That all means Europe could face a shortfall of 30 billion cubic meters of gas next summer, the key period for filling supplies ahead of the winter heating season, when there is stronger demand for the fuel. The figure represents almost half the gas required to fill storage facilities in Europe to 95% capacity before the 2023-2024 winter starts.
European Union governments have committed to reduce gas consumption by 15% over the winter and are pushing conservation and renewables. Use by industry has fallen as prices have grown, and a campaign to buy LNG that comes by ship from countries like the U.S. and Qatar succeeded in filling storage to 95%, according to figures compiled by Gas Infrastructure Europe, an association of companies that operate pipelines, underground storage and LNG facilities.
Remaining pipeline gas and LNG have become much more expensive — almost 70% higher than a year ago even as prices have dropped in recent months — fueling inflation, straining consumer budgets and hurting companies that are heavy users of energy.
Because high fossil fuel prices have depressed demand, monthly carbon dioxide emissions in the European Union have declined since July, compared to the previous year, according to a report released Thursday.
The Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air, a Helsinki-based environmental think tank, said emissions of the greenhouse gas dropped in the four months to October. They had previously risen for 16 months straight as European economies bounced back from coronavirus lockdowns.
The report’s lead author, Lauri Myllyvirta, said a surge in renewable power generation had helped push down carbon dioxide emissions in recent months.
“The post-COVID rebound in the EU’s fossil fuel use and emissions has come to an end in the past few months, due to the growth in clean energy supply led by solar power, and energy-saving measures precipitated by the fossil fuel supply crunch,” he said. “At the same time, clean energy investments and policies have expanded dramatically, which will lead to a sustained and accelerated fall in emissions in the next years.”
AP reporter Frank Jordans contributed from Berlin.