Germans urged to cut gas consumption by 20%

Russia could stop gas deliveries at any moment, and consumers should be prepared, a top energy official says

Germans should cut energy consumption by at least 20% to avoid gas shortages this coming winter, Klaus Mueller, the head of Germany’s federal regulator for gas and power networks, has told Welt am Sonntag newspaper.

Consumers have to save at least 20% – so much more than before… 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,” the Federal Network Agency chief stated in an interview published on Saturday.

Mueller said Germany should also cut its gas exports to neighboring countries by 20%, and import 10 to 15 gigawatt-hours of gas to avoid shortages.

If we don’t save a lot and don’t get any additional gas, we’ll have a problem,” Mueller said.

His statements come as Russian energy exporter Gazprom has cut gas flows to Germany through the Nord Stream pipeline to 20%, citing technical issues and a turbine that in recent weeks the company has been unable to receive back from Canada after repairs due to Ukraine-related sanctions. Mueller earlier stated that Russia could use the issue with the turbine as an opportunity to cut the gas supply to Germany completely, which makes it crucial for the country to save as much gas as possible.

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EU confirms gas rationing plan

Germany last month raised its gas storage targets for the coming fall to 75% by September 1, 85% by October 1 and 95% by November 1. Berlin also introduced energy saving measures, which prioritize private households in the event of a gas supply shortage. However, Mueller said this doesn’t mean that households are free to use excessive heating.

They are certainly not protected by the regulation, if they think they have a right to heat their apartment to excessive temperatures in this emergency situation… In order to secure jobs, I think austerity measures for private households are legitimate,” Mueller stated.

The official dismissed the effectiveness of fracking, which some regional politicians have proposed as a way to prevent gas shortages.

“The only measure that would help would be to put gas in the storage tanks, in the industrial plants or in the private heating systems over the next 24 months. Fracking will not do that in Germany,” he stated.

He did not, however, rule out that the country will have to continue using nuclear power plants for energy generation over the coming months.

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