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Energy crisis will speed up transition to green fuels, says head of renewables agency

Windmills are seen in front of the Gries dam at SwissWinds farm, Europe's highest wind farm.
Windmills are seen in front of the Gries dam at SwissWinds farm, Europe's highest wind farm.   -   Copyright  REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/File Photo   -  
By Euronews  with Reuters

The energy crisis caused by the Ukraine war will likely accelerate the transition to greener fuels in the medium term, according to the head of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). 

Higher use of renewables can help improve the environment and ensure energy independence, director-general Francesco La Camera added. 

Fossil fuel use could rise in the short term to secure a stable supply, but risks to the stability of energy supplies highlighted by Russia's invasion of Ukraine would support the global shift away from polluting fuels. 

Turning to fossil fuels as a 'last resort'

"In the very short term, concerns of the governments are to provide energy for their citizens," La Camera told Reuters in an interview on Monday. 

He says some countries are making use of everything they have, including ageing coal-fired power plants.

Germany is delaying planned shutdowns of some coal plants while Britain is turning to old coal power units as a "last resort" in case other sources cannot provide enough electricity through the coming winter.

Kai Pfaffenbach/REUTERS
A view of electricity pylons and power lines leading from the Uniper coal power plant in Hanau, Germany.Kai Pfaffenbach/REUTERS

"But in the mid- and long term, the Ukraine crisis will bring an acceleration to the energy transition because governments finally realise that going for renewables is not only good for the environment, jobs, GDP, but also good for ensuring higher energy independency," he said.

"Renewables are the most competitive way to produce electricity today," he added.

The crisis has led to a renewed interest in nuclear power

The global energy crisis has also led to a renewed interest in nuclear power. Governments across Europe and Asia are extending lifespans for their aging nuclear plants, restarting reactors and dusting off plans to resume projects shelved after the 2011 nuclear crisis in Fukushima, Japan.

"In a general term, nuclear power is not the best option because of cost, security concern and because the contribution they could give will come too late," La Camera said, referring to the length of time it takes to build a new nuclear power plant.