European Commissioner President Ursual von der Leyen presented on Wednesday an emergency plan for the case Russia halts the supply of natural gas to Europe. The plan called “Save gas for a safe winter” provides that EU member state reduce annual gas consumption by 15%.
“In case of a European alert, the 15% are binding,” von der Leyen said in a tweet.
EU countries should do their best now to save 15% of annual gas consumption.
We are providing guidance to do that, in a smart way.
Right now the goal is aspirational.
In case of a European alert, the 15% are binding.
The quicker we act, the more we save, the safer we are. pic.twitter.com/4ONV83T6Kh
— Ursula von der Leyen (@vonderleyen) July 20, 2022
Prompt was the reaction of Spain in a biting tone
Spain rejects EU proposal to cut gas consumption by 15% with a jibe that was overused by Merkel officials during the eurozone crisis: "Unlike other countries, we Spaniards have not lived beyond our means from an energy point of view" https://t.co/CMqhFVUN5S
— Bojan Pancevski (@bopanc) July 20, 2022
EU Commission plan in detail
The European Union faces the risk of further gas supply cuts from Russia, due to the Kremlin’s weaponisation of gas exports, with almost half of our Member States already affected by reduced deliveries. Taking action now can reduce both the risk and the costs for Europe in case of further or full disruption, strengthening European energy resilience.
The Commission is therefore proposing today a new legislative tool and a European Gas Demand Reduction Plan, to reduce gas use in Europe by 15% until next spring. All consumers, public administrations, households, owners of public buildings, power suppliers and industry can and should take measures to save gas. The Commission will also accelerate work on supply diversification, including joint purchasing of gas to strengthen the EU’s possibility of sourcing alternative gas deliveries.
The Commission is proposing a new Council Regulation on Coordinated Demand Reduction Measures for Gas, based on Article 122 of the Treaty. The new Regulation would set a target for all Member States to reduce gas demand by 15% between 1 August 2022 and 31 March 2023. The new Regulation would also give the Commission the possibility to declare, after consulting Member States, a ‘Union Alert’ on security of supply, imposing a mandatory gas demand reduction on all Member States. The Union Alert can 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.
To help Member States deliver the necessary demand reductions, the Commission has also adopted a European Gas Demand Reduction Plan which sets out measures, principles and criteria for coordinated demand reduction. The Plan focuses on substitution of gas with other fuels, and overall energy savings in all sectors. It aims to safeguard supply to households and essential users like hospitals, but also industries that are decisive for the provision of essential products and services to the economy, and for EU supply chains and competitiveness. The Plan provides guidelines for Member States to take into account when planning curtailment.
Energy saved in summer is energy available for winter
By substituting gas with other fuels and saving energy this summer, more gas can be stored for winter. Acting now will reduce the negative GDP impact, by avoiding unplanned actions in a crisis situation later. Early steps also spread out the efforts over time, ease market concerns and price volatility, and allow for a better design of targeted, cost-effective measures protecting industry.
The Gas Demand Reduction Plan proposed by the Commission is based on consultations with Member States and industry. A wide range of measures are available to reduce gas demand. Before considering curtailments, Member States should exhaust all fuel substitution possibilities, non-mandatory savings schemes and alternative energy sources. Where possible, priority should be given to switching to renewables or cleaner, less carbon-intensive or polluting options. However, switching to coal, oil or nuclear may be necessary as a temporary measure, as long as it avoids long term carbon lock-in. Market-based measures can mitigate the risks to society and the economy. For example, Member States could launch auction or tender systems to incentivise energy reduction by industry. Member States may offer support in line with the amendment of the State aid Temporary Crisis Framework, adopted by the Commission today.
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, and to implement the EU ‘Save Energy Communication’, containing numerous options for short-term savings. To set an example, Member States could mandate a targeted lowering of heating and cooling in buildings operated by public authorities.
The Demand Reduction Plan will also help Member States identify and prioritise, within their “non-protected” consumer groups, the most critical customers or installations based on overall economic considerations and the following criteria:
- Societal criticality – sectors including health, food, safety, security, refineries and defence, as well as the provision of environmental services;
- Cross-border supply chains – sectors or industries providing goods and services critical to the smooth functioning of EU supply chains;
- Damage to installations – to avoid that they could not resume production without significant delays, repairs, regulatory approval and costs;
- Gas reduction possibilities and product/component substitution – the extent to which industries can switch to imported components/products and the extent to which demand for products or components may be met through imports.
Background: What the EU has done to secure its energy supply
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. REPowerEU sets out measures on diversification of energy suppliers, energy savings and energy efficiency, and an accelerated roll-out of renewable energy. The EU has also adopted new legislation requiring EU underground gas storage to be filled to 80% of capacity by 1 November 2022 to ensure supply for the coming winter. In this context, the Commission has carried out an in-depth review of national preparedness plans to face possible major supply disruptions.
Full article at EU Commission here.
Meanwhile Gazprom started again the supply with Nord Stream 1 on Thursday morning after a 10-day halt for maintenance.
PS KTG personally reduced gas consumption by 90%-95% (5%-10% still using for cooking only) already in January 2022, when the heating bill for December 2021 arrived, three times up than usual. And that was before the Russian invasion of Ukraine. OUr “safe winter” was a “freezing winter” with minimum use of A/C for heating that resulted in higher electricity bill. #justsaying.