How Europe plans to reduce gas consumption

From cutting shower times, slowing down and fining retailers for not closing their doors, Europeans are embarking on a goal to reduce energy consumption in time for winter, and some citizens have taken to social media to share their experiences .

German Christopher Hipp, for example, gave tips on how to defrost a freezer on Twitter, saying that the more electricity saved, the more frost-free the kitchen appliance is.

Cindy, who lives in the Netherlands, shared her attempts to take a shower within a 5 minute time goal – failing at 6 minutes 21 seconds. “It took 48 seconds for the shower to heat up,” she tweeted.

Ruud Vuik and his daughter, who also lives in the Netherlands, tried the same thing by using a blue water-drop shaped shower timer for a week, starting at 5 minutes before trickling down to a loud alarm clock.

A customer browses alcoholic beverages in a refrigerator at Exale Brewing and Taproom in east London on August 19, 2022. The European Commission agreed in July on a voluntary target to reduce gas consumption by 15% by 2023, compared to what the average consumption was from 2016 to 2021.

Hollie Adams | Afp | Getty Images

These targets are part of the EU’s wider effort to reduce demand for natural gas this winter, using an arsenal of methods of its choice.

The European Commission, the executive branch of the EU, agreed in July on a voluntary target to reduce gas consumption by 15% by March 2023, compared to the average consumption from 2016 to 2021.

These are the recommendations of some EU governments:


President Emmanuel Macron called for a 10% reduction in gas consumption and warned that forced energy savings will be on the table if voluntary efforts prove insufficient. Russian gas imports account for 15% of French gas consumption, making it less dependent on Russia than most of its EU colleagues.

The lights of the iconic Eiffel Tower will go out about an hour earlier at 11:45 p.m., the mayor of Paris announced on September 13. Shop owners who leave the doors of air-conditioned shops open will be fined 750 euros ($751). prohibited from 1 a.m. to 6 a.m. Germany

Germany is most exposed to cuts in Russian gas supply. German Economy Minister Robert Habeck released a statement introducing a series of measures that came into effect on September 2 in hopes of cutting gas consumption by about 2%.

Public buildings are heated to a maximum of 19 degrees Celsius. Storefronts should not be lit at night.Prohibition of heating private swimming pools.Austria

Austria is also heavily dependent on Russian gas, which in previous years obtained more than 80% from Moscow. Last week, the Austrian climate department launched an energy-saving campaign called “Mission 11”, with these recommendations:

Slow down to save energy โ€” at a recommended speed limit of 100 km/h. Defrost a freezer regularly. Reduce shower time. Spain

While Spain is not as dependent as other EU member states on Russian gas, which accounted for 14.5% of its imports, the Spanish parliament has approved an 8% reduction in gas consumption.

Climate temperatures in most public buildings and businesses should not fall below 27 degrees Celsius in summer. And the heating should not exceed 19 degrees Celsius in winter. Doors of air-conditioned shops must be closed. No nighttime lighting of shop exteriors or public monuments. Finland

Although 75% of Finland’s gas supply was made up of Russian imports, the country is not as sensitive to Moscow’s whims. Natural gas accounts for less than 6% of total energy consumption in Finland. In the last week of August, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment announced a campaign entitled ‘One degree lower’, which aims to get 75% of Finns to reduce their own energy consumption by:

Lowering the household temperature on a thermostat.Use less electronics, fewer light sources.Limit showering to 5 minutes.Italy

Italy imported nearly 40% of its gas from Russia last year. At the initiative of the Italian Ministry of Ecological Transition, the country aims to reduce gas consumption by 7% (5.3 billion cubic meters) by March:

Thermostat in commercial buildings lowered by one degree to 17 degrees Celsius. Temperature thermostat of residential blocks regulated at 19 degrees Celsius. Radiators switched off for at least an hour a day.The Netherlands

The Dutch government launched a campaign in April to reduce dependence on Russian gas, which accounts for about 12.5% โ€‹โ€‹of Dutch gas consumption.

Shower of 5 minutes. Lower central heating. Enough for the winter?

Some reports estimate that if Europe can cut its gas consumption by 15% by March 2023, the region will be able to cope with the winter, despite limited supplies and rising energy prices.

“We’re already there … the savings this month have already exceeded the target of 15%,” said Goldman Sachs senior energy strategist Samantha Dart.

Facilities of the Fluxys gas storage station in Loenhout, Belgium. The European Commission agreed in July on a voluntary target to reduce gas consumption by 15% by 2023 compared to the average consumption from 2016 to 2021.

Kenzo Tribouillard | Afp | Getty Images

She added that August’s estimated gas consumption in northwestern Europe was 13% below average.

“We believe this is more than enough savings to get through the winter without a power outage or a heating crisis,” Dart said, assuming the average winter weather scenario holds up.

Difficult, but not impossible

According to another analyst, that target looks ambitious, especially as the winter season kicks off.

During that period, household consumption for heating “far exceeds industrial demand”, which has already fallen by 20-30% in most of Europe, said Henning Gloystein, director of Eurasia Group.

“Achieving the 15% reduction target versus business as usual will be difficult, but not impossible,” Gloystein told CNBC.

If Europe succeeds in destroying demand and accessing alternative gas supplies, “severe rationing” could be avoided, Gloystein added.

A group of houses in Cercedilla, on April 20, 2022 in Madrid, Spain, when Madrid activated the Winter Shine Plan for snow, rain and wind. A cold winter could make it difficult to achieve the demand reduction needed in Europe.

Rafael Bastante | Europe Press | Getty Images

He said an “immediate reduction” in household consumption could come at the same time most gas tariffs in the EU rise on Oct. 1, on top of aggressive media campaigns by governments.

Possible winter recession

Henning warned, however, that this will come at a price.

“This will almost certainly come at the cost of an EU winter recession that will hit low-income households and small industries the hardest,” he said.

A cold winter could also make it difficult to achieve the needed demand reduction, but also increase the likelihood of supply disruptions from Norway, where offshore platforms in the North Sea must be evacuated during storms, Henning said.

“If just one or two of the required measures don’t work, the situation can get pretty serious pretty quickly.”

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