From the point of view of the Federal Network Agency, the efforts made to date to reduce energy consumption are not sufficient. Her boss warns: "If we don't save heavily and don't get additional gas, we'll have a problem." Accordingly, private households could also face restrictions.
The Federal Network Agency believes that consumers in Germany must save significantly more energy in order to avert a gas shortage in winter. Authorities chief Klaus Müller told the newspaper "Welt am Sonntag" that the reduction in gas supplies from Russia to just 20 percent of the agreed volume means that the shortage can only be prevented in two best-case scenarios. "For these scenarios, however, consumers must save at least 20 percent - that is, much more than before," said Müller. "In all other scenarios, there is already a risk of a gas shortage in December or we will have low storage levels at the end of the coming heating period."
In addition to the savings, the transmission of gas to neighboring countries would also have to be reduced by 20 percent, and 10 to 15 gigawatt hours of gas from other countries would also be needed. "If we don't save a lot and don't get any additional gas, we have a problem," said Müller.
In the event of a gas shortage, private households are not protected from prescribed restrictions, according to the head of the authority. "It's certainly not protected by the regulation if someone feels they need to heat their home to excessive temperatures in this emergency situation."
In principle, regulations are also conceivable that only allow the heating of individual rooms. "I don't want to speculate about anything because we're still having these discussions," said Müller. "But I want to make it clear: In order to secure jobs, I consider austerity measures for private households to be legitimate, as long as they do not touch the protected, vital area."
According to Müller, the gas production in Germany by fracking demanded by Bavaria's Prime Minister Markus Söder would not help to prevent a gas emergency. "We have to look at two winters in which we are still dependent on Russian gas. That's why only measures that would help me fill gas into storage facilities, industrial plants or private heating systems over the next 24 months," he said miller. "Fracking won't be able to do that in Germany."
Müller did not rule out longer operating times for nuclear power plants. There are challenges in supplying the coal-fired power plants with coal and a special situation in France, where one is dependent on German electricity. "We are also concerned that many people are buying electric fan heaters," said Müller. "It's an insanely expensive idea, because even with the currently astronomically high gas prices, it's still 50 percent more expensive to heat with electricity than with gas."
There are good reasons for the current second stress test for the power supply, said the head of the authority. "One should take this second stress test seriously. We will see whether it means that nuclear power plants in Germany have to run longer." The President of the Federal Network Agency did not want to answer whether an extension of the running times beyond the so-called stretching operation of a few months is conceivable: "First of all, the question arises as to what is relevant for next winter."