The era of cheap energy from Russia is over, says head of German utility regulator
Germany has managed to avoid an energy crisis this year, but there is a risk that the next heating season will be more difficult, Klaus Mueller, the head of the German Federal Network Agency, said in an interview with the Rheinische. Post, published Saturday.
According to Mueller, the country’s gas storage facilities are currently 64% full, and even though it will be cold in the coming weeks, Germany’s energy supply for the rest of the heating season is assured. However, he warned thatwe must not slack off, because things could be different next winter.
“We cannot rule out a gas shortage for next winter. The risk factors are that the winter of 2023/24 will be very cold, that households and businesses will save too little, that the LNG terminals will not operate as planned – we would also have to help our neighboring countries with their energy problems,Muller explained. Germany has largely been able to avoid power shortages due to unusually warm weather over the past two months, but Mueller noted that when it comes to the upcoming heating season, the weather poses the biggest risk.
“We cannot count on the fact that next winter will be mild again. When it’s cold, many households immediately stop saving. In hot October, they saved more than 20% in gasoline, while during the December cold snap – only 7%.”
The official also pointed to another risk factor – the lack of energy supplies from Russia, which allowed the country to fill storage tanks in anticipation of last year’s heating season. Although the EU has not banned pipeline gas imports from Russia, their flows have decreased significantly after the Ukraine-related sanctions and following the sabotage that disabled the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline, the one of the main routes for transporting Russian gas to Europe. As a result, Germany no longer receives Russian gas directly and, according to Mueller, energy prices will no longer be as low as they were then.
“We don’t know what will happen to Russia’s remaining gas supplies… We have to get used to higher prices, the days of cheap energy from Russia are definitely over. he stated.
Gasoline prices have been relatively low throughout the winter, helped by lower demand due to mild weather. Wholesale gas prices, which had soared to more than €300 per megawatt hour at the end of last summer, fell to a level of around €50 in March. Although this is far more than what natural gas cost at the start of 2021, it is “the new normal,said Mueller, noting that to avoid further price spikes, consumers should continue their efforts to conserve energy.
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