Energy Transition in the Baltic Sea Region: A Controversial Role of LNG?
In this article, the role of LNG is analysed within a necessary background of the climate change mitigation policy of the international community in general and the EU in particular. The Baltic Sea countries are an important part of the energy transition process, although their energy balances and production-import mixes for energy supplies vary greatly. They comprise from coal as an essential part of the energy base to a bold attempt to reduce the production-related emission of greenhouse gases (GHG). Consumption-related emissions are not targeted per se, while they are definitely affected through general measures on increasing effectiveness and technological ways and means. Natural gas is seen as ‘a missed bridge’ between oil plus coal and renewable energy sources (RES) since the political aspects and climate policies have created an unusual change of energy regimes. This change is based on the restrictions from the intergovernmental decisions made before technological and commercial backgrounds have been secured. In contrast, a more rational approach would be based on the existing cost-effectiveness. LNG may become victimised as ‘an innocent bystander’ because of the additional emission vis-à-vis pipeline gas. The EU’s decision on the dramatic reduction of reliance on all fossil fuels by 2030 and later on has become a game-changer: there will be no big gas market in the EU after the expiration of long-term contracts with Gazprom in the 2030s. The new development makes most debates on gas supplies in the Baltic Sea region (and on LNG as a part of them) obsolete and strictly political. From now on, governmental policies will be drifting to domestic policies on coal, expecting success in developing hydrogen technologies, and seeking the financing of additional investment and current costs, invoking these dramatic changes in the 2020s. The Green Deal will free Baltic Sea region countries (at some costs) from fossil fuels, including natural gas and LNG. And the latter will be deprived in a decade or two from any role, controversial or not.