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The EU considers freer green standards if it seeks to replace Russian fossil fuels

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The EU is preparing to weaken its environmental standards as it seeks to replace Russian fossil fuels with renewable energy sources and imported hydrogen energy.

Block companies will be allowed to build wind and solar projects without the need for an environmental impact assessment, according to draft proposals received by the Financial Times, which provide for accelerated approval of renewable projects in designated areas. .

The 27 EU member states overseeing energy policy would have to allocate enough of these areas to meet the bloc’s renewable energy targets. A “strategic” impact assessment will be required before selecting an area.

“Long and complex administrative procedures are a key barrier to investing in renewable energy and related infrastructure,” the project said. Plans could “lead to the accidental death or concern of birds and other protected species,” he added.

Russia’s war in Ukraine has prompted the EU to speed up the adoption of alternatives to fossil fuels, which it pursues under the climate agreement of the “Green Treaty” to achieve zero carbon emissions by 2050. Last year, the bloc also unveiled a set of measures designed to meet the medium-term goal of reducing emissions by 55 percent by 2030.

Frans Zimmermans, vice-president of the European Commission on the Green Deal, said on Tuesday that imported hydrogen was the only possible replacement for gas used by Europe’s heavy industry, most of which comes from Russia.

“It’s important not just to cut our carbon footprint, it’s important to keep our economy competitive. We need a new source of energy for sectors that are hard to shrink. And hydrogen is a source of energy, ”he said.

He also told reporters that Brussels would “go beyond” its ambitions of 40 gigawatts of green hydrogen capacity by 2030.

The EU has agreed to generate 40 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030, but a document to be released next week could set a higher target. He called for a 30 percent increase in the pace of deployment of green energy projects.

“Due to the unprecedented geopolitical situation created by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and high energy prices, there is a clear need for coordinated and urgent action to accelerate the deployment of renewable energy sources,” the document said.

Brussels has been discussing a ban on oil imports from Russia for six months and has promised to stop using Russian gas by the end of the year. More than 40 percent of the unit’s consumption is Russian gas.

Charles Moore, head of the European climate think tank program Ember, said the EU needs to make significant progress in building renewable energy infrastructure if it is serious about replacing fossil fuels.

The commission has also proposed strict criteria for green hydrogen and how it is created by electrolysis, according to a separate project seen by the FT.

Hydrogen will qualify as a renewable source only if, during its production, it does not increase the use of electricity derived from fossil fuels, and if it returns to the grid as much electricity as it used.

Zimmermans spoke during a trip to Rotterdam, where he supported plans by the Dutch port and its partners to produce and import 4.6 megatons of hydrogen a year until 2030.

Plans depended on green hydrogen receiving the same subsidies and incentives as renewable energy, according to port authorities. Zimmermans said he would support them, adding: “It is clear that we need to make sure that hydrogen is as competitive as possible.”

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