The European Commission will propose to the EU governments to extend for another year the voluntary reduction in gas consumption of 15% that it agreed to in 2022 in response to the energy crisis, a policy that “has worked well” but that would end in March of this year. year if not renewed.
“I will propose to the Member States to prolong the voluntary reduction in demand by 15% until next year. It has worked well and it is the best guarantee to reach an adequate level of storage by November”, assured this Thursday the Commissioner for Energy, Kadri Simson, before the Commission for Industry and Energy of the European Parliament.
According to the data provided by Simson to the MEPs of this parliamentary committee, the reduction in demand until January fell by 19%, four points above the target two months before its expiration, which has saved 42,000 million cubic meters of gas (bcm).
Estonia celebrated that the change that the EU has achieved in its energy system after the start of the Russian aggression against Ukraine has been “spectacular”, but warned of the need to “have no illusions that things are getting easy” because “This year will be difficult” and “many uncertainties” continue to exist.
Along these lines, the commissioner also asked European governments to stop buying liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Moscow in order to get rid of the 20 bcm that the block imported last year “as soon as possible.”
“Committing not to renew current contracts with Russia is the best way to give long-term assurances to our trusted partners that our significant demand will continue to exist,” Simson argued.
The third point that the head of Energy of the Community Executive wanted to highlight in the coming months is the need to continue accelerating the deployment of renewables, since Europe “will win the energy war when it has finally complied” in this area.
In this sense, he demanded that Member States and the European Parliament conclude the review of the renewable energy directive before the end of this month, called for exploiting the “full potential” of biomethane and heat pumps and urged speeding up the construction of large-scale marine projects.
Within this point, Simson assured that the electricity market reform that the European Commission plans to present next Thursday, March 16, will give incentives to production through renewable energies.
“We need a reform that brings prices down and protects consumers, but also strengthens incentives for new investment in renewables,” he explained.
The executive director of the International Energy Agency (IEA), Fatih Birol, also spoke before the Industry and Energy Committee of the European Parliament, insisting on the messages he has conveyed on his visits to the European capital in recent months.
Thus, he congratulated the EU for everything achieved this year, but also warned that “next winter may be more complicated than the previous one” and that is why Europe “must not be relaxed” and must continue to act to guarantee its security of supply .
He also warned that the EU will not return to a scenario of energy as cheap as before the war, which will put its industry at a disadvantage compared to its competitors, especially companies from the United States and China, which are face higher energy costs.
“Europe has to be part of the manufacturing of clean technologies,” Birol said, before recommending to the bloc an analysis of “the entire supply chain” to detect in which area it can be competitive and what economic and energy policies it has to prioritize.