As recently as October, a relatively warm autumn and adequate gas reserves gave rise to optimism in Germany. The challenge of making it through the winter without Putin’s gas had seemingly been mastered. But now, the head of Germany’s Federal Network Agency, Klaus Müller, is warning Germans that they need to save considerably more gas in order to meet the season’s challenges. The prospect of continuous freezing temperatures over the coming weeks is also giving rise to concerns.
“Currently we’re saving 13% compared to normal consumption,” Müller told the newspaper Tagesspiegel. That, however, may not be enough. The calculations of the Federal Network Agency indicate that savings of up to 20% may be needed to make the gas reserves last through the winter.
“As long as this remains an outlier, we shouldn’t worry. But the coming days will remain cold. It is therefore important not to slacken with the savings effort, but to remain steadfast throughout the winter,” Müller warned. He also stressed the dangers of prolonged freezing episodes. “Once temperatures fall to -10 degrees Celsius, gas consumption will skyrocket.”
Müller, who had recently calmed fears of an impending blackout scenario, went on to emphasize that Germany is facing a much better situation now compared to the summer. “We are receiving gas from different sources, we will soon have three terminals for LNG gas, from Norway and Holland, and we are also well supplied via Belgium and France.”
When a few weeks ago many Germans opted to buy electrical heaters to alleviate the lack of gas, these purchases gave short rise to concerns for the Federal Network Agency. But Müller was relieved to note that these heaters were not being used. The “stupid and expensive idea to heat with electricity instead of gas” was “luckily not put into practice” by most people. This may, however, still turn into a problem if temperatures drop. While Müller isn’t worried about a potential blackout, the Federal Network Agency is more concerned about the continued problems of French nuclear reactors. While French electricity generated from its nuclear reactors contributed substantially to the stability of the European electrical grid, Germany is now delivering electricity from its coal and gas plants, as well as its three remaining nuclear plants, to France.
The situation thus remains precarious, which has caused the Deputy Chairman of the CDU, Andreas Jung, to demand more awareness of the situation: “This must be a warning signal to the government!” Jung demanded Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz call upon Germans to save more energy. The “self-praise of the chancellor about the secured supply of gas” creates, according to Jung, a “sense of false security.” The CDU politician expressed his worries about the coming weeks: “Frost has not yet hit hard, and yet the savings goal last week was clearly missed.” With temperatures expected to drop significantly within the next week alone, it remains to be seen whether the savings goal will be reached any time soon.