Even as predictions of massive gas supply disruptions from Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine fail to materialize, Europe continues to pursue an uncoordinated and costly build-out that would increase liquified natural gas (LNG) import infrastructure by 136% and further distance the bloc from its long-term climate goals.
GEM’s annual review of data in the Europe Gas Tracker shows that as much as 227.2 billion cubic meters per year (bcm/y) of additional LNG terminal import capacity could be added to the bloc at a cost of €22.1 billion.
By comparison, prior to the war, the EU had a maximum LNG import capacity of 167 bcm/y, which was far from fully utilized, indicating an increase of 136% if the proposed build-out materializes. These developments are at odds with the European Climate Law, adopted in June 2021 to meet the EU’s climate-neutral by 2050 goal while cutting emissions by 55% by 2030.
The report also provides the first comprehensive non-industry review of the large hydrogen gas transmission pipeline network being proposed across the EU that will further entrench the bloc in fossil fuels. Much of this network would be composed of existing or proposed methane gas pipelines that are suggested for conversion in the next two decades, despite the high costs and risks of doing so.
- In total, the current proposed EU gas buildout of 227.2 bcm/y would increase the LNG import capacity into the EU by 136% of its current maximum capacity. An additional 60.5 bcm/y of gas pipeline import capacity is also proposed, plus thousands of kilometers of transmission pipelines within the EU.
- Together this infrastructure is estimated to cost €53.5 billion — €22.1 billion for LNG terminals, and €31.4 billion for pipelines. €4.2 billion is associated with projects already under construction.
- Greece, Italy, and Germany together account for about 53% of these cost estimates, demonstrating the massive scale of the intended buildout in these countries.
- Since early 2022, the EU has proposed, revived, or fast-tracked 30 LNG terminal projects.
- Between January 2022 and February 2023, 35.2 bcm/y of gas import capacity was commissioned among eight LNG terminal projects, plus another 11.1 bcm/y in transmission pipelines.
- If all 227.2 bcm/y of LNG import capacity were realized, the potential emissions associated with this infrastructure could be nearly 950 million tons CO2 per year. This infrastructure, if commissioned, would be locked in for years and possibly decades, exacerbating an existing gas dependency that is in direct conflict with the bloc’s goal to cut emissions by 55% by 2030. Taken together, and on a yearly basis alone, this buildout would have a carbon footprint over one-third the value of the EU’s 2019 GHG emissions (approximately 3.5 billion tons CO2).