BERLIN ( Associated Press) – Germany’s economy minister said on Sunday that the country would restrict the use of natural gas for electricity production amid concerns about possible shortages caused by a cut in supplies from Russia.
Economy Minister Robert Habeck said Germany would try to compensate for the move by increasing the burning of coal, a more polluting fossil fuel.
“It’s bitter, but it’s simply necessary in this situation to reduce gas consumption,” said Habeck, a member of the environmentally conscious Green Party.
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The Russian gas company Gazprom announced last week that it would sharply reduce the supply through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline for technical reasons, but which, according to Habeck, appears to be politically motivated.
Germany, which for a long time relied heavily on energy imports from Russia, began to scale down its imports significantly due to the war in Ukraine.
The government has nevertheless insisted that Russian gas will be needed for a while until alternative sources of energy, such as LNG brought in by ship, become available. Over the past few months, the German government has taken measures to fill gas storage facilities to 90% capacity by November to ensure that enough gas is available as heating fuel through the winter.
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Habeck said storage facilities – currently at 56.7% capacity – could still supplement Russia’s shortage with purchases from elsewhere, but nonetheless described the situation as “serious” and said further measures might be needed.
The German government recently called on citizens to reduce their energy consumption in light of the tense supply situation.
“It is clear that (Russian President Vladimir) Putin’s strategy is to upset us by pushing up the price and dividing us,” Habeck said. “We will not allow that to happen.”