As the US rushes to approve liquefied natural gas (LNG) plants for exports to Europe and Ukraine, is there another way to get them the energy they need?
Ukrainian officials think so – hey, remember renewable energy?
One way the US could really help Ukraine is to invest in renewable energy infrastructure there, they say. Then they wouldn’t have to rely on natural gas from Russia (or anywhere else). And solar and wind farms can be up and running quickly, compared to years and billions of dollars to build LNG plants.
"I strongly believe the time has come for US investors to discover Ukraine, especially its energy,"
says Olexander Motsyk, Ukraine ambassador to the US.
In fact, Ukraine officials are on a "road show" to attract investment in renewable energy for Ukraine, led by the country’s first Secretary for Energy, Volodymyr Shalkivski. Following this week’s event in Washington DC, consulates in Chicago, New York and San Francisco will be next.
Given Europe’s leadership on renewable energy, it is frankly shocking that they are taking a back seat on this. Sadly, they want the US to export natural gas to them.
Connie Hedegaard, European Commissioner for Climate Action, gets it, but that doesn’t seem to have gone very far. She says the situation should be a wake-up call to get off gas for good and switch to renewables.
Unfortunately, the instability in Ukraine makes it very challenging to raise capital, but the US and EU could join in making investments not only in solar and wind, but in bolstering the transmission infrastructure.
Experts say all the gas Ukraine imports from Russia could be replaced with renewable energy in 3-5 years, reports Bloomberg. Ukraine already has one of the most generous feed-in tariffs for solar PV.
"I want America to lead in developing an energy policy that will weaken the oil-and-gas-autocracy of Russian President Vladimir Putin, and as a byproduct, produce the technologies that will mitigate climate change, make America a global technology and moral leader and ensure that the next generation can thrive here on Earth," says Tom Friedman.
Since the conflict escalated in Ukraine, the US has approved the Jordan Cove LNG plant in Oregon and six others (pending environmental reviews), even though Ukraine doesn’t even have the infrastructure to import LNG from tanker ships. The US is encouraging Europe to create its own fracking industry.
Incredibly, there are 1.1 million active fracking wells across 36 states in the US, and that’s without exporting gas, according to FracTracker, an industry research group that’s supposedly monitoring the practice.
In the UK, Prime Minister David Cameron has been pushing hard to open half the country to fracking, while citizens engage in widespread protests against it. It is banned in France and Bulgaria.
Read our article, Is Ukraine Another Red Line on Climate Change?