Monday, April 22

Brussels raises air conditioning at 25 degrees and heating at 19 to save gas

The European Commission is preparing a battery of measures in the event of a possible supply cut by Russia

Olatz Hernandez

European nervousness is increasing in the face of a possible gas cut by Russia. Community reserves “are being filled at a good pace”, according to the Economy Commissioner, Paolo Gentiloni, but the EU is still far from being able to completely disconnect from Moscow’s supply. After the gas cut to Bulgaria and Poland, and the reduction of supplies to the Netherlands, Germany and Austria, Brussels’ biggest fear is that Russia unilaterally cuts ties with the Old Continent before winter, which could happen as soon as the next day 21. For this reason, the European Commission plans to start saving energy this summer, with a plan that calls for limiting air conditioning to 25 degrees and heating to 19.

The initiative, which will be formally presented next Wednesday in Brussels, provides for aid to stop the industry and measures for households, and is committed to nuclear and renewable energy. The European proposals revolve around the idea that the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Policy, Josep Borrell, already raised this past March, when he asked the Europeans to lower the heating. “Cut off the gas in your homes, reduce the dependency of those who attack Ukraine,” he claimed during an appearance before the European Parliament.

The increase in energy efficiency is one of the pillars on which the REPowerEU plan is based, whose objective is to reduce Europe’s energy dependence. The Union imports 90% of the gas it consumes and 40% comes from Moscow. However, the Twenty-seven expect to reduce their dependence by two thirds by the end of this year, through the import of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from countries such as the United States and the promotion of renewables. This is the great European asset in the long term.

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In the short and medium term, however, saving energy is essential and Brussels plans to start now, prohibiting the thermostat in public buildings or shopping centers from going below 25 degrees this summer. It also includes the possible auction of gas capacities so that the industry temporarily reduces its production, in what would be the previous step to declaring an energy emergency situation. Currently, a cut by Russia would leave European storage reserves at 65% of their capacity, far from the 80% target set for the start of winter.

Germany was the first Member State to prepare such an emergency plan. With a 60% drop in supply and the threat of further cuts to the Nord Stream I gas pipeline, Berlin activated the second phase of its national emergency plan in June. The country is in energy “alarm” and the German government has raised the surveillance of consumption. In the third phase, it is proposed to ration gas, giving priority to the activity of certain industrial sectors over others.

The instruction from Brussels was released a few hours after the meeting held yesterday in Madrid by the Ministry for the Ecological Transition, the energy companies and the social agents to define the contingency plan with which it is expected to face a complex end of the year, in which supply interruptions, especially gas, may be possible.

Various sources present at that meeting, José María Camarero reports, explained to this newspaper that this action program will involve proposing energy saving and efficiency measures, accelerating gas substitution as much as possible through electrification, and solidarity with other European countries. , where the cuts can be much more damaging than for Spain as it depends directly on Russia.

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The member companies of Aelec (the organization that includes Endesa, Iberdrola and EDP) also contributed savings initiatives and reminded the minister, Teresa Ribera, of the investments made in decarbonisation, which “allow progress in energy independence”.

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