Although Russia cut off most gas supplies in the months following its invasion of Ukraine, constricting supply and sparking record-high prices, Europe is emerging from winter with a more reliable energy supply than was predicted last year. According to the Commission, countries should extend a voluntary objective to reduce their gas demand by 15% compared to their 2017-2022 average consumption from April to March 2024. The deadline was set for the end of March. Between August and January 2023, EU countries reduced their total gas use by 19%, thanks to an unusually warm winter.
Rising costs contributed to a reduction in industrial output, while the EU and national governments pushed consumers to cut their energy consumption. As a result, Europe is nearing the conclusion of the winter with abnormally large levels of gas stored. They also have a more reliable supply outlook as a result of quickly developing renewable energy to help substitute Russian gas and building infrastructure to accept fuel imports from alternate sources.
There are still risks, such as cold weather or rising Chinese gas consumption, which could cut down on the amount of gas that is available to European consumers. In order for countries to fill their gas storage to 90% of capacity by November—a contractual goal EU countries agreed upon last year to help prevent winter shortages—continued limits on gas demand are required, according to the Commission. The EU’s energy commissioner, Kadri Simson, stated that “our combined efforts on gas demand reduction have been vital to get through this winter safely.” She also mentioned the “excellent progress” made on supply diversification and lowering reliance on Russia.
She stated, “Continued gas demand reduction will assure our preparedness for the following winter and allow us to more easily attain the 90% gas storage objective by 1 November,” but she also noted that the global gas markets are anticipated to remain tight during the ensuing months. At a meeting on March 28 in Brussels, EU energy ministers will talk about the goal. Authorities stated that not all nations backed the legislation, but given that it needed the support of EU members representing at least 65% of the bloc’s total population, they believed it was likely to pass.