Tuesday, April 16, 2024
 
 

Romania sees Black Sea renewable hub, gas production growth

Interview with Romanian MP Cristina Pruna, VP of the Committee for Industries
NE GLOBAL
Cristina Pruna, Vice President of the Committee for Industries and Services at the Romanian Parliament, talks to NE Global in Bucharest, Romania..

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Ambitious projects and cross-border cooperation between the countries in the region are key in order for the Black Sea to become a renewables energy hub, Cristina Pruna, Vice President of the Committee for Industries and Services at the Romanian Parliament said, calling for investments, stable legislation to encourage projects, transparency, competitive markets, and interconnected networks and storage.

“Romania is one of the biggest markets in the region. We have a lot of projects not only in the area of renewables but also natural gas resources that we have in the Black Sea, and we want start extracting them in 2027 but also nuclear projects that we want to develop in the future,” Pruna told NE Global in an interview in Bucharest on February 6 on the sidelines of Energy Week Black Sea 2024.

“This balanced energy mix makes Romania an important player in the region but also an energy security provider. That’s why we are looking forward to collaborating with the countries that are around the Black Sea. I think there is a lot of potential for offshore wind energy and collaboration with Bulgaria since they are also working on offshore wind legislation. So, opportunities are there we just have to have the right regulatory framework in place, stable legislation that will allow investors to come here in Romania and start to develop projects,” the Romanian opposition MP said.

Pruna reminded that Azerbaijan, Georgia, Romania and Hungary have signed a memorandum in Bucharest in the presence of European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to build the so-called “Green Corridor” – an underwater electric cable under the Black Sea to provide renewable energy from the Caspian Sea to Europe. “We need to think big, and this cable that will come from Azerbaijan and Georgia to Romania and Hungary will bring renewable energy from the Caspian Sea. So, there are opportunities to even broaden this collaboration in a time when the international relations are quite fragmented, but we need to get over it and put energy security first and to have different sources of energy and routes so that we can ensure energy security in the region,” Pruna said.

Prosumers in Romania

Turning to legislation, the Romanian MP said her country needs to move faster. “For instance, the offshore wind legislation, there were some proposals. I worked on a proposal in 2022, now it’s 2024 so I think we could have done it faster but it’s good that now we have a proposal coming from the ministry to work on,” she said.

View of the Palace of the Parliament, also known as the House of the Republic (Casa Republicii), in Bucharest, Romania, February 9, 2024. Photo: NE GLOBAL

Pruna said prosumers (individuals who both consume and produce) are important to Romania’s energy transition. “Where we really had very positive results was in the area of prosumers. Because we had stable legislation, because we had programs to finance prosumers, because we have reduced VAT for solar panels and people understood that if they produce their own energy then they can lower their bills, also they can give energy in the system. So, moving to this more decentralized market is something that Romanians understand, and they are doing it, investing their resources,” she said.

Pruna, who wants to participate in the EU Parliamentary Elections in June, said Romania needs to move faster to secure European funding. “We have billions of euros available for the EU Modernization Fund and I think we should speed up the base in which we make these funds available in the market. On paper we have a lot of projects, some of them are becoming reality, some of them should move even faster,” she said.

Reducing dependence on Chinese solar panels

Pruna also noted that the EU is dependent on China for solar panels. “But if we look at the other industries such as the wind industry and all the value chains are behind it, we still have it here in Europe. Even in Romania we have some production capacities and around Europe. So, I think this is a good model and we should try as much as possible to create value chains here in Europe not to replace one dependency with another. Especially that we are moving in the car industry also towards electric vehicles and there is an entire other industry that needs to adopt new technologies so it will be very challenging. What needs to be done in Europe I think is less bureaucracy. The regulation should be clear but not too heavy,” Pruna said.

Turning to hydrogen, Pruna said the sector is still in the early stages in Romania. Nevertheless, the Romanian parliament has recently adopted a new law on the integration of hydrogen from renewable and low-carbon sources in the industry and transport sectors. “We had some debates in the parliament and also some legislation was adopted that basically set some targets that were also discussed at the European level. We’re looking at hydrogen, but I think it’s still very far. There’s no clear business case,” the Romanian MP said. “There are some funds available and there are also some calls for hydrogen, and I know some big oil and gas companies are looking at hydrogen but it’s still very costly. Maybe in time with the price of electricity going down or having big offshore wind projects maybe hydrogen will make more economic sense,” she said, adding with a smile, “But in Romania it’s not really the hottest topic at the moment.”

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Co-founder / Director of Energy & Climate Policy and Security at NE Global Media

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