Gas consumption due to freezing cold: is there a risk of heating collapse in Germany?
Created: 12/13/2022, 1:10 p.m
By: Fabian Pieper
Because of the current cold in Germany, gas consumption is increasing rapidly.
© Michael Buholzer/dpa
The coldest week of the year so far with permafrost throughout Germany is driving up gas consumption.
Could there be a gas shortage?
Berlin – In mid-December 2022, the thermometer only rarely climbed above the ominous zero-degree Celsius line in only a few places.
It's cold in Germany, the notorious polar whip has hit hard.
At night, the temperatures even scratch double-digit minus degrees.
No wonder, then, that many private households, companies and industry are currently turning up their heating.
They should take up the fight against the freezing cold indoors.
But this winter everything is different: Due to the Ukraine war, the federal government no longer purchases gas from Russia, the country's most important gas supplier.
Instead, Germany imports gas from the Netherlands, Norway and Belgium, for example, and started the winter with gas storage tanks almost full to the brim.
Nevertheless, the appeals from politicians are that everyone should continue to save energy as much as possible so that there are no shortages over the course of the winter.
A scenario that many fear.
Is there a threat of a heating blackout in the middle of the crisis winter in this country, asks
Gas shortages in winter possible in Germany
For this purpose, the Science Media Center Germany (SMC) together with the
NDR and the Initiative Save Energy (Ines) dealt with various possible scenarios.
Many parameters that are decisive for the coming months flow into it: the initial storage levels of the gas storage facilities, the energy savings of private households and industry, the winter temperatures and access to gas supplies, for example with the commissioning of the new liquid gas terminals in Germany.
The good news: The probability of a gas shortage in Germany this winter is low.
The bad news: it's not zero.
If, according to a report by the NDR, consumption does not at least move in the direction of the targeted savings of 20 percent compared to the average of previous years, gas could become scarce by spring.
According to the NDR, private households and industry in Germany saved around 13 percent gas in the week from November 28 to December 4, 2022 compared to the years 2018 to 2021;
but as early as September 2022, which was colder than average on average, energy consumption was also above average - despite appeals to save.
Gas storage could become empty – is there a risk of heating collapse?
So if December 2022 - it could be the coldest December in many years - should be significantly colder than average, gas consumption would possibly also be very high, since a large part of the gas in Germany is used for heating.
It is not yet clear how the following winter will develop.
In the most pessimistic assumption, the gas storage facilities could be empty in spring - if no gas is saved despite cold temperatures.
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However, this is the worst scenario.
Ines Managing Director Sebastian Bleschke also classifies the situation accordingly: "As long as the temperatures don't get extreme, we'll get through the winter well," he explained to the
However, he added that there must be a sufficient level of LNG imports.
Consistent gas savings can prevent horror scenarios
However, should the winter become even milder and perhaps even significantly too mild, Germany could even get through the winter without any savings and without running the risk of the storage tanks being empty.
And if private households and industry manage to reach the 20 percent target, according to the NDR there is no longer any risk of a gas shortage - possible scenarios such as attacks and sabotage of the energy supply are not taken into account.
However, the gas storage tanks are then largely empty at the end of the heating period and first have to recover.
Nevertheless, Klaus Müller, President of the Federal Network Agency, warned in the Tagesspiegel
on Monday, December 12, 2022
that it was "important that we don't let up on our savings efforts and hold out through the whole winter".
He thinks savings of 20 percent are necessary;
they are currently around 13 percent.
Fortunately, it is not that difficult to save on heating costs, as our tips show.