Ayoob Kara

What is the solution to Europe’s energy crisis?

Although winter is now over and Easter is approaching in Europe, the energy crisis that has lurked in the background in the European continent still plagues the continent. This is because the war in Ukraine shows no sign of abating and this means that Russian gas and oil will remain under sanction for the foreseeable future, thus shutting down what was once one of Europe’s main energy suppliers.

At the same time, while Russian gas and oil are under international sanctions, Europe is still a long way off from recovering from the damage inflicted on the continent by the COVID pandemic, when a rapid decline in demand during lockdown was followed by a rapid growth in demand once the lockdowns were lifted, as Europeans just like everyone else were yearning to travel, see the world and go out once they were free to do so.

This led to chaos in the markets once the supply was not able to accommodate the demand, leading to the skyrocketing of prices, which Europe has not been able to adjust to this day. By December 2021, gas prices were three times higher than they were the year previously. And now, the situation is even more dire due to the shortages in supply caused by the war in Ukraine, even though there were no blackouts and Europe was able to avert the worst of the energy crisis last winter.

Going forward, if Europe does not want to continue to be in this situation, they will need to look for alternative energy sources that will fill the place that Russian oil and gas once held on the European markets. One of the countries best suited to replace Russian gas and oil on the European market is Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan is an energy-rich country that already supplies Israel with 40% of its oil needs. However, Azerbaijan has the potential to do far more than that, as estimates show that Azerbaijan can produce up to 200 gigawatts of green energy, which can provide for the energy needs of 25 countries the size of Azerbaijan.

Recently, Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev noted that pretty soon, green energy will be as important as other types of energy: “So, we really will transform into an important green energy supplier to Europe. And taking into account our successful experience in building oil and gas pipelines, already existing history of cooperation with countries and companies in Europe on energy security, full support by European Commission to our plants, energy dialogue between European Commission and our Ministry of Energy, which started more than a year ago. So, all these factors really demonstrate that green energy from Azerbaijan will soon be no less important as natural gas is today.”

Azerbaijan’s rich energy resources combined with Europe’s desire to diversify its supply moving away from Putin’s Russia and more towards more friendly pro-Western countries has led to the development of the Southern Gas Corridor, which led to Azerbaijan already beginning to improve the energy supply in European markets.    Today, many European politicians are grateful to Azerbaijan for assisting Europe as it faced the gravest energy crisis in decades.  This led to Azerbaijan, Georgia, Romania and Hungary signing “an agreement on strategic partnership in the field of green energy development and transmission.”  In the framework of this project, Azerbaijan will lay a 1,195 power transmission line with a capacity of 1,000 MW between Georgia and Romania, thus installing a digital connecting cable.  This project already shows how much confidence European countries have placed in Azerbaijan.

And it is for good reason that Europe looks to Azerbaijan to solve its energy crisis.   The government of President Ilham Aliyev is very supportive of Europe, America and Israel.    They were part of the international coalition that fought against the Taliban in Afghanistan following the September 11 terror attacks.   They are strong enemies of the Islamic Republic of Iran, who not too long ago attacked their embassy in Tehran, killing a security official.   Domestically, they are opposed to radical Islam, preferring to have multi-cultural, tolerant and pluralistic politics ruling their country.   And all of this makes them strong allies as Europe fights against Putin’s Russia, who continues to commit grave crimes against humanity to date.

About the Author
Ayoob Kara served as Minister of Communication, Cyber and Satellite under Netanyahu, in addition to serving as the Deputy Minister of Regional Cooperation, Deputy Minister of the Development of the Negev and Galilee and Deputy Speaker of the Knesset. He presently is the President of the Economic Peace Center.
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