ENERGY TRANSFORMATION WITHIN THE THREE SEAS INITIATIVE STATES BETWEEN 1988 AND 2018



It’s been 30 years since the political and economic transformation in Central Europe. GDP growth figures and the reduction of greenhouse gasses emission are unquestionable hallmarks of the successful conversion from a centrally planned to a market economy. However, despite all the efforts and European Union membership, this region is still not on par with the developed countries in terms of GDP per capita and carbon dioxide churned out by major branches of the industry. Energy infrastructure – and this also includes the system of interconnections between domestic networks in the region – is still lagging behind other EU areas. In 2016, 12 Central European countries1 established the Three Seas Initiative, which aims to consolidate cooperation within the scope of regional energy, transport and telecommunications infrastructure. Are these processes associated with climate change policy, and if so, how?

 

The article is split into three parts reflecting the Talanoa Dialogue underway during COP24, within the scope of which delegates, experts and interested parties discussed actions aimed at reducing global warming. The dialogue was structures around three questions: Where are we?, Where do we want to be? and How do we want to get there?

 

WHERE ARE WE? THE CURRENT SITUATION

 

Greenhouse gasses emission reduction. Over the last 30 years the Three Seas states recorded significant progress within the scope of alleviating climate changes with a 31.5% reduction to the emission of greenhouses gases between 1990 and 2016. And if we adopt the Kyoto Protocol base year for this comparison, the reduction is of an even more significant scale – a total of 39.4% for the entire region. This process was even more profound before 1990, delivering a total reduction of 12% within five of the Tree Seas Initiative states, for which the base year fell between 1985 and 1989. However, recently the level of emissions increased slightly.2 Reversing that negative trend and returning to the path of permanent greenhouse gasses emission reduction is a challenge faced by both the Three Seas Initiative states as well as the entire European Union.

 

The rate of emissions reduction in the Three Seas states is even more impressive if we compare it with GDP growth figures. During the period in question these quadrupled, resulting in an average annual growth rate of 6%. This constitutes proof that it is possible for an economy to grow without a corresponding increases in emissions (decoupling).

 

The Three Seas states were responsible for 44% of the 1.5 billion tonne greenhouse gasses emission reduction achieved by the EU as compared to the Kyoto base year. At the same time their share in overall EU emissions stood at 22%. According to 2012 data, on a world scale the Three Seas Initiative states were responsible for 2% of all emitted greenhouse gasses. During 1990 - 2012 global pollution levels increased by 47%, which translates into an average annual increase of 1.8%3.

 

 

Figure 1. Decoupling: GDP growth from 1990 and emissions reduction (Kyoto Protocol base year)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In absolute terms Romania is the Three Seas' leader. Between 1989 and 2016 it reduced greenhouse gasses emission by 190 million tonnes, leaving Poland and the Czech Republic behind, who managed to reduce emissions by 173 million tonnes (as compared to 1988) and 68 million tonnes (as compared to 1990) respectively.

 

 

Table 1. Greenhouse gasses emission reduction

(relative to Kyoto Protocol base year)

 

Country (group of countries)

Base year

1990

1995

2000

2005

2010

2015

2016

EU

0 %

-3%

-9%

-11%

-9%

-17%

-25%

-25%

The Three Seas Initiative

0 %

-12%

-28%

-36%

-33%

-36%

-40%

-39%

Romania***

0 %

-18%

-40%

-53%

-51%

-60%

-61%

-63%

Lithuania

0 %

0 %

-54%

-60%

-53%

-57%

-58%

-58%

Latvia

0 %

0 %

-51%

-60%

-56%

-52%

-56%

-56%

Estonia

0 %

0 %

-50%

-57%

-52%

-48%

-55%

-51%

Bulgaria*

0 %

-11%

-36%

-49%

-45%

-48%

-47%

-49%

Slovakia

0 %

0 %

-27%

-33%

-31%

-37%

-45%

-44%

Hungary****

0 %

-14%

-31%

-33%

-30%

-40%

-44%

-44%

The Czech Republic

0 %

0 %

-20%

-25%

-26%

-29%

-35%

-34%

Poland*

0 %

-18%

-23%

-32%

-30%

-29%

-32%

-30%

Croatia

0 %

0 %

-28%

-20%

-7%

-13%

-24%

-24%

Slovenia**

0 %

-9%

-8%

-6%

1%

-4%

-17%

-13%

Austria

0 %

0 %

2 %

3 %

19%

9%

2 %

3 %

 

Base years: *1988, **1986, ***1989, **** average for the 1985–1987 period Source: In-house materials, Eurostat.

 

 

During the 1990-–2016 period there were no significant changes in terms of sectors. The energy sector in the Three Seas states produced the most greenhouse gasses both in 1990 (33% of all emissions) as well as in 2016 (34%). The situation in transport and industry changed slightly – for the former the share in total emissions decreased by 3 percentage points, whereas considering the latter it increased by the same proportion (from 15% to 18%). When compared with the entire European Union, the share of the energy industry in the Three Seas states was higher by approx. 9 percentage points, whereas for transport it was lower by 6 per cent.

 

Energy transformation. Changes to the energy mix contributed to emissions reduction in the Three Seas Initiative states . Between 1990 and 2016 gross consumption of energy generated from solid fuels in the 12 states decreased by nearly 43%, whereas consumption of natural gas decreased by a quarter and of crude oil by 8%. On the other hand the share of energy generated from renewable sources in the energy mix doubled to 14%. An 18% increase in nuclear energy was recorded and for other sources (including energy from waste) the increase was 58%. Overall domestic gross consumption decreased by 62 Mtoe, i.e. by 17%.

 

Between 1990 and 2016 the share of electrical energy in final energy consumption in EU states increased from 17% to 22%. A similar trend, albeit still below the EU average was recorded in the Three Seas Initiative states – an increase from 14% to 19%. The progressing electrification and further increase in the share of electrical energy in final energy consumption amongst the Three Seas states have brought about favourable conditions for modernising the energy industry, facilitating a more extensive use of renewable energy, electric vehicles or even – in the longer term – energy storage system.

 

 

Changes in the energy industry in the Three Seas Initiative states are significant. Use of renewable energy was on par with that in the entire EU –the share of electrical energy more than doubled whilst the role of solid fuels decreased. However, when compared with the whole EU, the Three Seas states are still more dependent on solid fuels (44%), whilst their reliance on gas (10%) and nuclear energy (16%) are lower. This suggests that opportunities for further reductions in the emission of greenhouse gasses should be sought in changes to their production sources.

 

Distribution infrastructure within the Three Seas states. Gas supply. Despite differences within the scope of the energy mix and energy policy, underdevelopment of mutual gas interconnections is a trait common to the Three Seas Initiative states. Delays in distribution infrastructure construction and poor diversification of supply sources have exposed these states to the monopolistic practices of the Russian Gazprom4 – the dominant supplier. Inefficient infrastructure made it impossible to create a competitive and liquid fossil gas market which – as confirmed by stress tests carried out by the EU – exposed the Three Seas states to a risk of supply disruptions5.

 

In order to speed up gas market integration in the region, nine countries, including seven from the Three Seas Initiative area, established the Central and East South Europe Gas Connectivity (CESEC)6,a high level working group. Five out of the six priority CESEC projects concern the Three Seas states7. These are: Trans-Adriatic Pipeline, Interconnector Greece – Bulgaria, Interconnector Bulgaria – Romania, Bulgarian and Romanian distribution system reinforcements to facilitate use of existing interconnections and those in progress as well as an LNG terminal in Croatia together with infrastructure for evacuation of gas towards Hungary8. It is estimated that most priority projects shall enter use by the end of 2021, whereas the Bulgaria – Serbia interconnector should be operational in 2022.9

 

Electrical networks interconnections. Six of the Three Seas Initiative states (Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Romania) on the electrical energy market are part of areas indicated by the EU as exhibiting significant price differences as compared to other EU countries. Construction of interconnections with appropriately larger capacity might solve this problem10.

 

 

 


 

 

  1. Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, The Czech Republic, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Hungary.
  1. Data on CO2 emissions caused by depleted energy carriers are only available for the entire EU area. In 2017 CO2 emissions for the entire EU were estimated to be higher than in the previous year; see Eurostat news release No. 80/2018, 4 May 2018.  
  1. Source: CAIT Country GHG emissions data, World Resources Institute, April 2014, www.wri.org.             
  1. B. Bieliszczuk, The Three Seas: cooperation for the benefit of EU and regional markets (Trójmorze: współpraca na rzecz unijnego i regionalnego rynku), "Biuletyn PISM", No. 63 (1003), 30 June 2017, www.pism.pl.   
  1. Energy Security Strategy, European Commission, https://ec.europa.eu.
  1. The Three Seas states involved with this initiative are: Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Romania,

          Slovakia, Slovenia and Hungary; see Joint Press Statement by Ministers and Representatives of Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Romania, Slovenia and            Slovakia and the European Commission, European Commission, 9 February 2015, http://europa.eu.

  1. Appendix to the Action Plan: List of all CESEC projects, European Commission, https://ec.europa.eu.
  1. The CESEC Group also identified other undertakings, for example concerning interconnections between the Three Seas states and also between countries of the Energy Community.
  1. M. Gaspar, CESEC regional cooperation, European Commission, 23 October 2018, https://ec.europa.eu.               

      10.      Towards a sustainable and integrated Europe. Report of the Commission Expert Group on electricity interconnection targets, European Commission, November 2017,             pp. 29–31, https://ec.europa.eu.           

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BARTOSZ BIELISZCZUK, MAREK WĄSIŃSKI

 

 

Tekst ukazał się w Polskim Przeglądzie Dyplomatycznym 2(77)2019