New EU energy strategy emphasises gas, stints renewables & efficiency.

Guardian: “Europe will need to tap more diverse sources of gas and develop more supplies of controversial shale gas within the continent, amid concerns over the Ukraine crisis, according to a new energy security strategy unveiled by the European commission on Wednesday.”
“But green campaigners pointed to a change from earlier proposals for the strategy in favour of more emphasis on gas at the expense of green fuels and reducing demand. They slammed the published strategy for promoting fossil fuels too heavily and failing to give a key role to energyefficiency and renewables
Increasing the sources of supply for the EU’s imports of gas was cited as the priority by the bloc’s energy chief, Guenther Oettinger. About 40% of the EU’s imported gas supply comes from Russia, with around a third from Norway and a fifth from north Africa. But in the wake of the Ukraine crisis, energy experts are worried that this over-dependence on Russia could expose European business and citizens to threats from the Kremlin and higher prices. Russia earlier this month signed a $400bn deal to supply gas to China.
Jose Manuel Barroso, president of the European commission, made it clear in launching the strategy that gas was at its heart: “The EU has done a lot in the aftermath of the gas crisis 2009 to increase its energy security. Yet, it remains vulnerable. The tensions over Ukraine again drove home this message. In the light of an overall energy import dependency of more than 50% we have to make further steps. Increasing energy security is in all our interest. On energy security, Europe must speak and act as one.”
….Europe spent about €421bn (£342bn) in 2012 on energy imports, which make up just over half of energy use. Gas is one of the biggest imports, with two thirds of it coming from overseas, and used mainly for heating and industrial purposes, with a smaller proportion going to power generation.
.Energy efficiency was intended to be a key plank of the energy security strategy in the early stages of the plans, but the European Environment Bureau, a non-governmental organisation, said that in the final version it “had moved too far down the list of priorities in the commission’s proposal” and was a missed opportunity as there could be a saving of more than 40% of energy use in the next 15 years if measures were taken quickly. Susanna Williams, policy officer at EEB, said: “Europe’s number one priority should be to exploit our abundant indigenous resources of energy savings and renewable energy. This is the only truly sustainable solution which does not rely on costly and unsustainable alternatives such as diversification of gas supply routes or the development of shale gas.”
….Connie Hedegaard, the EU climate commissioner, said: “Energy security and the fight against climate change are inseparable: without climate policies there can’t be energy security. This is why energy efficiency and renewables will continue to be two key ingredients as they are good both for the climate and energy security. Europe is already saving €30bn a year by replacing imported fossil fuels with locally produced renewable energy. In other words, we invest the money here in Europe instead of sending it to Putin’s Russia and other fossil fuel providers outside Europe.”