Sunday, July 21, 2024
HomeUkraine’s energy futureEU gas use should be cut by 15% this winter, says Commission

EU gas use should be cut by 15% this winter, says Commission

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen asked today all EU countries to reduce their gas demand by 15 per cent from August to next April and work together to prepare for an event of a total gas cut-off from Russia.

Reducing gas use and safety net for Member States

The measure is part of the Commission’s Save Gas for a Safe Winter plan presented today as a response to both the risk and the costs for Europe in case of further or full disruption of Russian gas supplies.

The EU faces the risk of further gas supply cuts from Russia, due to the Kremlin’s weaponisation of gas exports, with almost half of EU Member States already affected by reduced deliveries, underlined the President of the Commission.

Russian President Vladimir Putin warned yesterday that there could be a further reduction in gas supplies to Europe as the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, which forms the single largest link for Russian gas deliveries to the continent, remained closed for annual maintenance.

The Commission proposed a new legislative tool and a European Gas Demand Reduction Plan, to significantly reduce gas use in Europe until next spring. The new Council Regulation on Coordinated Demand Reduction Measures for Gas would set a target for all Member States to reduce gas demand by 15 per cent between 1 August 2022 and 31 March 2023.

The Commission highlighted that to achieve this goal all consumers, public administrations, households, owners of public buildings, power suppliers and industry can and should take measures to save gas.

The new Regulation would also give the Commission the possibility to declare, after consulting the Member States, a so-called Union Alert on security of supply, imposing a mandatory gas demand reduction on all Member States. This emergency could be triggered when there is a substantial risk of a severe gas shortage or an exceptionally high gas demand.

Member States should update their national emergency plans by the end of September to show how they intend to meet the reduction target and should report to the Commission on progress every two months. Member States requesting solidarity gas supplies will be required to demonstrate the measures they have taken to reduce demand domestically.

EU countries are required to put in place the necessary arrangements to make the provision of solidarity gas possible in practice, which means that EU countries must reach bilateral agreements with their neighbours and agree on the next steps, should solidarity gas be needed.

Commission President Ursula von der Leyen underlined that although some Member States are more directly exposed to Russian gas and are therefore more vulnerable to disruptions, all member states will suffer if the bloc fails to act together as it would have an impact on the single market and the economy.

A 15 per cent reduction in gas consumption equates to about 45 billion cubic metres of gas and that would enable the bloc to make it safely through the winter in case of a complete cut-off from Russia.

“It’s important that all Member States contribute in the saving, the storing and are ready to share gas,” she said. However, some Member States have already expressed their opposition to the Commission’s proposal.

“We are against imposing mandatory reduction targets,” said Polish Minister of Climate and Environment, Anna Moskwa after meeting Commissioner for Energy, Kadri Simson last week. “The solidarity mechanism must not lead to a reduction in the energy security of any of the Member States,” she added. Poland admits that the coordination of national efforts and plans is essential, but it should remain voluntary.

Energy saved in summer is energy available for winter

To help EU countries deliver the necessary demand reductions, the Commission has adopted a European Gas Demand Reduction Plan which sets out measures, principles and criteria for coordinated demand reduction. The Plan focuses on the substitution of gas with other fuels and overall energy savings in all sectors.

Where possible, priority should be given to switching to renewables or cleaner, less carbon-intensive or polluting options. However, the Commission said that switching to coal, oil or nuclear may be necessary as a temporary measure, as long as it avoids long-term carbon lock-in.

Another important pillar of energy saving is the reduction of heating and cooling. The Commission urges all Member States to launch public awareness campaigns to promote the reduction of heating and cooling on a broad scale.

To set an example, Member States could mandate a targeted lowering of heating and cooling in buildings operated by public authorities.

Shifting away from Russian gas

Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Commission adopted the REPowerEU Plan to end the EU’s dependence on Russian fossil fuels as soon as possible, setting out measures on diversification of energy suppliers, energy savings and energy efficiency, and an accelerated roll-out of renewable energy.

The EU has also recently adopted new legislation requiring EU underground gas storage to be filled to 80 per cent of capacity by 1 November 2022 to ensure supply for the coming winter. EU gas storage is at 64 per cent full currently, the Commission informed. However, further reduction of Russian gas deliveries will make reaching the 80 per cent target very challenging.

An EU Energy Platform was also set up to aggregate energy demand at the regional level and facilitate future joint purchasing of both gas and green hydrogen.

The EU also pushed to diversify away from Russian gas with higher LNG and pipeline imports from other suppliers. Gas supply from other sources has increased by 75 per cent compared to last year.

The REPowerEU aims to accelerate the instalment of renewable energy across the EU and the deployment of energy efficiency investments. Over 20 per cent of the EU’s energy currently comes from renewables, and the Commission has proposed to more than double this to at least 45 per cent by 2030. Since the beginning of the year, an estimated additional 20 GW of renewable energy capacity have been added, which is the equivalent of more than 4 bcm of natural gas, the Commission revealed.

The Commission’s proposal will be discussed by EU ministers during an extraordinary energy summit on 26 July.

Sign up for our newsletters

    Monthly newsletter – Delivering the most important energy stories of the month selected by our Editor-in-chief
    Weekly Oil&Gas roundup - All major news about the oil and gas industry, LNG developments, the upscaling of new gases and related EU regulations arriving in your mailbox every Monday.
    Weekly Renewables&Climate roundup - All major news about investments in renewable energy sources, environment protection, green hydrogen and new innovative ways to tackle the climate crisis arriving in your mailbox every Tuesday.

    Most Popular