The European Commission has published a plan this afternoon to make Europe "independent from Russian fossil fuels well before 2030".

The plan claims EU demand for Russian gas can be reduced by two thirds before the end of next year.

Currently Russia accounts for 45% of Europe’s gas imports, with some countries more heavily reliant than others.

Russia is also the source for 25% of the EU’s oil imports and 45% of coal imports.

The plan seeks to diversify the EU’s gas supplies and replace gas used in heating and power generation.

Speaking at the launch of the plan in Strasbourg, the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen said: "...We simply cannot rely on a supplier who explicitly threatens us."

The Commission’s Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal, Frans Timmermans said: "...Putin’s war in Ukraine demonstrates the urgency of accelerating our clean energy transition."

The EU’s Commissioner for Energy, Kadri Simson, said the Commission will propose that gas storage in the EU needs to be filled to at least 90% by October 1st each year.

This will be contained in a legislative proposal to be introduced next month.

The plan also includes price regulation, state aid and "tax measures to protect European households and businesses" against the impact of high energy prices.

The Commission’s plans will be discussed with EU leaders at Versailles later this week.

The plan also includes the possibility for "high energy sector profits" and the returns from emissions trading to be redistributed to consumers.

Also, EU state aid rules will be changed to provide short-term support to companies affected by high energy prices. This will all be wrapped up in a new ‘State aid Temporary Crisis Framework’ following consultations with member states.

The Commission will also examine the possibility of imposing temporary price limits on energy.

Diversifying away from Russian fossil fuels will involve higher LNG imports and larger volumes of biomethane and renewable hydrogen.

It will also involve more renewables and "addressing infrastructure bottlenecks."

The Russian invasion of Ukraine last month has triggered an overhaul of the 27-country EU's energy priorities as Brussels seeks to wrest countries free from depending on Russia, which supplies around 40% of the bloc's natural gas.

The new plans come on top of climate change policies the EU is currently negotiating, which are designed to cut emissions faster this decade and would alone cut EU gas use 30% by 2030.

The Commission said gas and liquefied natural gas from countries like the US and Qatar could this year replace more than a third, 60 billion cubic metres (bcm), of the 155 bcm Europe gets annually from Russia.

And by 2030, increased biomethane and hydrogen use could also help, it added.

New wind and solar projects could replace 20 bcm of gas demand this year, while tripling capacity by 2030, adding 480GW of wind and 420GW of solar energy, could save 170 bcm a year.

Turning down thermostats by 1°C could save an extra 10 bcm this year, while by 2030, replacing gas boilers with 30 million heat pumps could save a further 35 bcm, the Commission added.

Some countries are seeking more EU funding to protect consumers from soaring European gas prices, which hit fresh highs this week.

Countries can tax energy companies' profits from high gas prices, to offset higher electricity bills, the Commission said.

The International Energy Agency has said such taxes could raise €200 billion this year.

Gas flows to Europe have so far been steady since the invasion, which Russia calls a "special military operation".

However, Moscow yesterday warned that Western sanctions on Russian oil - an idea supported by the US, but which has split EU nations - could prompt it to close a major gas pipeline to Europe.

Additional reporting from Reuters