The Platform


Recent events have prompted Europe to ask itself some pretty uncomfortable questions about its energy future.

Two years after much of the world was forced to contend with a global pandemic, the world was again shocked as we watched events unfold in Ukraine. No one expected that another war could break out on European soil in the 21st century.

Just when the energy industry was beginning to find its pace again following two years of global lockdowns, the price of energy began to skyrocket to unprecedented levels because of Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.

Both the war in Ukraine and volatile energy markets define our present condition, which is one of a shifting balance and a reversal of patterns. Sustainability has become more important than ever to withstand geopolitical events that can impact everyone.

Combating climate change is a global imperative. The changing climate affects economies of all scales to such a degree that we should be prepared for new rules that will directly influence how businesses operate which in turn will impact everyone.

Investments in green tech and exploring new solutions to secure sufficient energy supplies will require major capital investments. The European Green Deal is to a large degree Europe’s answer to globalization. Even though the plan existed before the pandemic and the events in Ukraine, it has also defined the future trends of an EU economy committed to local solutions, self-reliance, and a resilient set of values.

We have yet to see the full scope of the terrible consequences of the war in Ukraine, but the circumstances of the war have also prompted a green transition to make Western Europe less reliant on Russian energy supplies.

Recent events, and especially the war in Ukraine, threaten European security and have necessitated a rethinking of the concepts of management and decision-making. It would appear that one’s ability to shift gears and quickly revise previous decisions or actions defines the resilience of any business system.

As all our value systems have been put to a test, communities need to make important decisions moving forward. Prior to the war in Ukraine, nuclear energy was largely a taboo subject when discussing clean energy, while natural gas was considered a temporary resource in the transition to a low-carbon economy. Ukraine created a situation where the reduction of dependency on Russian gas became a priority for the European Union.

In terms of long-term expectations, one must consider what the energy market and the EU economy as a whole may look like once the war in Ukraine is over. The issue of non-dependency on Russian gas needs a permanent solution as it can be expected that buyers will continue to look for alternative sources outside of Russia. In the present circumstances, when we consider the introduction of a price cap and measures to limit the price payable to renewable electricity, one also needs to consider what is happening to the idea of the free market.

Both the war in Ukraine and the pandemic created a need to fast-track a transition to a green economy. But now is the time to consider what levels of economic pain consumers are willing to tolerate. The war in Ukraine has also reminded us that no price is too high for political stability and a safe environment.

The European Union and small member states like Croatia and others are facing negative and far-fetching demographic trends. Demography should be considered equally if not more important than energy independence and stability. Labour and an able workforce are extremely important considerations for any community or country to survive. Governments and corporations alike still need to find a way to identify and also to keep the best in human resources.

These are important questions that need to be answered as the war in Ukraine enters its second year and energy markets continue their volatility.

Pavao Vujnovac is an investor, entrepreneur, and Owner and former CEO of PPD and ENNA. Under his leadership, he successfully pioneered PPD as an established company throughout the region and a leader in natural gas trading in Croatia. Vujnovac champions a philosophy of business activity with positive impact in mind. Strategic decisions across the organization are continuously implemented to correlate with the companies’ corporate social responsibility targets. Specifically within the transport and goods sector of the business, working with this outlook at the forefront has led to the creation of new business opportunities and exciting alternative possibilities.