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EU gas contingency plan: how states should save gas



Status: 07/20/2022 3:39 p.m.

Market instruments and temperature regulation in public buildings: In anticipation of a possible gas crisis, the European Commission today presented its gas emergency plan. An overview.

By Till Bücker, tagesschau.de

Concerned about a possible gas shortage in autumn or winter, the European Commission has officially proposed its European gas emergency plan to reduce gas demand. It contains a number of measures that could be used to react to a complete halt in supplies from Russia to the European Union. Commission President Ursula von der Leyen thinks such a scenario is likely. “We have to be prepared for a possible total disruption of Russian gas supply,” the German politician told a press conference in Brussels today. Twelve Member States are already not supplied with gas at all or only to a limited extent.

National plans updated by end of September

However, preventive gas savings can cushion the consequences of a possible stoppage of deliveries, according to Vice President Frans Timmermans. “We can reduce potential GDP losses if we make preemptive cuts now.” In addition to expanding gas supplies from other countries and developing renewable energies, the European Commission is therefore focusing on a significant reduction in gas consumption.

In the event of a gas emergency, EU states should even be able to be forced to save gas. More specifically, the Brussels authority suggested that binding reduction targets should be possible if there are not enough savings. But first, countries should voluntarily do all they can to reduce their consumption from August to the end of March by 15% compared to the average of the previous five years.

Member States are invited to update their national contingency plans by the end of September. The aim is to protect the supply of households and large consumers such as hospitals, but also industries that are particularly important for supply chains and competitiveness in the EU. Governments must report every two months on progress made and how they plan to achieve the goal. To help them do this, the Commission recommends that countries adopt measures, principles and criteria for coordinated demand reduction.

Businesses should save gas and change

A number of details were already known in advance. The main focus is on industrial consumers. According to this, the European project rests on three pillars. The first is to switch from gas to alternative fuels in industry and in the electricity and heat sectors to minimize constraints.

The second pillar concerns the reduction of consumption in the economy using market instruments. For example, member states could introduce auction or bidding systems to incentivize companies to go gas-free with financial incentives, the report says. The European Commission thus follows the ideas of the federal government.

“Interruptible contracts”, which allow gas suppliers to stop supply under certain conditions in exchange for a price reduction, and contractual exchange agreements between industrial customers to carry out production in less affected regions should also create more flexibility. Thanks to state aid, companies could be promoted at national level when they turn to other energy sources.

The European Commission is preparing an emergency plan to save gas

Markus Preiß, ARD Brussels, daily newspaper at 3:00 p.m., July 20, 2022

“Do we have to set the air conditioning to 20 degrees?”

The third pillar concerns consumers and savings in heating and cooling. In addition to national public awareness campaigns, the European Commission is calling for a mandatory reduction in gas consumption in public buildings. A targeted reduction in the heating and cooling capacity of shopping centers and offices is also possible. In addition, Member States must set new temperature and time threshold values ​​for gas heating in households. However, the authority left open the height of these.

A draft plan also stipulated that public buildings, offices and commercial buildings should be heated to a maximum of 19 degrees and cooled to at least 25 degrees with air conditioning. These specifications are no longer included in the proposals now presented.

Timmermans pointed out that citizens can also participate in efforts on their own. “Do we have to set the air conditioning to 20 degrees?” Setting them a little higher can mean less comfort. At the same time, however, it could help reduce gas consumption significantly. “If we act now, we can decide how we act and keep our destiny in our hands,” the Commission vice-president said.

Rules for a possible extinguishment order?

In the worst-case scenario where individual customers have to shut off the gas or have to switch off completely, the European Commission wants to provide governments with guidelines for prioritizing sectors. She couldn’t be more specific today. Under the previous draft, states would have to decide in advance the order in which they would force the industry to shut down in the event of a supply shortage.

The order must take into account the importance of a facility and the impact of its closure on supply chains. In general, there are already uniform rules in the EU in the event of a gas emergency, which are anchored in the so-called SoS regulation. This regulates, for example, which customers still need to be supplied with gas in an emergency. Households and essential social services receive special treatment as “protected consumers”.

In the draft gas emergency plan, the European Commission once again underlined that households are “protected customers” under EU law. This means that they would be the last to be affected by gas rationing. However, if power generation is threatened, countries could switch power plant supply to gas through certain protected consumers, he said.

Vote next Tuesday

In Germany, the Federal Network Agency is already preparing criteria for the eventuality that shutdowns are necessary due to a gas shortage – based on the German gas emergency plan. Federal Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) had already made it clear that in the event of a gas shortage, all consumers should contribute to saving energy. Exactly how this will be implemented is not yet clear.

However, it remains to be seen in the coming days whether the European Commission’s plan will soon become a reality. EU states have yet to approve the project. From Friday, diplomats from EU countries are due to discuss the proposal – with the aim of energy ministers approving the plans at a special meeting on July 26.

The big nail biter about the gas

Constantin Röse, HR, July 20, 2022 3:50 p.m.


Source www.tagesschau.de

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