Berlin landmarks darken amid Russia’s gas crisis in Germany

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From the State Opera to Charlottenburg Palace, Berlin is turning off the lights of its landmarks one by one in a race to save the energy it needs to heat homes in winter.

The dome of Berlin Cathedral faded and the silhouettes of statues stood in the darkness as Russia cut natural gas supplies to Germany this week.

In the north of the country, the city of Hanover launched a plan to control consumption on Wednesday. Hot water has stopped flowing in showers or bathrooms in public buildings and sports facilities, and temperatures will be regulated in schools.

The fountains in Hanover have also fallen silent, days after Russian energy giant Gazprom announced it would halve the daily gas flowing through its main pipeline to Germany – the largest between Russia and the United States. Western Europe – keeping European fears over the continent’s energy crisis high.

“Faced with the war against Ukraine and the energy threats from Russia, it is vital that we manage our energy with the utmost caution,” said Berlin Environment Senator Bettina Jarasch in an announcement on the shutdown of 200 sites.

Shutting down nearly 1,400 floodlights or searchlights could take weeks as workers will have to travel from building to building to disconnect equipment. While it could slash about $40,000 a year, the German capital won’t save money initially due to the costs of the surgery, the senator’s office said.

Amid summer heatwave, Germany worries about having enough gas for winter

As prices squeeze Europe and countries rush to hoard storage, Germany’s reliance on Russian gas has made it particularly vulnerable to disruption. The country still depends on Russia for about a third of its supplies.

Cutting off gas flow through Nord Stream 1, Gazprom cited problems with the pipeline’s turbines.

But German officials have accused Moscow of using the energy as leverage in its war in Ukraine to retaliate against Western sanctions and arms shipments to Kyiv. Last week, the European Union urged its 27 countries to ration gas ahead of winter and cut consumption by 15% in the coming months.

The plan in Hannover is to cut consumption by 15% to stockpile supplies so the city can operate critical infrastructure, nursing homes and clinics in an emergency. Mayor Belit Onay said authorities were “trying to prepare as best they can” for the possibility of a worse shortage.

Hanover was the first major city to launch its energy-saving mission as others draw up emergency plans, according to German media. Some homeowners are already rationing hot water across the country, while fountains are drying up.

“The situation is unpredictable, as the last few days have shown,” the mayor told reporters at a press conference on the measures. “Every kilowatt-hour saved protects gas storage.”

Sofia Diogo Mateus contributed to this report.

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