Monday, August 8

Brussels proposes to restrict gas consumption in the face of the threat of cuts by Russia

The European Commission is already taking the first steps to reduce gas consumption with the aim of increasing reserves in the face of a possible supply cut from Russia this autumn. Brussels will approve a savings plan next Wednesday with a series of measures that range from lowering the thermostat in public buildings, offices and shopping centers to 19 degrees and raising the temperature of the air conditioning to 25 degrees to reduce electricity consumption at auction of gas capacities for the industry to reduce its energy consumption, according to El País. “The EU needs to be prepared for this scenario and consider additional measures in accordance with the challenge that it entails,” says the Commission.

Spain accelerates its gas reserves for next winter and is emerging as an operations center to supply the EU

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The objective of the plan that has the name ‘Save gas for a safe winter’ is to prepare Europe for interruptions in the supply of gas from Russia. The plan document stresses that measures to reduce consumption “must be taken immediately and jointly” to “significantly reduce the risks of an imbalance between supply and demand during the coming winter and beyond.”

The Commission document, a Communication entitled “Save gas for a safe winter”, is committed to starting to save fuel now and provides for the obligation for public buildings to set the heating thermostat to a maximum of 19 degrees and the air conditioned to a minimum of 25. Brussels also proposes to encourage the substitution of gas for other fuels.

The Commission’s recommendations revolve around four criteria: maintaining supply to key companies (health, security or defense), the impact on supply chains, to prevent it from affecting essential companies (pharmaceutical, chemical…) , prioritize supply cut-offs to companies that can look for alternatives to gas and avoid cut-offs to facilities that could suffer irreparable damage. Given this situation, the Commission does not rule out the use of fossil fuels other than gas, including coal, as long as they are temporary and do not compromise climate objectives.

“The latest disruptions in the supply of gas from Russia suggest a considerable risk that the total paralysis of supply may materialize this year and in an abrupt and unilateral manner,” the Commission points out in its document. If this were to happen “it will have significant effects on the European economy and will affect all member states, even if the most immediate will depend on the level of Russian gas imports in each country”

In this sense, the third vice president of the Government and minister for the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge, Teresa Ribera, warned this Thursday that Spain must prepare “for a possible gas shortage scenario in the EU in the coming months” although currently the country “does not face supply security problems”.

“European countries must prepare for a gas shortage scenario in the coming months, as a result of the war in Ukraine. Spain does not face problems of security of supply, but like the other community partners, we are designing a Contingency Plan to face this scenario in a coordinated way with our neighbors and with the European Commission”, said the vice president, according to the Ministry in a statement.

Ribera explained that the Contingency Plan revolves “on three axes”. “How can we promote the most intelligent possible use of energy from the point of view of saving and efficiency; how we can replace gas with other fuels and advance in electrification and the implementation of renewable gases; and how we can help neighboring countries worse off and with worse prospects than us”, he added.

“To prepare the Plan we are meeting with different actors: the energy sector, large industrial consumers, consumer and user organisations, social agents and various regional and local administrations”, defended the minister, who pointed out that they will also share the plan with the parliamentary groups. After them, “and in response to the recommendations that the Commission will present soon”, the Government will open another round of contacts before submitting it to the Council of Ministers, the minister concluded.

The company that manages the gas network, Enagás, launched last Tuesday a message of calm in the face of possible supply cuts this coming winter if Russia turns off the tap to Europe. A situation that can generate tensions in other European countries but that in Spain, at the moment, is viewed with relative confidence. Relative because, at the same time, the Government urges to promote energy saving, in a context with skyrocketing prices and with no sign of a downward trend in the coming months.

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