Fearing that Russia will cut off supplies of natural gas, the head of Germany’s energy regulatory agency on Saturday called on the population to save fuel and prepare for winter when usage increases.
The president of the Federal Network Agency Klaus Mueller suggested home and apartment owners check their boilers and radiators and clean and adjust them to maximize their efficiency.
“Maintenance can reduce gas consumption by 10% to 15%,” the official told Funke Mediengruppe, a newspaper and magazine publisher.
Mueller said that residents and property owners need to use the remaining 12 weeks before the cold starts to prepare. He added that families should start talking now about “whether each room has to be brought to its usual temperature in the winter or whether some can be a little cooler.”
The request came after Russia decreased its supply of natural gas to Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Italy and the Czech Republic this month, when the nations of the European Union try to fill their reserves with the fuel used to generate electricity and heat homes in the winter.
Russian state-owned energy giant Gazprom blamed technical problems for reducing the volume of natural gas it sends through the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline, which runs from Russia to Germany, under the Baltic Sea.
The company said equipment repairs in Canada were stuck there due to Western sanctions on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.
German Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck, who is also the Minister of Economy and Climate and is the national head for energy issues, has warned that a “blockade” of the gas pipeline is possible from July 11, when regular maintenance should begin. In previous summers, the work has involved shutting down Nord Stream 1 for about 10 days, he said.
Mueller also suspects that The upcoming temporary shutdown of the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline, which Russia usually starts annually on July 11 to examine the state of the facilities, may end up being the prelude to a complete suspension in retaliation for international sanctions linked to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The next routine maintenance of the gas pipeline could “become a political maintenance that lasts longer”Mueller declared in comments to the media of the Fuenke conglomerate.
Germany, the largest economy in the European Union, relies heavily on gas from Moscow to generate electricity and keep its industry running.
The EU, which before the invasion of Ukraine received 40% of its gas from Russia, has presented plans to cut imports by two-thirds by the end of the year and completely abandon Russian gas by 2027. The bloc has already said it will ban Russian coal from August and most Russian oil in six months.
Efforts are underway to get more gas by pipeline from Norway and Azerbaijan, while ramping up conservation and renewable energy projects is expected to play a minor role. Germany, which has no liquefied natural gas terminals, has ordered four floating terminals, two of which are due to come online this year.
Despite the emphasis on renewable energy, the crisis is pushing countries back to fossil fuels. Germany is pushing legislation to revive coal-fired power plants as a temporary patch, despite plans to phase out coal entirely by 2030.
Secondly, a total supply cut would send gas prices skyrocketing to their record high of 206 euros per megawatt hour on March 7, further fueling inflation. In early 2021, before Russia built up troops on the Ukrainian border, gas cost about €19 per megawatt hour.
By Kirsten Grieshaber Associated Press
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