Status: 18.12.2022 08:30 a.m
Due to low temperatures, less gas was saved in December than experts are demanding. Is there a gas shortage now? Current data help with the classification. They show how cold it was compared to previous years and how much gas was used.
The Federal Network Agency calls for savings of at least 20 percent compared to previous years. This is the only way to avoid a gas shortage this winter with some certainty. But at the beginning of December, significantly less was saved than necessary. “If this remains an outlier, we don’t have to worry about it,” said the head of the authority, Klaus Müller, to the “Tagesspiegel”. “But it will remain cold for the next few days. It is therefore important that we don’t let up on our savings efforts and hold out throughout the winter,” warned Müller. Although the gas storage facilities in Germany are still full, the weather plays a decisive role, since more heating is required when temperatures are low and therefore more gas is consumed.
Temperature and Gas Consumption: Data updated weekly
The following graphs show how much gas was last used compared to previous years and how the outside temperatures were compared historically. They are updated weekly with data from the Federal Network Agency and the German Weather Service.
Current gas consumption in Germany
Weekly average temperature
5.2 percent less gas consumed than the average of previous years
In the calendar week from 05.12. average temperature was 0.2°C. It was 2.7 degrees colder than the corresponding weekly average for the years 2018 to 2021. At the same time, 5.2 percent less gas was used during the week. If one calculates the temperature effect and only takes into account the savings efforts of gas consumers, according to the Federal Network Agency, consumption was actually 12 percent lower than in the corresponding comparison period of previous years. The Federal Network Agency always considers the last two calendar weeks.
Higher temperatures, lower gas consumption
October and the first half of November were warmer than average this year. Accordingly, the gas savings in industry and households were significantly higher. In the last week of October, for example, a good third less gas was used than in previous years. Only when the cold weather set in did the savings drop noticeably.
In order to assess the current situation, the Federal Network Agency takes five factors into account, which are updated regularly: In addition to the gas storage levels and the temperature-adjusted gas consumption, the temperature forecast and the situation in the neighboring countries play a role. And the authority is also looking at the procurement of so-called control energy. This means the amount of gas that is required to compensate for fluctuations in daily consumption.
Federal Network Agency: The situation is tense
The Federal Network Agency currently classifies the gas supply in Germany as stable. The security of supply is currently guaranteed. However, a worsening of the tense situation cannot be ruled out.
“There are currently no general or regional supply bottlenecks,” writes the Association of Gas Transmission System Operators when asked by NDR. It is said that one does not want to speculate whether such bottlenecks could occur in the course of the winter.
Reversal of flow direction: special challenge
The fact that more gas is now flowing from west to east as a result of the collapse in Russian supplies poses particular challenges for the gas network operators. Because unlike electricity, gas cannot be sent in all directions in the pipeline network at will. If the flows reverse, sometimes significant technical adjustments are necessary. For example, the pressure in the network must be set everywhere so that the gas flows correctly. For example, it may be necessary to convert so-called compressor stations that compress the gas.
According to the network operators, solutions for this challenging situation were developed as part of the joint network planning processes so that there would be no regional bottlenecks.
Gas savings in EU countries in comparison
In a European comparison, Germany is currently in the middle when it comes to saving gas. Energy experts from the Brussels think tank Bruegel have compiled the gas consumption data of European countries from various sources.
Overall, the countries for which data are already available consumed around 23 percent less gas in November than the corresponding monthly average for the years 2019 to 2021. In contrast to the above data from the Federal Network Agency, Bruegel is referring to the average of three instead of four earlier years.
The member states of the European Union are required to reduce their consumption by 15 percent between August 2022 and the end of March 2023 compared to the average of the previous five years. That says the gas emergency plan of the EU Commission. However, the savings program is not mandatory.