants by producing and exporting new energy vectors — namely, hydrogen and its derivatives. Yet Joelle Thomas found herself wondering whether these lofty hydrogen goals will be sustainable in a region with one significant resource constraint: water.
Although the epicenter of the world’s petro- economy, countries in the Middle East understand the need to diversify away from fossil fuels. The need to transition is most strongly driven by broader regional priorities to reduce reliance on fossil fuels and grow the economy while also providing jobs for the increasing population of young people. At first glance, nuclear seems an apt tool to help the region meet these dual objectives. However, Middle Eastern countries would be better served by investing resources pegged to nuclear in the more promising solar and wind industries.