Brussels proposes to cut gas demand by 15% by limiting heating or postponing the shutdown of nuclear power plants

To limit the heating of some buildings, postpone the closure of nuclear power plants and encourage companies to reduce their demand… On Wednesday July 20, Brussels proposed a plan to cut European gas demand by 15% to cope with a drop in Russian supplies.

To prepare for winter, the European Commission has prepared an arsenal that will help the EU27 deal with potential disruptions in Russian supplies – which accounted for 40% of their imports until last year. “Russia uses gas as a weapon. In the event of a complete disruption, Europe must be prepared.said Ursula van der Leyen, head of the European Commission.

read more: The article is reserved for our subscribers Europeans are preparing for a winter without Russian gas

The proposal still needs to be discussed by member states. Each country provides that it should “Do your best” Between August 2022 and March 2023, its gas consumption was reduced by at least 15% compared to the average of the last five years during the same period. To achieve this, states have to outline their roadmap by the end of September.

The Nord Stream gas pipeline, which carries about a third of Russian gas supplies to the European Union, has been closed since July 11 for routine maintenance, which ends on Thursday. But Europeans fear that Moscow will not reopen the pipeline. In previous weeks, Russia had already cut 60% of its exports via Nord Stream.

Maybe “Substantial risk of severe shortage or exceptionally high demand”And if voluntary efforts are insufficient, Brussels wants to implement an alert mechanism – after consultation with states. “Linking Demand Reduction Goals” At twenty seven. The European executive already presented in the spring a strategy to rid itself of Russian hydrocarbons, by imposing minimum gas reserves on states, diversifying suppliers and developing renewable energies.

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A hard winter

Despite increased imports from Norway, Azerbaijan and Algeria, and U.S. liquefied natural gas exports tripling since March, Europeans fear a tough winter ahead. Mme Van der Leyen estimates that annual gas consumption in the EU could be reduced by around 45 billion cubic meters. By comparison, Russia delivered about 153 billion cubic meters in 2020 for twenty-seven. About 11 billion cubic meters comes from reduced heating or air conditioning of buildings. Brussels, among other things, calls on states to adopt binding measures to regulate the heating and air conditioning of public and commercial buildings. “Wherever technically feasible”.

The Brussels district promotes the use of alternative sources of heating, including heat pumps in private homes, and recommends communication campaigns to encourage families to lower the thermostat by one degree this winter – which will save money. “Up to 10 billion mThere isTres Cubes of Gas per Year », According to the Commission.

However, the “Protected Customers” (Households, social services, hospitals, SMEs, whose supply is guaranteed) accounts for less than 37% of total gas consumption. Hence the Commission is targeting power generation and industry. “Renewables should be prioritized, but switching to coal, oil or nuclear may be necessary on an ad hoc basis.”Approves Brussels, which is asking countries that want to give up civilian nuclear power to postpone plans to shut down nuclear power plants.

For manufacturers, the text reminds of the existence of alternative solutions (switching to biomass or biomethane, electrification of some machines, etc.) and proposes to install them. “Bidding Systems” It will provide businesses “Compensations” In exchange for reduced consumption. Even sectors that have little chance of doing without gas, such as the chemical industry, use it as a raw material. “Significantly low cost” Rather than waiting for a sudden break, the commission hopes to reduce their demand gradually.

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The world with AFP

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