The EU has faced a rapid increase in energy costs since the Russian invasion of Ukraine last year. Because of this, the bloc agreed to reduce energy usage between August 2022 and March 2023 by 15% by implementing consumption reduction targets.
Now, the EU has announced that it’s planning to extend these targets further next winter by “extending a number of emergency measures to be able to quickly fill our gas stocks and cope with possible tensions.”
The bloc managed to exceed the targets last winter due to high prices limiting the consumption of households and businesses. Although the target was a 15% reduction, statistics from Eurostat show that it was actually 19.3% lower.
However, there are still calls for further reductions this winter due to possible shortages. European imports of gas skyrocketed last year after issues with supplies from Russia.
A report from the International Energy Agency was released last week and said: “LNG import growth in 2022 was led by Europe with a sharp 63% increase, compensating for a significant drop in pipeline gas imports from Russia.”
Imports of LNG (liquified natural gas) increased by 66 billion cubic metres last winter, with around two-thirds coming from the United States. In 2023, there could be reductions in the use of gas as repair works are due to be completed on French nuclear production.
The EU is also planning to expand its renewable energy sector. In fact, a recent report by Ember and E3G found that renewable energy accounted for a quarter of the EU’s electricity production since March 2022 and replaced 70 billion cubic metres of gas imports.
Going forward, the EU countries will need to agree on how much of a reduction is reasonable. Germany is calling for a target much higher than 15%, while others say that it’s not repeatable. Czech Industry Minister Jozef Sikela warned: “You cannot force basically the households to heat even less. You cannot force the industry to produce less.”
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