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Germany is a leader in Europe energy saving campaign

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Across Europe, countries are looking for ways to cut energy consumption and fill up their gas reserves.

Berlin:

Summer nights are extremely dark and quiet this year in the affluent Bavarian city of Augsburg: the facades of historic buildings are not illuminated, street lights are dim and most fountains are not working.

Augsburg is one of several cities around Germany that have initiated a raft of energy-saving measures since the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which raised oil and gas prices and led to a cost of living crisis. .

Across Europe, countries are looking for ways to cut energy consumption and fill their gas stores in response to less Russian gas distribution and preparation for potential total cut-offs.

Germany, as one of the countries most dependent on Russian gas, is leading the charge with a nationwide campaign to save gas so that Europe’s biggest economy has enough to get it through the winter. However, energy experts say that additional measures are needed to get the energy. Security.

Augsburg Mayor Eva Weber told Reuters the city’s energy bill this year is expected to nearly double from last year’s cost of around 15.9 million euros.

“We want to show the citizens of Augsburg that we can face really tough times… we all really need to save energy,” Weber said.

The city has also lowered the temperature in its public pools and is investigating which traffic lights it can turn off. Like other cities, it seeks to limit heating in public buildings.

About half of German households rely on gas for their heating and about 13% of their electricity comes from fossil fuels. Gas also accounts for a third of the industry’s energy. Half of that gas has come from Russia in recent years.

Germany’s economy ministry is seeking to fill its gas caves before winter, when demand typically rises so that it can meet those as well as new alternative gas sources such as floating liquefied natural gas terminals.

The government says any gas it saves now can help it reach its goal, which is why it’s revamping coal-fired power plants and aims to help industrial consumers save gas. To encourage, the gas auction model is to be introduced.

The economy ministry also launched a campaign last month urging citizens to take fewer showers, raise the temperature of their fridge by 1 degree and better insulate their home.

Green announced more binding measures on Thursday, including a ban on heating swimming pools in private homes.

Up to ten times increase in prices

Thorsten Lenk at the think tank Agora Energywende said the up to ten-fold increase in prices for new consumers has already encouraged energy savings. Those who are still on the old one or two year contract haven’t felt the pain yet.

Private landlords worry about exorbitant year-end bills for additional energy costs facing tenants that they may not be able to pay. As such, Vonovia, Germany’s largest residential landlord, has said it will reduce heating for tenants in many of its apartments at night.

“We’re on our way to saving enough energy, but we’re still not there,” Lenk said.

Adjusted for temperature differences, gas consumption was 6.4% lower in the first five months of the year, and 10.8% lower in May, according to Germany’s electricity industry association BDEW.

The European Union told member states on Wednesday that they need to cut gas use by 15% by March.

But it is an average – Germany needs to cut its use by 30% given its gas dependence, said Simone Taglipietra, senior partner at think-tank Bruegel.

“Politicians don’t like to ask people to make sacrifices and they postponed it because they still wanted to believe that Russia can’t play too much with gas,” he said. “But they have to do it now… otherwise Europe will just have to shut down factories because they can’t give gas to families.”

preparing for the worst case

Germany’s emergency plan prioritizes gas for critical institutions such as homes and hospitals, while industry will be the first to face rations.

Nonetheless, across Germany, panicked citizens in reaction to rising prices are stocking up on wood for fireplaces or electric heaters and preparing for the worst in winter when temperatures can drop to -20 degrees.

“The demand for wood has gone up 100%,” said Oleja Breuer. “Our delivery time has gone from two weeks to two months”.

DIY-store chain Hornbach, which has 98 stores in Germany, said sales of a variety of fuels and heaters as well as isolation materials and solar modules began last November and again after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. .

“This was driven first by rising energy prices … and customers’ autonomy and willingness to be prepared for emergencies,” said spokesman Florian Preuss, noting that consumers in other European markets are not behaving the same way. Were were

Some cities are planning to open hot spots where either the homeless or those who can’t afford heating can escape the cold.

“We have an energy crisis that needs to be resolved as a society,” said Augsburg resident Christoph Klein-Veneket. “And if (dealing with) it’s about irrelevant things like lighting up buildings, we can easily manage that.”

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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