26th Sep 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.

News in Brief

  1. Confirmed: EU drops call for 'independent' Abu Akleh probe
  2. EU plan to stop firework abuse in football stadiums
  3. More Russians now crossing Finnish land border
  4. Report: EU to propose €584bn energy grid upgrade plan
  5. Morocco snubs Left MEPs probing asylum-seeker deaths
  6. EU urges calm after Putin's nuclear threat
  7. Council of Europe rejects Ukraine 'at gunpoint' referendums
  8. Lithuania raises army alert level after Russia's military call-up

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDA - Soft Drinks EuropeCall for EU action – SMEs in the beverage industry call for fairer access to recycled material
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”
  3. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  5. European Centre for Press and Media FreedomEuropean Anti-SLAPP Conference 2022
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling

Latest News

  1. 'Grazie Italia': Far-right wins power in Rome
  2. How the EU is failing to help the hippo
  3. Germany sued over air pollution levels
  4. Meloni mood and energy in focus This WEEK
  5. Ireland joins EU hawks on Russia, as outrage spreads
  6. Editor's weekly digest: Plea for support edition
  7. Investors in renewables face uncertainty due to EU profits cap
  8. How to apply the Nuremberg model for Russian war crimes

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us