Germany’s gas shortage looms as households consume more energy than usual

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  • Germany’s grid regulator has warned citizens are using too much gas and need to cut back.
  • In a colder climate, gas consumption was 14.5% above average compared to 2018-2021, according to data from the Federal Network Agency.
  • The German government, however, has also proposed a gas price cap, which could incentivize greater energy consumption.

Germans consume too much natural gas and need to reduce their consumption to avoid a shortage this winter, according to the German Federal Network Agency. But that could be difficult to achieve with the government proposing a price cap that could make gas use more affordable.

In a colder climate, total gas consumption last week was 14.5% higher than the 2018-21 average, agency data showed Thursday. Klaus Müller, chairman of the Federal Network Agency, called the figures “very worrying”.

“Without significant savings in the private sector as well, it will be difficult to avoid a winter gas shortage,” he said in a statement on Thursday.

To avoid a gas shortage, a reduction of at least 20% in consumption is necessary, estimated the regulator. Consumption habits can change quickly, and “savings also have to be made when temperatures continue to drop and that’s not a surefire success,” Müller said.

The warning came as Germany continued to store gas, with storage levels at 91.5% capacity. Russia’s weaponization of energy through the Nord Stream pipeline cuts, among other things, has forced Europeans to scramble to get enough supplies to get through the winter.

Meanwhile, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced on Thursday that there will be a cap on natural gas prices, saying prices for consumers must come down.

But it could make it harder for households to save gas, as lower prices incentivize more energy use.

The German government will also provide funding of up to €200 billion for an “economic difference shield”.

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