Shorter showers, less lighting, sweating in the office: With measures like these, the EU countries want to save gas in the coming months in order to be prepared for an emergency - a possible delivery stop from Russia. But an overview by the German Press Agency shows that some countries have not yet presented any measures to implement the EU's gas emergency plan.
This came into force on Tuesday and stipulates that the 27 states will voluntarily reduce their gas consumption by 15 percent from the beginning of August to the end of March 2023, compared to the average consumption of the past five years. If that is not enough, binding targets can come into force.
According to the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Protection, Germany, which is particularly dependent on Russian gas, should achieve more than the agreed 15 percent. "We see a greater need for savings here for Germany," it said. In order to save gas, a hard coal-fired power plant, which was last held in reserve, has been producing electricity again since the end of July. According to the federal government, more are to follow, as well as lignite-fired power plants. A government campaign aims to motivate people to save energy.
Savings are also planned in public buildings in which areas that are only used sporadically, such as corridors or foyers, are no longer to be heated. For natural gas heating systems in residential buildings, there should be a mandatory check, for example to lower the temperature during the flow or at night. For companies, the opportunity to sell unused gas volumes in auctions should offer incentives to save energy.
Austria also relies on other fuels. The decommissioned coal-fired power plant in Mellach is to be put back into operation if necessary. In addition, large companies and power plants should also be able to use crude oil as an alternative to gas from autumn, with the state bearing the costs for the conversion. In addition, a campaign to save energy will be launched in the autumn. According to the Ministry of Energy, the high prices alone have already ensured that around seven percent less gas was consumed in the first half of the year than in the same period last year.
In France, public administration and the private sector should take the lead in saving energy. To this end, targeted plans are being drawn up for the sectors, including air conditioning and lighting in buildings. For example, authorities are required not to leave devices on standby and to cool and heat less. Some supermarkets have announced that they will close the doors more consistently when the air conditioning is on. In case of doubt, the government wants to enforce this with fines for all transactions. At the same time, the heavily shut down nuclear power plants are to be set up as well as possible for the winter and the production of renewable energy is to be promoted.
The Netherlands are primarily focusing on savings measures by the population with an advertising campaign: Citizens should take shorter showers and turn the heating down by at least one degree. However, specifications for the industry are not excluded and should be announced after the summer. Since the start of the energy crisis, the country has used around 25 percent less gas per month than in previous years. In Belgium, too, consumption fell in the first half of the year simply because of the high prices. The government has also called on citizens to save energy.
In Italy, public offices are only allowed to be cooled down to 25 degrees, and the temperature when heating is reduced from 20 to 19 degrees. It is also being considered to shorten the heating period by two weeks. For the time being, no restrictions on gas consumption are planned for industry.
In Greece, the authorities are no longer allowed to cool rooms below 26 degrees, and street lighting is to be reduced to what is absolutely necessary. A program financed by the state and EU funds is also currently underway, in which citizens can replace old air conditioners and refrigerators with new, energy-saving devices. In addition, some coal-fired power plants are to be restarted, while other power plants are to be switched from gas to oil operation.
In Spain, all public facilities such as department stores, cinemas, workplaces, hotels, train stations and airports will only be allowed to cool their premises to 27 degrees and heat them to a maximum of 19 degrees. In addition, shops and businesses with automatic systems must keep their doors closed. The lighting of unused offices, shop windows and monuments must be switched off after 10 p.m.
According to the government, Finland has already halved its gas consumption in the last ten years and has further reduced it since the Russian invasion of Ukraine - according to the government there is no immediate need for further measures. In Denmark, too, the energy saving target has already been achieved. In Sweden, the Swedish Energy Agency is encouraging households to save energy with a comprehensive online guide.
According to Economy and Infrastructure Minister Riina Sikkut, consumption in Estonia has already fallen by 16 percent compared to the five-year average. Nevertheless, heat suppliers and industry are called upon to save gas and switch to other fuels. In addition, domestic but climate-damaging oil shale could partially replace the gas in the coming heating period.
According to Deputy Energy Minister Albinas Zananavicius, Lithuania does not have to take any additional measures. The reason for this, in addition to a price-related decline in demand, is also the plans of the capital Vilnius to replace natural gas with heating oil in the coming heating period. In Latvia, the government is still working on guidelines to implement energy saving measures.
In Poland, the national-conservative government does not see itself bound by the savings target of 15 percent. The voluntary nature of the regulation is emphasized. In Hungary, the right-wing government of Prime Minister Viktor Orban categorically rules out the implementation of the goal.
The Czech Republic relies largely on voluntary measures. For example, consumers in the Czech Republic have already reduced their gas consumption because of the high prices. There are no concrete plans in Slovenia either, a study is in progress. The transitional government in Bulgaria has not yet formulated any measures to implement the 15 percent target.