The crisis in Ukraine has highlighted the fragility of the European Union's energy security. Currently, the 28-country group imports around 30 percent of its gas from Russia – a level that has added urgency to the search for alternative sources of energy.
José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, sought to reinforce the importance of Europe's energy independence earlier this month.
"Discussions on Ukraine also reflect the importance of a stronger and truly European energy policy – a policy that strengthens our energy security and our competitiveness and lowers our reliance on imported fossil fuels," he said in a speech at a meeting of the European Council in Brussels.
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U.S. President Barack Obama added weight to the argument this week. "I think that Europe collectively is going to need to examine, in light of what's happened, their energy policies to find other additional ways that they can diversify and accelerate energy independence," he said.
In a climate of political, military and economic upheaval, the idea of self-sufficiency through renewables is fast gaining traction. The European Commission has set ambitious targets for the continent, proposing that the EU reduce carbon emissions, to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030, while at the same time seeking to increase the proportion of energy produced by renewables to 20 percent by 2020.