Germany’s gas storage facilities ‘over 90 percent full’

Germany's gas reserves are just over 90 percent full despite supplies from Russia being cut, new data shows.

People stand with umbrellas under grey clouds at the Hamburg Cruise Centre Altona
People stand with umbrellas under grey clouds at the Hamburg Cruise Centre Altona. As Germany moves into autumn, experts are keeping an eye on gas supplies. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Jonas Walzberg

It’s starting to get cooler in Germany as we head into autumn. As many people consider if and when they should put on their central heating, it has emerged that gas storage facilities in Germany are in good shape – even though Russia has suspended gas deliveries through the Nord Stream I pipeline since the end of August. 

Storage facilities reached a fill level of 90.07 percent on Sunday, data shows.

According to German Economy and Climate Minister Robert Habeck, this means that the country has a good chance of getting through winter without gas shortages – despite the lack of Russian supplies.

However, certain conditions must be met for this to happen, Habeck said on Tuesday. He said businesses and people in Germany still have to do their best to cut down on consumption in order to save energy. And he said a lot depends on the weather. 

READ ALSO: When should I turn on my heating in Germany this year?

As The Local reported, last week Klaus Müller – head of the Bundesnetzagentur (Federal Network Agency) – said that a very cold winter in Germany could spark gas shortage issues. 

READ ALSO: Cold winter in Germany could spark gas shortage, warns energy regulator

Müller tweeted on Tuesday: “With 90.07 percent gas storage filling, Germany has reached another milestone. The stored gas increases our security of supply, helps manage gas emergencies and flows back into the market. Still, we need to keep saving (on gas).”

Habeck said that in winter, gas from the storage facilities should be made available. “But that also means that the storage facilities will then be empty again at the end of the winter, in this case really empty,” he said.

In that case, he said Germany will have to quickly fill up reserves again. 

Target for 95 percent full by November

The German government’s next target is to have storage facilities at 95 percent full by early November. This amount of gas is roughly the equivalent of Germany-wide consumption in the first two months of 2022.

The interim targets of 75 percent and 85 percent were reached earlier than planned in mid-August and early September.

READ ALSO: Germany on track to fill gas storage facilities to 85 percent

Gas storage facilities serve as a buffer for the gas market and are intended to compensate for fluctuations in gas consumption.

As a rule, they are well filled at the start of the heating season in autumn. On particularly cold days in winter, up to 60 percent of gas consumption is covered by storage facilities.

To better cope with a potential total loss of Russian supplies in winter, the German government wants to use various measures to achieve the highest possible filling levels at the start of the cold season. Germany currently receives natural gas via pipelines from Norway, the Netherlands and Belgium. At the turn of the year, the first two terminals for landing liquefied natural gas (LNG) are due to go into operation on the German North Sea coast.

According to operators, the EU’s gas storage facilities are on average just under 86 percent full. Throughout the EU, the regulation has been in force since spring for storage facilities to be 80 percent full by November 1st – a goal that was already achieved at the end of August.

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German households see record hikes in heating costs

Heating and electricity prices have risen significantly in Germany this year, according to a report.

German households see record hikes in heating costs

The price of heating with gas has gone up 70 percent so far, according to the Heizspiegel or ‘heat mirror’ report by consulting firm co2online, released Tuesday. Oil and wood heating went up 50 percent.

The report says, however, that almost all households in Germany still have room to cut back on energy and save more.

“Such an increase hasn’t been recorded since we first started publishing the Heizspeigel in 2005,” said co2online Managing Director Tania Loitz.

Assuming a 70 square metre apartment – and many families have larger ones – the Heizspiegel estimates it is now €550 more expensive annually to heat such a flat. It’s around €500 extra for a similar flat heated with oil and €310 for one heated with wood.

The prognosis going into this winter is even worse.

German price comparison website Check24 is estimating that the average family will be on the hook for more the €4,000 a year, up from just over €1,300 in 2021—unless the government comes in with a way to ease prices, or cap them.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: Will Germany set a gas price cap and how would it work?

However, the Heizspiegel also says 90 percent of households in the country haven’t taken advantage of their full savings potential, meaning most have room to save more.

“Most people misjudge their consumption and the impact even the smallest measures can have on cost,” said Loitz.

She recommends regular ventilation, keeping curtains closed at night, and to keep radiators clear, clean, and well-dusted.