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ENERGY

German residents urged to save more gas despite cold weather

Germany's top energy regulator on Thursday issued an urgent warning to consumers to save more gas regardless of chilly weather as figures showed above-average usage, despite repeated pleas for restraint.

People walk near the North Sea in Westerland, Sylt on September 28th. Temperatures have dropped in Germany.
People walk near the North Sea in Westerland, Sylt on September 28th. Temperatures have dropped in Germany. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Frank Molter

“Without significant reductions, including in private households, it will be difficult to avoid a gas shortage this winter,” Federal Network Agency (BNetzA) head Klaus Müller said in a statement.

Figures from the agency published on Thursday showed consumption of 483 gigawatt hours (GWh) for the week beginning September 19th, well above the average of 422 GWh for 2018 to 2021.

“Although the week was significantly colder than the same week in previous years, the savings required to avoid a gas shortage must be achieved regardless of temperatures,” the agency said.

A reduction of at least 20 percent would be needed to avoid shortages, it added.

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Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has led to an acute energy crisis in Germany, with Moscow increasingly squeezing gas supplies.

Europe’s biggest economy was previously heavily dependent on Russian gas and has been scrambling to secure supplies from elsewhere.

BNetzA on Thursday said Germany’s gas storage facilities were 91.5 percent full heading into the winter but more savings were still necessary.

“Gas must be saved, even if it gets even colder towards winter. This will depend on each and every one of us,” Müller said.

The German government has repeatedly called on consumers to save energy amid the turmoil caused by the war in Ukraine.

Vonovia, the country’s largest property group, plans to limit the temperature in its 350,000 homes to 17C at night.

Germany’s Bundestag lower house of parliament is also planning to turn off the hot water in its offices and keep the air temperature no higher than 20C this winter.

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ENERGY

Norway and Germany seek Nato-led cooperation for key undersea structures

Germany and Norway want to start a NATO-led alliance to protect critical underwater infrastructure, their leaders said on Wednesday, weeks after explosions hit two key gas pipelines in the fallout from the war in Ukraine.

Norway and Germany seek Nato-led cooperation for key undersea structures

 “We are in the process of asking the NATO Secretary General to set up a coordination office for the protection of underwater infrastructure,” German Chancellor Olaf Scholz told a press conference in Berlin.

“We take the protection of our critical infrastructure very seriously and nobody should believe that attacks will remain without consequences,” he said.

Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store said the alliance would be “an informal initiative to exchange between civilian and also military actors” with NATO providing “a centre, a coordination point”.

Underwater cables and pipelines were “arteries of the modern economy” and it was necessary to create “a coordinated joint effort to ensure security for this infrastructure”, he said.

Scholz said he and Store would propose the plan to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, who is due in Berlin for a security conference. The Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines off the Danish island of Bornholm were targeted by two huge explosions at the end of September.

The pipelines, which connect Russia to Germany, had been at the centre of geopolitical tensions as Moscow cut gas supplies to Europe in suspected
retaliation to Western sanctions over the invasion of Ukraine.

Although they were not in operation when the leaks occurred, they both still contained gas which spewed up through the water and into the atmosphere.

Russia and Western countries, particularly the United States, have traded bitter barbs over who is responsible for the blasts.

Several European countries have since taken steps to increase security around critical infrastructure. 

The G7 interior ministers warned earlier this month at a meeting in Germany that the Nord Stream explosions had highlighted “the need to better protect our critical infrastructure”.

Norway has become Europe’s main gas supplier in the wake of the war in Ukraine, taking the place of Russia.

The Scandinavian country has a vast network of pipelines, stretching for almost 9,000 kilometres, linking it to the continent, which experts have said are at risk of sabotage.

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