The European Commission presented this Wednesday three temporary and urgent measures to deal with energy shortages which affects the countries of the European Union. He proposed to save electricity, limit the income of electricity companies and reduce the windfall profits of oil companies.
Ursula von der Leyen, president of the body, announced to the deputies a legislative proposal aimed at promoting a Reduction of energy consumption and one exceptional profits tax companies that use fossil fuels, among other measures.
“Russia continues to actively manipulate our energy market. They prefer to burn the gas they produce rather than deliver it, the market no longer works,” said the President of the European Commission. The possibility of Russia completely cutting off the gas supply to Europe has authorities in the region on their toes, and they have already taken various measures.
The government has ordered that during the winter public buildings can only be heated to a temperature of 19 degrees, with the exception of hospitals and facilities for social use.
Reducing the indoor temperature by one degree Celsius for the 186,000 public buildings which, according to public broadcaster ARD, operate in Germany, will save an average of 6% of the gas used for heating. Night lighting of monuments and buildings will also be regulated.
The decision was also taken to lower the heating of buildings during the winter, by 17 degrees with plus or minus two degrees of tolerance for buildings used for industrial activities, and by 19 degrees with plus or minus two degrees of tolerance for all other buildings. The period during which heaters can be turned on is also reduced by 15 days.
The Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Economic Development (Enea) has also advised reducing the temperature and duration of showers, shortening the duration of ignition of the oven, using dishwashers and fully charged washing machines or to unplug the washing machine when not in use. . With these actions, they calculate that consumption can be reduced by at least 8,200 million cubic meters of natural gas.
In August, the Spanish Congress ratified an energy saving decree that ranges from mandatory temperature limits for air conditioning or heating to turning off lights in public buildings and shop windows. Spain imports most of its gas from the United States and Algeria.
The situation in Spain is different from that of the rest of the countries in the region, as it does not depend on Russian gas. However, the country is experiencing the worst drought in decades, which has limited hydroelectric production and pushed global gas consumption up by 4%.
Switzerland is one of the countries with the lowest energy autonomy in Europe. National electricity production represents only about 25% of its energy needs, while the rest is imported in the form of crude oil, gas and coal.
The Swiss Federal Council has set a voluntary savings target of 15% for the winter semester, for which companies and households have been asked to reduce the temperature of their heating systems. They assure that one degree less would allow gas savings of 5 to 6%.
In the event of a gas shortage, the Government could impose restrictions and bans on certain uses: drop the ambient temperature to 19°C and the water temperature to 60°C. Ultimately, there would be a quota regime that would affect all consumers.
What does the European Union offer?
- Reduce electricity consumption by 10% on average and that this effort “must” include a reduction of at least 5% during peak hours when demand is greatest.
- Tax on extraordinary profits of companies active in the oil, gas, coal and refining sector with an “exceptional and temporary” tax of 33%, applicable to any profit for the year 2022 above 20% of average profits of the last three years
- Limit the price per megawatt/hour to 180 euros on the low production cost energy market for the production of electricity (renewable, nuclear and lignite).
In addition to these three main measures, the community executive will facilitate the deployment of State aid and guarantees for energy companies with “serious” liquidity problems and advances in the design of a gas price index that is “more representative” than the Dutch TTF, currently the reference in Europe and which “has not been adapted” to the current situation.
European Union energy ministers will try to approve this package of measures on September 30.