We need to achieve energy independence from adversaries who are leveraging their oil & gas resources as geopolitical weapons against European interests.
Europe’s energy security (being able to use energy such as electricity and heat whenever it’s needed) is the most fragile it has been in decades. Europe has faced an unprecedented energy crisis in 2022 due to Russia’s war in Ukraine, and even today energy prices remain very high. It was naïve to think that Russia would never use its energy leverage for geopolitical reasons. And it is naïve to think that Russia is the only one using its leverage over Europe to fulfill their interests. Even though we managed to diversify our suppliers and phase out Russian oil and gas, we need to do more if we want to have a truly green, secure, and independent energy future.
Cutting our own Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions
Europe needs to decarbonize. This is our bottom line. Forward Europe wants to make sure that we will achieve Net-Zero by 2050. While electrification remains essential, we understand the importance of striking a balance. For example, instead of imposing strict deadlines for the adoption of electric vehicles, we prioritize the development and adoption of synthetic fuels and hydrogen for sectors where electrification is currently impractical (aviation, maritime transport, road freight, …). By doing so, we can maintain a resilient and adaptable energy landscape while reducing carbon emissions and phasing out high-emission energy sources.
We want to improve and stimulate public transport by lowering its costs for citizens and while increasing its quality. Public transport must be comfortable, safe, reliant, and a green way to travel. If public transport is seen as the better option compared to the individual car, more people will use it, and our emissions will go down a lot more quickly.
We also want the production of electricity to become a lot more sustainable. More subsidies for energy companies who use green or nuclear ways to produce electricity, while helping polluting companies transition to more sustainable ways of production, if they’re willing to adapt. Everyday citizens can have a big impact on our emissions as well. That’s why we believe subsidies for citizens to isolate their homes, install solar panels, or implement other sustainable habits are crucial for Net-Zero. Everybody wanting to improve their homes will get (partial) funding as well.
Local communities can leverage local energy production potential to manage part of their own power needs. We want to work closely together with local communities since they understand their needs and their situation best. Setting up local solar farms, wind farms, and more, that can be entirely managed by the community is a good example of empowerment of the community. It’s up to a community to decide whether everybody should get solar panels on their roof, or whether a wind farm next door is the best idea. This infrastructure will create a lot of jobs and can even be profitable when there’s enough renewable energy to sell to neighboring communities. For communities which aren’t in a sunny or windy location, nor along a river, Small Modular Reactors (SMRs, a form of small nuclear reactor) are a great solution for local energy generation. A whole region shouldn’t be dependent on one single energy source. Plus, if more communities manage to generate electricity locally, incidents such as blackouts during a storm will become less harmful, less intense (because fewer people will be affected), and easier to fix.
The supply for the SMRs can be ensured thanks to our partners such as Australia, Cananda, and the US, for example, which have some of the world’s largest uranium deposits in the world. More nuclear waste can also be recycled with new technologies. We already have the technology to recycle 96% of the nuclear waste. This way, we will need to mine less uranium since we will be able to recycle more of it, and the remaining 4% that needs to be stored will take up much less space. Recycling uranium drastically reduces its radioactivity from thousands of years to “only” 200-300 years.
Moreover, one aspect we can’t forget during our ecological transition is the emissions from heavy industry. We need to produce stuff. A lot of stuff. Forward Europe wants to bring even more industries back to Europe. But it must be done in a responsible way. That’s why we want to incentivize and help companies to greener ways of production. This can either be through easier access to loans, less bureaucracy, scalability, … Making sure European industries will be able to cope with the demand while manufacturing products sustainably is one of our main goals.
Enhancing Energy Infrastructure
Efficiency lies at the heart of our energy infrastructure plans. We not only aim to manage our existing electricity grid more effectively but also to enhance its capacity and reliability by continuing the development of a European smart grid. This pivotal step ensures that we can meet the burgeoning demand for electricity without overwhelming the system, thus safeguarding energy stability and resilience. A robust and adaptable infrastructure is the bedrock upon which energy security is built.
Invest More in Hydrogen
Innovation is a cornerstone of our energy policy. Europe is actively pursuing advancements in energy storage methods to better manage intermittent renewable sources. Additionally, we are embracing the construction of SMRs, which not only enhance our energy independence but also play a crucial role in the production of hydrogen—a key component of a sustainable energy future. SMRs have all the advantages of normal nuclear reactors but they’re way easier and cheaper to build, cheaper to maintain, quicker to build (2-3 years compared to 15-20 years for a normal nuclear reactor), and a lot safer.
We believe nuclear energy will play an important part in Europe’s energy mix in the future, even more than today. And that’s why SMRs are essential for the future of nuclear energy. Since you can produce hydrogen at the same time as electricity, SMRs have the potential to greatly reduce the cost of hydrogen production. SMRs will also help with our energy security as you can use it regardless of the weather.
Securing Resource Supplies
Our energy transition hinges on securing a consistent supply of critical raw materials and rare minerals. Europe is taking proactive measures to reduce dependencies on other nations for these vital resources. This endeavor is essential to ensure our uninterrupted progress towards a more sustainable and self-reliant society. By shoring up our access to these resources, we fortify our position on the path to energy independence.
Promoting Renewable Energy Sources
Continuing to invest in renewable energy sources, such as solar, wind, and hydraulic energy, remains vital for providing Europe with a reliable, low-carbon energy supply. Encouraging the implementation of renewable energy systems through subsidies and tax incentives is crucial, as is the development of smart grids and energy storage technologies to manage fluctuating supply and demand efficiently.
Raising Public Awareness and Energy Efficiency
Elevating public awareness not only about energy efficiency but also about our vulnerability and dependence on external sources. Initiating a campaign highlighting the advantages of sourcing energy locally. Furthermore, we must reduce overall energy demand through public campaigns, legislation, and incentives that promote energy-saving practices.
Energy efficiency should be complemented by legislative measures and incentives to promote the adoption of energy-efficient technologies, such as LED lighting, solar water heaters, and efficient appliances. Investing in research and development of energy-efficient materials and technologies is also critical to enhance energy efficiency in homes and offices.
Diplomatic and Economic Leverage
To protect Europe’s energy security and reduce dependence on externally sourced energy, diplomacy and economic tools must be actively employed. We will wield our influence to discourage energy suppliers from using energy resources as political weapons against European interests. This approach can encompass economic sanctions and diplomatic efforts aimed at redirecting suppliers towards secure, reliable energy sources.
Striking a Balance Between Economic Development and Reducing GHG Emissions
While reducing GHG emissions domestically and globally remains one of our top priorities, we at Forward Europe are realistic about the situation as well. We know that the problems won’t be solved overnight, and that we need to ensure our economic development won’t be jeopardized due to our energy policies. Even with the best policies, achieving Net-Zero will be done gradually. We will make sure that our quality of life won’t decrease due to our policies. That’s why we aim to work as much as possible with local communities since they know their local situation best.
We want to make sure our standard of living keeps increasing over the years. We aim to leverage the best technologies currently available in order to have a greener, more secure, and independent energy future. From renewables to SMRs to the recycling of nuclear waste. We, Europeans, have the technology and the possibility to take back control over our energy destiny and to overcome the greatest energy challenge of the 21st century, achieving Net-Zero by 2050.
A Bold Vision for Energy Security
In conclusion, Europe is charting a bold path towards energy independence, security, and sustainability. By adopting a multifaceted approach that includes financial support, technological innovation, and international collaboration, we are taking decisive steps to safeguard our energy supplies and reduce our dependence on external sources. The future of green and secure energy in Europe hinges on our collective determination to lead the way towards a more secure and sustainable energy landscape, free from fossil fuels, coercion, and external manipulation.