Russia has slowly been cutting off its supply of gas to Europe under the guise of “maintenance work”. Energy firm Gazprom said earlier this week that stopping another turbine at the Nord Stream 1 pipeline would cut daily gas production to just 20 per cent.
Although the UK is not directly reliant on a large amount of Russian gas, the general rise in global demand from other sources is pushing prices higher here too. This week, Ofgem warned that the energy price cap will rise again in October – with expectations that it will increase far above the previously forecast increase to £2,800 a year.
It is believed the UK government has already drawn up several emergency measures to tackle the energy crisis, which include appeals to the public to use less energy in the event of an electricity or gas supply shortage to avoid power blackouts.
For countries which are directly reliant on Russian gas, however, such as the vast majority of mainland Europe, a fundamental supply problem is already a reality.
In the German city of Hanover, the city authorities have taken exceptional measures to curb energy use, setting up a new state government department to “identify and implement” energy-saving potential.. In a bid to cut down gas usage by 15 per cent and mitigate the fluctuations in supply coming from Russia, they have put in place a series of new rules which ban municipal buildings from putting on heating before 1 October and after 31 March; switching off hot water in public hand basins and public showers in gyms and swimming pools and shutting down fountains and outdoor lighting and tourist attractions and museums.
Private businesses are also asked to limit room temperatures to 20 degrees year round and give “critical consideration” to the number of electrical devices at the workplace. “Example: where it is organisationally possible, printers should be removed,” it adds. The city is also banning portable air conditioners, heaters and radiators.
Hanover is not the first German city to introduce energy-saving measures – although it is probably the most extreme so far. Unfortunately, this rationing of energy could be a taste of things to come, not just for Germany, but across the world.