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Russia-Ukraine war could speed up ‘renewable revolution’, expert says

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Global renewable energy adoption such as green hydrogen could speed up as a result of Russia’s war on Ukraine, according to a Sydney University energy and decarbonisation expert. 

School of chemical and bimolecular engineering professor Jun Huang says the crisis may quickly wean the European Union off fossil resources, fast-tracking the development of homegrown industries and renewable energy imports.

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), Russia is the world’s third largest oil producer and the second largest crude oil exporter behind Saudi Arabia.

World oil prices reached an eight year high of US$105 per barrel in the last couple of days and are still climbing, adding to inflationary pressures. 

“The situation unfolding in Ukraine is shaping up to be a humanitarian disaster. It has also laid bare Europe’s energy vulnerabilities,” Huang  says. 

Jun Huang

The issue could be a strong motivation for the region to develop local renewable energy capacity, as well as move to reliable suppliers, like Australia’s green hydrogen, he says.

“Fossil fuels may seem enough, but given many suppliers operate in regions which are at high risk of military adventurism and regional conflict, such as the Middle East, North Africa, and Russia, this can put global energy security at serious risk, with frequent fossil fuel supply issues. 

“As one of the EU’s strategic partners, Australia is gearing up to provide clean and green energy on a large scale. This not only addresses the challenge of energy security for the EU, but will drastically reduce emissions – something the entire world will benefit from. 

“It will also naturally promote the development of Australia’s energy industry: given our relative peace, AAA credit rating and long history of stability, it is without doubt we are a trustworthy trading partner.

“The Russian oil and gas supply issues may very well result in the renewable revolution in the EU’s chemical industry, too.

“What many people don’t realise is that oil is used to make the everyday products we take for granted. Currently, a huge amount of Russian oil is used by the world’s leading EU chemical companies, like BASF, to produce plastics, wind turbine blades, polymers, organic solar-cells – as well as shampoo, medicine, candle wax, and smart phones.

“The current crisis may quickly wean the EU off its fossil fuel dependency. Instead, it could be what accelerates the development of a sustainable bio-economy using biomass as a raw material for the chemistry of the future, making it far less dependent on fossil resources,” Huang  says.Read more...

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