30th Nov 2022

Europe burned more gas for power despite crunch

  • The Tignes Dam on the Isère in the Rhône-Alpes region in France (Photo: European Roads)
Listen to article

Europe has burned more gas for power generation during the first seven months of 2022 than during the same period last year — despite pledges by EU member states to reduce gas use by 15 percent.

The findings were presented on Thursday (1 September) by Rystad Energy.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Gas-use was up 4.28 percent for the generation of electricity, which translates to 13.2 terawatts. Coal made an even bigger jump, with 11.9 percent, or 27.9 terawatts of electricity.

Europe is "suffering from a hydro and nuclear power crisis," CEO and founder Jarand Rystad said.

Supply in both is down by 20.8 percent and 11.8 percent respectively this year, which translates to 110 terawatt hours of electricity, roughly equivalent to the total loss of electricity caused by lower Russian gas supplies.

Hydro power, which provides 16 percent of European electricity, was especially hard-hit. As temperatures soared in the summer months, hydro plants had to divert water or shut down completely.

In France, Europe's largest producer, hydro power generated 27 percent less electricity. In Italy and Spain supply was 40 and 44 percent down.

Nuclear power plants were also forced to shut down because water flow in rivers, normally used to cool reactors, was too low. This has contributed to a 57-percent drop in nuclear power output in France.

To make up for this, gas and coal are increasingly being used for power generation.

But it comes at a challenging time.

In July energy ministers agreed to voluntarily reduce gas use by 15 percent as part of a package of measures meant to prevent a gas crunch this winter.

According to Rystad figures, Russian state-owned gas company Gazprom has reduced gas flows to Europe from 350 million cubic metres a day (mcm) in August last year down to 50mcm now– which translates to a year-on-year drop of roughly 85 percent.

This has led to an historic price rally in recent weeks, with Dutch benchmark prices for gas reaching a record €346 per megawatt-hour on 26 August, although since then prices have come down.

High prices have already forced some businesses and industrial producers to shut down.

Cited by the Financial Times on Thursday, Siegfried Russwurm, head of the main German business lobby, the BDI, said industrial gas consumption in Europe had declined 21 percent in July compared to a year ago.

"Industry is suffering because they cannot get gas," Rystad said, a situation likely made worse if gas energy companies burn gas to generate electricity.

"We have seen blackouts in China, so they are also suffering from this," he said, adding that burning gas for power drives up prices around the globe.

Russia blames Western sanctions for EU gas supply problems

Moscow said Western sanctions are causing the problems preventing the restoration of gas flows via the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline, as energy prices soared in response to Russia's decision to keep the pipeline closed, following an apparent oil leak.

EU energy ministers' meeting ends with 'no decision made'

EU energy ministers met for an extraordinary council meeting to discuss a unified European response to the energy crisis — but no decision was reached, with negotiations likely continuing until the end of September.


Asbestos — two to three times more deadly than known

Where once working men in heavy industry were diagnosed with cancers related to a more direct exposure to asbestos, now women in professions such as teaching, nursing and other occupations are being diagnosed, as well as young people.

News in Brief

  1. 'Pro-Kremlin group' in EU Parliament cyberattack
  2. Ukraine will decide on any peace talks, Borrell says
  3. Germany blocks sale of chip factory to Chinese subsidiary
  4. Strikes and protests over cost-of-living grip Greece, Belgium
  5. Liberal MEPs want Musk quizzed in parliament
  6. Bulgarian policeman shot dead at Turkish border
  7. 89 people allowed to disembark in Italy, aid group says
  8. UN chief tells world: Cooperate on climate or perish

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP27: Food systems transformation for climate action
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region and the African Union urge the COP27 to talk about gender equality
  3. International Sustainable Finance CentreJoin CEE Sustainable Finance Summit, 15 – 19 May 2023, high-level event for finance & business
  4. Friedrich Naumann Foundation European DialogueGender x Geopolitics: Shaping an Inclusive Foreign Security Policy for Europe
  5. Obama FoundationThe Obama Foundation Opens Applications for its Leaders Program in Europe
  6. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBA lot more needs to be done to better protect construction workers from asbestos

Latest News

  1. Nato renews membership vow to Ukraine
  2. Catalan spyware victims demand justice
  3. Is the overwhelming critique of Qatar hypocritical?
  4. EU carbon-removal scheme dubbed 'smokescreen for inaction'
  5. EU lawmakers under pressure to act on 90,000 asbestos deaths
  6. Post-COP27 optimism — non-Western voices are growing
  7. Legal scholars: Prosecuting Putin 'legally problematic'
  8. A missed opportunity in Kazakhstan

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us