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The European Union faces a potential shortfall of almost 30 billion cubic meters of natural gas in 2023 – but this gap can be closed and the risk of shortages avoided by stronger efforts to improve energy efficiency, use renewable sources, install heat pumps, promote energy savings and increase gas supplies, the IEA said in a new report published today.

The report – How to avoid gas shortages in the European Union in 2023 – sets out a series of practical actions that Europe can take to build on the impressive progress already made in 2022 in reducing reliance on Russian gas supplies and filling gas storage. on the eve of this winter. The report warns that 2023 could prove to be an even tougher test for Europe as Russian supplies could fall further, global liquefied natural gas (LNG) supplies will be tight – especially if Chinese LNG demand recovers – and noted are unusually mild temperatures at the start of the European winter are not guaranteed to last.

IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol presented the report alongside European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen today at a press conference in Brussels – ahead of an extraordinary meeting of EU energy ministers on 13 December and a meeting of the European Council on 15 December.

“We managed to withstand the Russian energy blackmail. With our REPoverEU plan to reduce the demand for Russian gas by two-thirds before the end of the year, with the mobilization of up to 300 billion euros of investments. “The result of everything is that we are safe for this winter,” he said President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen. “So we are now focusing on preparations for 2023 and next winter.” For this, Europe needs to step up its efforts in several areas, from international outreach to joint gas purchases and increasing and accelerating renewables and demand reduction.

“The European Union has made significant progress in reducing its reliance on Russian natural gas, but it is not yet out of the danger zone,” he said. IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol. “Many of the circumstances that allowed EU countries to fill their storage before this winter may not repeat themselves in 2023. A new IEA analysis shows that a stronger push for energy efficiency, renewables, heat pumps and simple energy-saving actions is vital if we are to prevented the risk of shortages and further sharp price spikes next year.”

As a result of measures taken by European governments and businesses in 2022 in response to the energy crisis, as well as the destruction of demand caused by huge price spikes, the amount of gas in EU storage was well above the five-year average in early December, providing an important buffer for winter. Consumer actions, increased non-Russian gas deliveries and mild weather also helped offset the drop in Russian deliveries in 2022.

Measures already taken by EU governments on energy efficiency, renewables and heat pumps should help reduce the size of the potential gap between gas supply and demand in 2023. Recovery of nuclear and hydropower generation from their decade-low levels in 2022. should also help narrow the gap. Despite all this, the potential gap between EU gas supply and demand could reach 27 billion cubic meters in 2023 in a scenario where gas supplies from Russia fall to zero and China’s LNG imports return to 2021 levels , the report states.

This gap can be closed with additional actions on energy efficiency, renewable energy sources, heat pumps, energy saving and gas supply, the analysis of the report shows.

To encourage faster improvements in energy efficiency, the report recommends expanding existing programs and increasing support measures for home renovations and the adoption of efficient appliances and lighting. It also recommends using smarter technologies and encouraging the switch from gas to electricity in industry.

To speed up the issuance of permits for renewable energy sources, the report suggests adding administrative resources and simplifying procedures. It also proposes greater financial support for heat pumps and changes to tax laws that penalize electrification. It also calls for more and better campaigns to get consumers to reduce their energy consumption and details various programs from a wide range of countries that can serve as best practice.

On the supply side, the report says that while Europe’s options for importing more natural gas are limited, there are several countries with spare export capacity that could increase exports by capturing the gas currently being flared. The report also describes opportunities for increasing low-emission biogas production.

Together, these measures offer a path towards avoiding price spikes, plant closures, increased coal use for electricity generation and fierce international competition for LNG cargoes – in ways that are consistent with the EU’s climate goals.

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