Germany will limit the use of natural gas to generate electricity and will instead burn more coal, the economy minister said.
Germany’s economy minister says the country will restrict use natural gas Out of concern that reduced supplies from Russia could lead to power shortages.
The move comes after Russia slashed the flow of natural gas in its pipeline to Western Europe, drive energy prices.
“To reduce natural gas consumption, less natural gas must be used to generate electricity. More coal-fired power plants must be used,” Robert Harbeck said in a statement Sunday.
Russian state gas giant Gazprom says the cut in supply through the Nord Stream pipeline is the result of maintenance work, but EU officials believe Moscow is punish allies Ukraine, where Russian troops launched an invasion in February.
Berlin’s temporary use of coal marks a shift from Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s ruling coalition of the Social Democrats, Greens and Liberal Democrats, which has vowed to reduce its coal use by 2030.
“It’s bitter, but essential to reduce gas consumption,” Harbeck said.
The government has insisted that Russian gas will take a while until there are alternatives, such as liquefied natural gas (LNG) by ship.
In the past few months, the German government has taken steps to increase the capacity of gas storage facilities to 90% by November to ensure there is enough gas for heating during European winters.
Habeck said the storage facility, currently at 56.7% capacity, would still be able to make up for the shortage in Russia by buying elsewhere, but he still described the situation as “serious” and said further steps may be needed.
Given the tight supply, the German government recently called on citizens to reduce energy use.
“It is clear, [Russian President] Putin’s strategy is to disrupt us by raising prices and dividing us,” Habeck said. “We won’t let that happen. “
Gazprom said exports to non-former Soviet countries fell 28.9 percent between January 1 and June 15 compared with the same period last year.
After cutting daily gas supplies to Germany and Italy, Gazprom Chief Executive Alexei Miller said last week that Moscow will play by its own rules.
“Our products, our rules. We don’t follow the rules we didn’t make,” he said during a panel discussion at the International Economic Forum in St. Petersburg, Russia’s second-largest city.