Energy crisis: Brussels wants to cut EU gas consumption by 15% | War in Ukraine

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Energy crisis: Brussels wants to cut EU gas consumption by 15% | War in Ukraine

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen calls on member countries to the European Union to reduce their gas demand by 15% to overcome the drop in Russian deliveries.

Limit the heating of certain buildings, postpone the closure of nuclear power plants, encourage companies to reduce their needs… Brussels proposed on Wednesday a plan aimed at reducing European gas demand by 15% to overcome the drop in Russian deliveries.< /p>

In order to prepare for winter, the European Commission has proposed an arsenal of measures that will enable the Twenty-Seven to face a possible interruption of Russian supplies. They made up 40% of their imports until last year.

Russia uses gas as a weapon. In the event of a total shutdown, Europe will have to be ready, said EU executive chairwoman Ursula von der Leyen.

This plan still needs to be discussed by the Member States. It provides that each country will have to do everything possible to reduce, between August 2022 and March 2023, its gas consumption by at least 15% compared to the average of the last five years over the same period. States will have to detail by the end of September their roadmap to achieve this.

The Nord Stream gas pipeline, through which passes a third of Russian gas deliveries to the ;UE, has been closed since July 11 for routine maintenance due to be completed on Thursday. But the Europeans fear that Moscow will not reopen the tap. In previous weeks, Russia had already cut 60% of its shipments via Nord Stream.

Moscow's cut in gas supply worries countries in the European Union, where the idea is getting closer rationing measures.

In the event of a substantial risk of a serious shortage or exceptionally high demand, and if voluntary efforts were not enough, Brussels could activate an alert mechanism – after consultation with the States – which would make it possible to set binding production reduction targets. request for the Twenty-Seven.

The European executive had already presented in the spring a strategy to free itself from Russian hydrocarbons, by imposing on the States a minimum filling of the gas reserves, diversifying suppliers and developing renewable energies.

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Despite an increase in imports from Norway, Azerbaijan or Algeria, and a tripling of liquefied natural gas shipments since March American, Europeans fear a difficult winter.

Ms von der Leyen estimated that it would be possible to reduce annual gas consumption in the EU by around 45 billion cubic metres. For comparison, in 2020 Russia had supplied some 153 billion cubic meters to the Twenty-Seven.

Some 11 billion cubic meters would come from, among other things, a drop in heating or air conditioning in buildings.

Brussels calls on States to adopt binding measures to limit heating and air conditioning in public and commercial buildings, where it is is technically feasible.

Brussels encourages the use of alternative sources for district heating, heat pumps in private homes, and recommends communication campaigns to encourage households to lower the thermostat by one degree this winter. This would save up to 10 billion cubic meters of gas per year according to the Commission.

However, protected customers (households, social services, hospitals, SMEs, whose supply is guaranteed) represent less than 37% of total gas consumption. The Commission is therefore targeting electricity production and industry.

Priority should be given to renewable energies, but switching to coal, oil or nuclear may be necessary on a temporary basis, recognizes Brussels, which asks countries wishing to give up the civilian atom to postpone their plans to close nuclear power plants.

For industrialists, the text recalls the existence of other solutions (switching to biomass or biomethane, electrification of certain machines, etc.) and proposes establishing auction systems that would offer companies compensation in exchange for a reduction in consumption.

Even for sectors with little leeway to do without gas, such as chemicals, which use it as raw material, it would be significantly cheaper to reduce their demand gradually rather than waiting to suffer r a sudden break, says the Commission.

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