Germans prepare for colder apartments, dim streets this winter

Germans prepare for colder apartments, dim streets this winter

climate crisis

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28 minutes ago

From Berlin to small towns, officials and businesses are cutting back on energy use because gas supplies are running low.

From Berlin to small towns, officials and businesses are cutting back on energy use because gas supplies are running low.

The Berlin Senate wants to reduce energy consumption by at least 10%.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

Another heatwave hits Europe, while Germany prepares for a long, cold winter amid a lingering energy crisis partly caused by Russia’s war with Ukraine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has already cut the country’s natural gas supply through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline by 80% and is threatening to completely cut off gas supplies to Germany. Nearly half of all households in Germany use natural gas as their primary means of heating, and until recently Russia accounted for his 55% of the country’s gas imports. Given the lack of infrastructure such as pipelines and his LNG terminal, it is nearly impossible to replace the dwindling supply from Russia with gas from elsewhere in a few months.

That’s why Germans worry about freezing in winter. Some hardware stores are already reporting that they are sold out of electric heaters. “I feel like I’m sleepwalking into a catastrophe,” said Lamia Messari Becker, professor of building technology and building physics at the University of Siegen in western Germany.

The German government is asking citizens, municipalities and industrial consumers to save energy, and its efforts can be seen all over the country.

Berlin has removed the night lighting of the presidential palace, Bellevue Palace and the Reichstag, the parliament building. Officials are debating whether to darken his market for Christmas in the winter, and are discussing ways to keep public buildings such as libraries open and warm. The Berlin Senate, which he wants to reduce energy consumption by at least 10%, has opposed imposing restrictions on neon signs in public spaces.

Hannover, a city of 530,000 people and home to Germany’s largest company, Volkswagen, has lowered the temperature of its public heated pools and supplied hot water to all buildings in the city in order to reduce energy consumption by 15%. I stopped. Some streets have lost their night lighting and public fountains have stopped.

So far, the public has broadly accepted such changes. Hannover’s first city councilor, Axel von der Ohe, told public radio station Deutschlandfunk that “most people understand the measures because the situation is serious, they show solidarity and they are in line.” and we need to take action,” he said.

Even small municipalities are starting to reduce their energy use. The town of Pritzwalk, population 9,000, in the country’s eastern countryside, has adopted LED technology for its streetlights. But Mayor Ronald Thiel said there isn’t much room to move freely in small towns. “In a small municipal energy department like Pritzwerk, there is little potential for savings for mandatory jobs such as schools,” he said. “Savings are more likely with voluntary work such as cultural institutions. But every contribution counts.”

Unlike countries such as Spain, Germany does not make energy conservation measures binding. Behavioral appeals alone are not enough, warned Karen Pittel, director of the IFO Center for Energy, Climate and Resources and professor of economics at the University of Munich. “You can very well imagine such requirements in some areas, such as public buildings, offices, shops and even outdoor lighting,” she said, but for private homes, “the energy Incentives to save would probably work better.”

Germany’s largest real estate group, Vonovia, which owns hundreds of thousands of apartments across the country, plans to gradually turn off heating at night to cut energy use by 8%.

In Germany, natural gas is mainly used for industry (37% of the total), followed by domestic heating (31%). High prices and potential shortages pose a serious threat to the German economy, which relies heavily on manufacturing. New estimates by the International Monetary Fund project slower growth than previously expected, at 1.2% in 2022 and 0.8% in 2023, partly due to the impact of the energy crisis.

German industry is also trying to help achieve an EU-wide plan to reduce gas consumption by 15%. Volkswagen has its own coal- or gas-burning plant at its Wolfsburg factory and has said it will use coal longer than planned. Switching to other energy sources is more difficult for the steel industry. Industry leader ThyssenKrupp has already predicted a temporary drop in production.

Reduced consumption should be compensated by more energy generation, Messari-Becker said. “We can’t do that [preventing a gas shortage in winter] just savings.It should also generate more [energy]For every extra kilowatt-hour we produce, security is created. ” Messari-Becker said there was no short-term alternative to coal. Last month, the German parliament voted in favor of reactive decommissioned coal plants as a temporary measure, despite going against climate change goals.

But some experts say concerted attempts to save on the energy shift need to pay attention to neglected areas of the energy transition, such as environmentally friendly heat supply methods like heat pumps. says.

Economist and climate-neutral production expert Stefan Büttner believes that too few experts know this and that potential users misunderstand the potential. , is harming us.” Stuttgart. While large companies are optimizing processes for efficiency, the same is not true for many small businesses, he said. Here, Büttner said there is pent-up demand.

©2022 Bloomberg LP Germans prepare for colder apartments, dim streets this winter

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