The European Union has surpassed even its own plans to reduce gas consumption. In connection with the refusal of Russian gas in 2022, the European authorities have set an ambitious goal - to reduce consumption by 15% on average in the territory of the political association. However, the EU managed not only to meet, but also to exceed this plan, reducing consumption by 17.7%, writes the Financial Times, citing Eurostat data.
The publication notes that, despite the desire of some experts to link the reduction in consumption with a warm winter in Europe, the real reason for the reduction is the transition to alternative energy sources, and, as a rule, environmentally friendly. Much of the reduction came from energy savings and energy efficiency improvements by businesses, businesses and households.
“It's not just the weather. Energy-intensive enterprises cut production, households saved energy, there was a switch to other fuel sources,” Holger Schmieding, chief economist at the German investment bank Berenberg, explains the success.
His words are confirmed by data from the Federal Network Agency of Germany, according to which households and small businesses reduced gas consumption by about 17.2%, and industry by 18.8%. Consulting company Eurasia Group estimates that the transition to alternative fuels and energy accounted for about 60% of the total reduction in gas consumption, while the rest was distributed approximately equally between the reduction in consumption by businesses and households and, of course, a mild winter.
The representative of the consulting company Hennig Golstein noted in a commentary to the publication that the trend will continue in 2023: the European Union will continue to reduce gas consumption, however, one should not expect such a dramatic decline. According to Eurasia Group estimates, this year the reduction will be in the region of 3-5%, the main reason for the reduction will be the same - the transition to environmentally friendly energy sources as an alternative. At the same time, according to Golstein, businesses and households may refuse some measures to reduce consumption.
The leaders in reducing gas consumption in 2022 were Finland, Lithuania and Sweden. Belgium, Slovenia, Poland, Spain and Slovakia failed to reach the 15% target, while Malta became the only EU country that managed to increase gas consumption by about 14% last year. The reduction in consumption had a positive impact on market prices. If back in August, against the backdrop of a halt in Russian supplies, prices in energy equivalent soared to €343 per MWh, at the peak of the heating season they have already fallen to €75 per MWh, and now they are trading at €40 per MWh. True, prices are still far from the usual level of €15 MWh that was in Europe before the full-scale Russian invasion.
Experts still assess the prospects for the upcoming heating season as positive, since at the beginning of April, European gas storage facilities were filled by 55.7%, which is 20 percentage points higher than the average for the past five years. Some analysts and the Russian state monopoly Gazprom have repeatedly stressed that at the end of the heating season, Europe will not be able to replenish the required volume of gas in storage facilities, but the EU succeeded.