The Federal Network Agency has called on consumers to do more to save energy so that Germany can get through the winter even if there is a gas shortage. In the year to date, natural gas consumption is 14 percent lower than the same period last year, said Klaus Müller, President of the German Press Agency. “But I have to get to 20 percent. It still needs to go a step further.”
He pointed out that most of the saving is due to the relatively mild weather this year – mainly because of this, the heating was not as strong as last year. On the other hand, if the weather was like 2021, it would only be 5 percent.
Finance Minister Robert Habeck unveiled an energy-saving package that makes households more responsible and mandates “heating controls”. In addition, consumption in public buildings and businesses should be reduced.
The package lays an important foundation to avoid an emergency level this winter through savings, Müller said. “To do this, we need to fill more gas storage facilities, reduce gas consumption and organize further deliveries of natural gas from other countries.” The emergency level is the third and final level of the gas emergency plan. Then industrial companies would no longer be able to buy as much gas as they wanted, but would have to rely on allocations from the grid service.
Federal government joins troubled natural gas importer
Chancellor Olaf Solz announced on Friday that the state would invest in troubled gas importer Uniper and launched a levy system to take effect from September or October. It is intended to offset much of the additional cost that has arisen as a result of limited natural gas supplies from Russia and associated rising prices. All gas customers will have to pay the surcharge. The increase comes on top of market-driven price increases that are coming in gradually.
As a result, Union faction deputy leader Jens Spahn called for further relief for those on low and middle incomes. “These households should receive at least the first 5,000 kilowatt-hours for a statutory fixed price of 6.5 cents per kilowatt-hour as basic gas requirements,” the CDU politician told the German Press Agency. It is not enough to expand the housing benefit, since very few people benefit from it.
Gas prices will likely triple at least
Regarding the price development, Müller said: “If I now look at the development that took place at the beginning of the war, then purely mathematically I am at a threefold increase compared to before that time.” How the price will also evolve depends on the citizens and the company. “The more Germany manages to reduce private and industrial gas consumption, the better chance we have of getting off this crazy price level,” Müller said. “We can only do this by properly reducing consumption – it’s up to us to do it.”
The decisive question is how to get social support when it comes to saving energy. “I want to give people a clean slate and say: Prices are tough,” Müller said. “Even if industry solidarity isn’t that important to you, do what you can to reduce the costs you face.” The key message is that everyone can do something. “At least in the ways I have as a renter or a homeowner.”
Nord Stream 1: Gas is flowing again, but much less than possible
After the maintenance, Russia has been supplying gas through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to the Baltic Sea again since Thursday, but far less than is technically possible. According to the head of the authorities, uncertainty about whether Russia will continue to supply natural gas will remain. Not everything is clear.
Müller also stressed that it’s not just about the coming winter, but also the one after. “It’s no use pushing the storage tanks so far that we don’t have to shut down this winter, but we almost inevitably face a shortage in the winter of 23/24.”
Natural gas storage should be at least 95 percent full by November
The government has set a target of filling German gas storage facilities by at least 95 percent by November 1. But storage has slowed: according to data from the European gas infrastructure association GIE, the fill level recently increased by only 0.1 points to 65.3 percent – although gas is coming from Russia to a limited extent.
The economy has signaled its readiness for further austerity measures, but requires the framework conditions for this. The regulations and rules for safety at work must be adapted immediately, the director general of the Confederation of German Employers’ Associations, Steffen Kampeter, told dpa. This is especially true for questions about winter and summer room temperatures. “A lot of energy can be saved here – which of course doesn’t mean our employees will soon be working in the cold.”