Germany optimistic on energy security; The Baltic countries count on the wind | National policy

By FRANK JORDANS, BARBARA SURK and JAN M. OLSEN – Associated Press

BERLIN (AP) – Germany is well prepared to deal with a possible energy shortage due to Russia’s pressure on European gas suppliesChancellor Olaf Scholz said on Tuesday, even as fears grow over rising prices will hit consumers across the continent this winter.

He spoke at the start of a two-day government retreat, also attended by Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, which focused on the impact that The Russian invasion of Ukraine has had on Europe’s energy supply.

Scholz cited Germany’s decisions to reactivate oil and coal-fired power plants, mandate the filling of natural gas storage facilities and lease floating liquefied natural gas terminals. A decision on extending the lifetime of the three remaining German nuclear power plants is also expected soon.

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“All this and many other measures have put us in a much better position with regard to security of supply than could have been expected a few months ago,” Scholz told reporters at the government guest house in Meseberg, north of Berlin.

“We will be able to cope quite well with the threats we face from Russia, which is using gas as part of its strategy in the war against Ukraine,” he said.

Scholz noted that gas storage facilities are already more than 80% full, more than they were at this time last year, and the government is expected to agree further measures soon to help German consumers. to cope with the sharp increase energy price.

Russian state-controlled energy company Gazprom has further cut gas supplies to French firm Engie, raising fears that Moscow could cut gas completely as political leverage over the war in Ukraine.

Gazprom informed Engie of a reduction in gas deliveries, from Tuesday, due to “a disagreement between the parties on the application of several contracts”, according to the French energy company. Deliveries for Engie from Gazprom have fallen significantly since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, with a recent monthly supply of 1.5 TWh, which compares to Engie’s total annual supplies in Europe of over 400 TWh. , the company said.

Engie had already obtained enough gas to meet its commitments to its customers, the statement said, adding that it had also put in place measures to “significantly reduce any direct financial and physical impact” that could result from the interruption of the gas. gas supply from Gazprom.

Russia has cut off or reduced natural gas to a dozen countries in the European Union. Since the spring, EU leaders have been calling on the public to use less gas in the summer to build storage for the winter. The bloc has proposed that nations voluntarily reduce their use by 15%. He is also seeking the power to impose mandatory cuts in the 27-nation bloc if there is a risk of severe gas shortages.

France, like other European countries, is trying to strengthen its gas reserves for the winter and fill its stocks by the beginning of autumn to avoid an economic and political crisis on energy. In June, the French government launched an “energy sobriety” plan, aiming for a 10% reduction in energy consumption by 2024.

On Monday, French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne urged businesses to draw up energy saving plans, warning businesses would be the first to be hit if the government were forced to ration gas and electricity due to severe shortages.

In an effort to wean themselves off Russian gas and reduce the climate impact of the energy sector, European countries have dramatically stepped up their efforts to build wind, solar and other renewables.

Seven Baltic Sea countries – Finland, Sweden, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Denmark – on Tuesday announced a sevenfold increase in wind power generation by 2030 in southern Europe. North in order to free the region from its dependence on Russian natural gas.

The countries agree to set combined targets for offshore wind in the Baltic Sea region of at least 19.6 GW by 2030. Current capacity in the Baltic Sea region is currently less than 3 gigawatts. According to the plan, up to 1,700 new offshore wind turbines would produce the equivalent power of nearly 20 nuclear power plants, providing enough electricity for up to 30 million homes.

“(Russian President Vladimir) Putin is using energy as a weapon and has brought Europe to the brink of an energy crisis with soaring prices,” Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said.

Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas said the new plan will also allow countries “to have more affordable energy prices”, while his Latvian counterpart, Arturs Krisjanis Karins, said “it can be done if we work together”.

“It’s amazing. Up to 20 gigawatts by 2030,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said at the one-day Baltic Sea Energy Security Summit in Copenhagen. “This is already a third of the EU’s overall ambition for offshore wind capacity by 2030.”

The energy crisis has prompted some European countries to call for the relaunch of previously abandoned energy projects, such as a gas pipeline linking the Iberian Peninsula to the rest of Europe.

Barbara Surk reported from Nice, France, and Jan M. Olsen from Copenhagen, Denmark. Geir Moulson contributed from Berlin.

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