Germany unveils new measures to cut usage of natural gas

Germany on Sunday announced it would reduce gas consumption and store as much natural gas as possible with a new set of measures, including an increased use of coal power plants.

“We will reduce gas consumption in the electricity sector and industry and push the filling of storage facilities. Depending on the situation, we will take further measures,” German Economy and Climate Minister Robert Habeck said in a statement, which outlines a new “set of tools” to face the emergency.

“Security of supply is currently guaranteed, but the situation is serious,” Habeck said. 

The announcement comes as Russia is cutting gas supplies to several EU countries.

Germany will notably use less gas for producing electricity, replacing it with energy produced by coal plants. “That means, to be honest, more coal-fired power plants for a transitional period. That’s bitter, but it’s almost necessary in this situation to reduce gas consumption,” Habeck, from the Greens, noted. Existing coal plants will be upgraded to temporarily compensate the decline of energy production from gas-fired plants.

Other measures include a “gas auction model” to encourage industries to save gas. The scheme — set to be launched this summer — will reward companies that reduce gas consumption in bottleneck situations.

Russia’s Gazprom on Wednesday announced a reduction in gas supplies through the Nord Stream pipeline to 67 million cubic meters per day from 167 million cubic meters a day. Habeck called the move a “political decision.” 

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz was in Kyiv on Thursday alongside France’s Emmanuel Macron and Italy’s Mario Draghi to show support for Ukraine.