Sunday, August 7, 2022

Cities are getting dark and showers cold in the EU, but ‘energy sobriety’ won’t work in the UK this winter

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EU citizens are being urged to cut heating to build up gas reserves, but experts say that approach will not do in the UK

European governments are hoping to conserve energy ahead of winter by encouraging their populace to take colder showers and turn off their Wi-Fi to top up storage reserves, but such measures are unlikely to make much of a difference in the UK.

Germany, Austria and France are looking at ways to reduce consumption ahead of the peak winter heating season, including limiting street lighting for shops and setting a recommended 26°C temperature for air conditioning.

In mainland Europe, the pressure for a concerted effort to reduce energy consumption comes as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues to push up oil and gas prices and trigger a cost-of-living crisis.

The EU told member states last week they must cut gas consumption by 15 percent over the next eight months as the bloc seeks to build storage reserves ahead of winter amid fears that Russia could cut gas supplies in the short term, punishing European leaders for doing so that they have taken action against Ukraine.

But such energy measures would make little difference in the UK, which depends on Russia for just 4% of its gas supplies, compared to 39% in the EU. In addition, the UK has relatively little storage capacity compared to other major economies in Europe. The maximum capacity is 1.6 billion cubic meters (bcm), while Germany has the largest at 26bcm.

“If all sites were to withdraw at their maximum rate, they could be emptied in weeks rather than months,” said Thomas Rodgers, European gas analyst at Independent Chemical and Energy Market Intelligence (ICIS).

However, Mr Rodgers said that looking at gas storage in isolation “does not do justice to how the UK meets winter demand”.

He pointed to the two pipelines with mainland Europe “effectively allowing us to shift excess gas from the UK to European storage in the summer and then bring those volumes back in the winter when needed”.

He continued: “The UK also has the benefit of three LNG (liquefied natural gas) terminals – Germany has none.

“The UK also still has significant but reduced volumes from the North Sea and has multiple opportunities to import gas from Norway.”

Storage in the UK could also pick up this winter with the potential reopening of a gas storage facility off the east coast of England.

British Gas owner Centrica said it is in talks with the government and is undertaking the necessary engineering work to allow its Rough site to reopen in the North Sea. The Rough site previously provided about 70 per cent of Britain’s gas storage capacity for 30 years before closing in 2017 after the government refused to subsidize costly repairs.

Here are some examples of how Europeans are being asked to comply with so-called energy sobriety:

German Vice Chancellor and Economy Minister Robert Habeck said he had reduced his shower time “significantly” and encouraged others to do the same to save energy.

“I’ve never showered for five minutes in my life,” he said The mirror.

As part of the federal government’s energy-saving measures, heated swimming pools in private households will be banned this winter and heating will be restricted.

Vonovia, one of Germany’s largest housing providers, which owns around 490,000 apartments in the country, will reduce the heating for many of its tenants to 17C between 11pm and 6am, the company announced this month.

The reduced heating timetable will be rolled out in the coming months and fully introduced by the beginning of autumn, with the aim of saving up to eight percent on heating costs.

Cities like Nuremberg and Augsburg have stopped lighting historic buildings and dim streetlights at night.

Oldenburg’s Lord Mayor Jürgen Krogmann has presented a 30-point energy-saving plan that envisages turning off the hot water in public buildings during the summer holidays, which would lead to colder showers in sports facilities, for example.

“Better a cold shower in the summer than a cold apartment in the winter,” he said mirror.

The French government asked its population to turn off the lights, disconnect the WiFi and turn down the air conditioning. The local reported in France.

“Every bit of energy that we can save together now is energy that we can safely use in the autumn or winter,” said government spokesman Olivier Veran.

“When you go for the weekend or vacation, unplug as many plugs as possible because if you don’t, they (appliances) continue to use energy. In particular, you should unplug your WiFi.”

Additional measures in France include a ban on illuminated advertising at night in train stations and airports, while shops are not allowed to open their doors while the air conditioning or heating is on.

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