Company gas cutoffs likely in Germany during “two hard winters ahead” – grid agency
Companies in certain parts of Germany will likely experience gas cutoffs next winter and the supply crisis is likely to also remain a problem during the 2023/2024 heating season, the head of Germany’s federal network agency BNetzA, Klaus Müller, told website t-online in an interview. Even though the country had reached its first target for gas storage facilities to be 75 percent full by 1 September ahead of schedule, Müller said meeting the next targets (85 percent by 1 October and 95 percent by 1 November) would be much harder. “We are very unlikely to achieve this,” he said with reference to the 95 percent target. While a failure to reach this target would not necessarily lead to a nationwide shortage, regional gas supply bottlenecks are a real possibility, he said. “These restrictions would likely be temporary and might end and flare up again several times,” the BNetzA head said, adding that fast transmission through the country would become important. Depending on the severity of the coming winter, storage levels could drop far enough to also create problems in the following heating season. “We have at least two hard winters ahead of us.”
Regarding the new controversial gas levy of 2.4 cents per kilowatt hour introduced to stabilise struggling gas importers, Müller said this would not mean price hikes are coming to an end. “The gas market has gone wild.” Reduced flows from Russia have so far always caused price rises and most customers would only start feeling the full weight of higher prices in the coming weeks, when energy companies start passing on their costs. “This will hit many households harder than the gas levy,” Müller said. The start of the gas levy on 1 October, the beginning of the heating season, is no coincidence, he explained. “It’s important we talk about this now. It’s the right time to launch saving measures – in winter it will be too late for that.” Gas customers should start preparing their heating systems by optimising efficiency settings and consider how many of their rooms need heating at all. Müller said most people would find it hard to react before they see the higher costs on their gas bill. “That’s why I ask gas companies to inform their customers about the levy and higher prices” and options for reducing consumption, he added.
Gas supply cuts are currently the “main risk” for the German economy, the economy and climate ministry recently warned, as a stable supply from Russia seems increasingly unlikely during the coming heating season. Industry and businesses have also sounded the alarm about how a cut of Russian gas – or rising prices – threatens their competitiveness. Across Europe, rising energy prices have become a key driver of inflation that is only just starting to strain households, particularly low- and mid-income ones.