Xi outsmarts EU: China set for huge win as bloc seeks to slash Russian energy reliance

Xi Jinping 'is watching with pleasure' says Sir Tony Brenton

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The EU has been scrambling to wean itself off Russian energy imports amid the Ukraine war and the soaring price of gas. And its new strategy, which details how it will slash oil and gas imports by two-thirds by the end of the year, includes a huge drive for renewable technologies and infrastructure. Now, to “accelerate the clean energy transition”, Europe appears to be turning to China for help.

It comes as the first European offshore wind farm to be powered by turbines built by a Chinese manufacturer was completed near Italy last Thursday.

The 30MW Beleolico nearshore wind farm marks the first pilot array in Italy and the Mediterranean Sea.

The turbines, built by MingYang Smart Energy, could mark the start of a departure from a Western-dominated market.

MingYang won the deal to supply the Taranto wind farm with 10 turbines, taking over the order from German manufacturer Senvion.

But this is not the only project the Chinese have eyed up.

Renewables giant Iberdrola has told Recharge it is in discussions with Chinese wind manufacturers to supply the infrastructure for one of its projects.

Iberdrola’s International Offshore Wind Business Director Javier Garcia, said: “They (China) are progressing, they want to enter into the European market.

He added: “We need to engage with all [turbine suppliers] because it is a global market.”

China is currently the world’s largest offshore wind market by a long way, with 19.7GW of installed capacity.

This is almost as much as the UK (12.3GW) and Germany (7.7GW) combined, both of which are considered to have huge offshore wind capacities.

Overall, 40 percent of the world’s total offshore wind capacity is now installed in China, truly making it a giant in the market.

And wind is not the only sector that China is taking by storm.

The EU’s REPowerEU energy strategy states that the bloc will boost wind and solar power installations by adding 900 gigawatts between now and 2030.

Bank Morgan Stanley forecasts that this could bring a 15 percent boost to Chinese solar exports.

And Chinese companies have a tight grip on the solar manufacturing market, accounting for almost all global production in certain parts of the supply chain.

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In 2021, Europe accounted for almost 40 percent of China’s solar exports, according to BloombergNEF.

This all comes after Russia sent the price of gas soaring by slashing deliveries travelling into Europe.

The bloc gets 40 percent of its gas from Russia, and lower supply volumes, in turn, sent energy bills soaring for millions across the continent.

Now, amid the Ukraine war, the EU is even more desperate to completely scupper ties with the Kremlin as it continues to hand Vladimir Putin billions for energy.

And searching for alternative energy suppliers is exactly what the EU is trying to do so it can completely part ways with Russian energy by 2027.

Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said: “We must become independent from Russian oil, coal and gas. We simply cannot rely on a supplier who explicitly threatens us.

“We need to act now to mitigate the impact of rising energy prices, diversify our gas supply for next winter and accelerate the clean energy transition.

“The quicker we switch to renewables and hydrogen, combined with more energy efficiency, the quicker we will be truly independent and master our energy system.”

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