Europe Makes Plans To Ration Natural Gas As It Switches Back To Coal

by | Jun 21, 2022 | Headline News

The Netherlands and Denmark triggered emergency energy plans on Monday as Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Austria signaled a shift to coal as an emergency fuel as plans to ration natural gas are being put together. This is in response to Russia cutting off half of the natural gas supplies to Europe.

Citing an equipment hold-up in Canada as a result of sanctions over the Ukraine war, Russia’s state gas giant Gazprom cut natural-gas supplies via the Nord Stream pipeline to Germany, according to a report by Business Insider. 

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German economy minister Robert Habeck and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi said last week Gazprom’s move was politically motivated, but Moscow insists it’s technical. “We have gas, it is ready to be delivered, but the Europeans must give back the equipment, which should be repaired under their obligations,” said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Monday, Reuters reported.

The European Union relies on Russia for roughly 40% of its natural gas and, despite lining up a ban on imports of oil and coal, it has not made any decisions to limit gas purchases. But they are admitting to being in “emergency mode” for the upcoming winter.

Denmark’s energy agency said in a press release that if the situation escalates, natural gas would be rationed and limited to some industrial users so consumers could have winter heating. In the Netherlands, authorities will plan for and alert the public if gas supplies get tight, although it was not clear how gas would be rationed in the event of a real shortage, Reuters reported. Germany and Austria have already triggered emergency plans that could eventually lead to gas rationing while Italy is considering declaring a state of alert on energy after Russia’s deliveries to energy giant Eni fell short of what it had requested for a sixth day on Monday, citing two government sources. Under a state of alert, Italy could start rationing gas to industrial users.

On Monday, Germany, Austria, and the Netherlands indicated coal-generated power could help them weather an energy crisis this coming winter. It is also at odds with their commitment to cut back on the use of coal — the most carbon-intensive fossil fuel — and most European countries’ plans to phase out coal-fired plants by 2030.Business Insider

Europe’s in the middle of a summer heatwave now, driving up natural-gas demand for cooling systems while supplies are limited. That means costs are going to skyrocket even if more natural gas is made available to Europeans. Russia’s decision to choke off supply to Europe raises questions about how the region can prepare for the crucial winter months when consumption is far higher than it is now.

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