Energy security remains a key component in realizing the vision of a Europe whole, free and at peace, said Vice President Joe Biden in his recent address to the Atlantic Council Energy and Economic summit.
While there are serious energy challenges for many countries, it is also a unique moment for Europe to change their circumstances. As a matter of economic and national security, said Vice President Biden, "we need governments and the European Commission to work hand-in-hand with the private sector to ensure diversity in sources of fuel from hydrocarbons to renewables.”
This includes the pursuit of more reliable supply routes, development of new pipelines and liquefied natural gas facilities, and the promotion of regulatory and technology cooperation to address 21st century energy challenges. We must overcome remaining hurdles to complete projects like the Southern Gas Corridor, which will bring gas from the Caspian and potentially the eastern Mediterranean to European markets in less than five years.
There has been some progress on the part of Europe in its crisis contingency planning following energy crises in '06, '09, and in 2014. Additional pipelines have been constructed, reverse flows of energy have been made possible and greater energy interconnectedness has been pursued by the Baltic and Scandinavian countries for example.
But more needs to be done, including integrating renewable energy into the fuel mix. It is also critical to develop new opportunities to bring new sources of supply to Europe. The Southern Corridor pipeline is a case in point.With U.S. support, Turkish and Azeri leadership, this project traversing Azerbaijan, through Georgia, Turkey, Greece, Albania, and Italy will bring gas for the first time from the Caspian Sea to Europe.
Today, the energy potential of the Eastern Mediterranean can also pay significant strategic and economic dividends for the region itself and Europe as a whole.
Energy security remains the goal. "We have to keep our eye on the horizon, keep moving past old ways of doing business, keep making energy a tool of cooperation, not a tool of division," said Vice President Biden. "If we can do that, we can achieve a Europe not just whole, free and at peace, but prosperous and secure."