European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the EU’s gas supply was “secure this winter”, but there was a danger for the next heating season.
At a joint press conference on Monday with Fatih Birol, the head of the International Energy Agency (IEA), von der Leyen said the EU could face a shortfall of up to 30 billion cubic meters of gas next year, based on the findings of an IEA. report entitled: “How Europe can avoid gas shortages in 2023”, which calls for increased efforts to improve energy efficiency and deploy renewable energies.
Many EU countries want the bloc to cap the price of imported natural gas – in a bid to prevent a repeat of the price spikes this summer that sent markets into turmoil. It will be a key part of Tuesday’s Emergency Energy Council, but there are deep divisions over the measure.
A dozen countries want the trigger to be set lower than the level proposed by the Commission last month, but skeptical countries fear such a move could scare off gas importers and also destabilize financial markets – a shared concern by the European Central Bank.
The Commission President said energy ministers needed to find a political agreement on the “scope” of the gas price cap and the “threshold” at which it would be triggered, adding that the cap’s impact on demand gas, gas supply and financial stability also had to be taken into account.
“I really hope that we will reach a conclusion in the next few days,” von der Leyen said.
The impasse over the price cap overshadows other elements of the RepowerEU plan to wean the bloc off its reliance on Russian energy — like banding together to buy gas and boost the uptake of renewables.
These are the kinds of moves that have helped save the EU from “Russian energy blackmail” this year, von der Leyen said.
“We are now focusing on preparing [for] 2023, and next winter,” von der Leyen said. “To do this, Europe needs to step up its efforts in several areas, from raising international awareness and jointly purchasing gas, to scaling and accelerating renewable energy, and reducing demand. .
What makes next year more difficult is that Russian gas exports, which have fallen sharply but continue to flow to the EU, risk being completely halted.
“Many of the circumstances that allowed EU countries to fill their storage sites before this winter may well not happen again in 2023,” Birol said. He added that an economic recovery in China could also make it more difficult for the EU to purchase crucial liquefied natural gas.
This is why the bloc should speed up the authorization of renewable energy projects, promote heat pumps and encourage people to reduce gas demand, Birol said, adding that such measures are “vital to avoid the risk of shortages and further price spikes next year.”