Dusseldorf The energy supply in Germany is relaxing. The association of gas storage operators “Initiative Energies Storage” (INES) announced on Tuesday that Germany is expected to get through the rest of winter 2022/2023 well. The association says: “Even at extremely low temperatures and the occurrence of risk factors, there is no gas shortage in Germany.” However, gas must continue to be saved as in the past few months.
INES uses numerous data to regularly model the supply situation for the coming months. Even with reduced imports of liquefied natural gas (so-called LNG) and a complete failure of Russian pipeline gas deliveries in other European countries, it is possible to fill the gas storage tanks again before next winter, the association explained in its January update, the managing director Sebastian Bleschke on introduced Tuesday.
German gas storage facilities are currently around 91 percent full – an unusually high figure in the middle of winter. This is partly due to the exceptionally high temperatures.
Gas storage fill level: Gas consumption in Germany has fallen significantly
However, according to Bleschke, Germany has saved a lot of gas regardless of the weather. According to the association, gas consumption fell by 14 percent compared to 2021. Bleschke compared the gas consumption of December 2022 and February 2022 to make it clear that there were also savings independent of the temperature.
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In February, households and smaller commercial customers consumed very similar amounts of gas as in December: in February it was an average of 1.9 terawatt hours per day and in December 1.8 terawatt hours per day. However, the monthly average temperatures in February were 4.3 degrees, but only 1.8 degrees in December. Despite the significantly colder month, households seem to have heated less.
China as a major LNG importer
Concerns that gas will become scarce or run out completely in Germany will thus be reduced. However, it is unclear how cost-effectively the German gas storage facilities can be refilled before the coming winter. In 2022, the so-called Trading Hub Europe (THE) helped fill the gas storage facilities on behalf of the federal government and paid high prices for the imported gas.
>> Also read: Europe’s imports make LNG scarce and expensive for emerging markets
Since pipeline gas no longer comes from Russia, Germany is heavily dependent on liquefied natural gas, i.e. LNG. But here Germany and Europe are competing with other countries around the world that also want to buy LNG. Of particular importance is China, whose LNG imports in 2022 were lower than usual due to the strict Covid measures. That could change in 2023.
Gas storage: LNG demand affects costs
The International Energy Agency (IEA) takes up this topic in a current report. It states that the global supply of LNG will increase by 23 billion cubic meters in 2023. However, it could be that China will import as much LNG in 2023 as it did in 2021 due to relaxed Covid rules. According to the IEA, the additional Chinese imports could then use up the increase in supply on the global LNG market and thus limit the quantities available for Europe.
If the demand for LNG increases worldwide, it will probably become more expensive to fill the German gas storage facilities for the coming winter.
gas cost per megawatt hour this Tuesday. At the height of the energy crisis it was 340 euros.
At the moment, however, gas prices are comparatively low. On the TTF exchange, they were quoted at EUR 74 per megawatt hour for February on Tuesday. At the height of the energy crisis last year, a megawatt hour cost more than 340 euros at times.
Household gas savings are likely to continue
Prices, in turn, have a significant impact on the energy situation in Germany. The INES association bases its optimistic prospects on the fact that consumption savings will continue. However, according to Bleschke, when market prices fall, gas consumption in gas-fired power plants and industry goes up. On the one hand, this is good for the German economy, which is no longer forced to shut down important industrial processes. On the other hand, more gas is used again.
At least German households should continue to use less gas. On the one hand, because many consumers have changed their heating habits or modernized their heating systems. But also because households do not feel the effects of falling market prices so quickly. The gas price for households is therefore likely to remain very high for a long time.
More: Large electricity consumers should be permanently protected against price risks
First publication: 01/10/2023, 3:03 p.m.