The fall in demand for natural gas in the EU in 2022 was the largest in history – minus 13% or 55 billion cubic meters. That would be enough to power 40 million homes. Demand fell the most in northern and northwestern European countries. Analysts from the International Energy Agency (IEA) have summed up winter for the EU. The bulk of the report can be found in RTVI’s material.
Despite a historic drop in demand, EU spending on gas imports approached a record $400 billion, 24% of which went to Russia. Twice as much – 792 billion euros that the EU and the UK have spent to protect citizens and businesses from a sharp rise in prices, writing Bruegel think tank. Accelerating the energy transition requires “something like mobilization in times of war”. “Maybe that’s what we’re starting to see,” Bloomberg notes. Earlier, RTVI calculated the spending of EU countries on the restructuring of the energy system.
How expensive life has become in different EU countries and thanks to which they have avoided a large-scale shutdown of production and mass gatherings – in a special RTVI project with reports from Germany, France , Poland, Serbia and Montenegro.
Finland reduced its demand for natural gas the most (-47%). She less dependent energy carriers of Russia than many others in the EU, since it developed nuclear energy. The Netherlands reduced demand by 22%, Germany – by 15%, Italy and France – by 10% each, Spain – by 4%.
The authorities injected money into renewable energy sources, provided grants and subsidized loans to improve the energy efficiency of housing and install heat pumps, pay my debts Fatih Birol, Executive Director of the IEA, to the governments of EU countries A reliable basis for reducing the demand for gas is the growth of renewable energy sources, the improvement of the energy efficiency of buildings and the installation of heat pumps. Going forward, you shouldn’t rely on warm weather, IEA stresses.
EU companies have reduced their gas consumption by 25%;
EU industry saved 25 billion cubic meters. The most painful year of all was for traditionally gas-intensive industries – fertilizer, steel and aluminum production. Their production fell by an average of 8% “Several factories imported finished products from outside the EU instead of producing them locally at a higher price”, notes the IEA.
Families, businesses and public servants spent 20% less on gasoline;
Households, public and commercial premises used 28 billion cubic meters of gas less than in 2021. Furthermore, the contribution of the improvement in the energy efficiency of buildings is only 12.5% ( 3.5 billion cubic meters); 64% of the savings (18 billion cubic meters) were achieved thanks to the warm weather. Consumers are setting their thermostats lower than usual by about 0.6°C on average.
The EU has introduced a record amount of wind and solar generation
The total capacity of new wind and solar power plants has reached 50 GW, saving 11 billion cubic meters of gas. The installation of 2.8 million heat pumps contributed 2.5% to the overall drop in gas demand (1.4 billion cubic meters). Accelerating the transition to clean energy has enabled the EU to reduce carbon dioxide emissions 100 million tons, or 87% of the global reduction in CO2 emissions in 2022.
Nuclear and hydroelectric production declined
Although the warm fall and early spring saved gas, the weather did not favor Europe at all. Drought and low rainfall in the south have reduced hydropower generation, forcing some countries to do the opposite, increasing their electricity generation from gas.
The problem of energy poverty has worsened
This term refers to the situation of people for whom heating and lighting bills have become unbearable and who are forced to abandon the comfortable use of energy for heating their homes and cooking, or to switch to polluting fuels: wood pellets, coal, waste, fuel oil .
The first winter is over. What will happen next
Europe successfully held the first year of the energy war. But preparing for the next heating season will be more difficult. If in 2022 Russian supplies allowed the filling of gas storage, today the flow has dried up to a minimum after the sabotage of Nord Stream and the shutdown of the Yamal-Europe gas pipeline.
The IEA authorizes a complete halt to Gazprom’s deliveries to the EU. “Then Moscow will lose its last remaining allies, such as Serbia and Hungary, as well as an important trade channel through Turkey,” he added. Remarks Sergey Vakulenko, former head of the Strategy and Innovation department at Gazprom Neft. Another threat to the EU is the risk of reduced liquefied natural gas (LNG) supplies as demand from China increases, recovering from “zero tolerance” for COVID-19. Russia is the fourth LNG exporter with 8% of world volumes. “But most LNG capacity is partly owned by Chinese and Japanese companies, and it will be difficult for Russia to use it for geopolitical purposes,” said Sergei Vakulenko. Europe will continue to increase its supplies from other countries. But there is not much free LNG in the world. New LNG production volumes will only start to be launched mainly at the end of 2024.
“This is a new conflict on an unprecedented scale,” said Sergei Vakulenko. “And just like World War I, it could mean a new era – with new strategies, new disruptive effects and, ultimately, a new world energy order.”
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