The EU will have to reduce its energy needs to avoid running out of gas next winter, according to a report by the International Energy Agency published on Monday.
IEA researchers looked at how the bloc could avoid gas shortages in the coming year if Russia were to shut down all pipeline supplies.
If gas deliveries from Russia fall to zero and liquefied natural gas (LNG) imports from China return to 2021 levels, the gap between supply and demand ‘could reach 27 billion cubic meters’ , according to the report.
This amount represents around 6.5% of total EU consumption in 2021, according to Eurostat.
IEA executive director Fatih Birol said that while the EU had made “significant” progress in reducing its dependence on Russian gas, “it is not yet out of danger”.
The report highlights factors that could put pressure on Europe’s energy supply next year.
This is increased competition to buy LNG due to a rebound in the Chinese economy and the risk of a colder autumn in Europe compared to this year, which would mean increased energy consumption. .
Measures to accelerate gas savings have been outlined in five key areas by the IEA, including a push to boost energy efficiency, accelerate the deployment of renewables, electrify heat, encourage better consumer support for making energy-efficient choices and capturing gas wasted by leaks.
The war in Ukraine has caused a significant increase in energy costs across the bloc.
Before the Russian invasion, the benchmark gas price on the European market was around 20 euros per megawatt hour, a figure that rose to 300 euros this year at its peak, then fell back to 140 euros.
Although the cost has come down since the start of this year, it still represents a sevenfold increase in price.
On Monday, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said she met Fatih Birol at the IEA to discuss the energy outlook for the coming year.
“We’ve come a long way,” she told a news conference. “But our job won’t be done until everyone has access to affordable, safe and clean energy.”
The EU must “accelerate the deployment of renewable energy, we must think big and we must go fast”, added von der Leyen.
Birol said the measures contained in the report represented an overall cost of 100 billion euros, an amount which he said would be “repaid in two years in terms of savings on natural gas bills”.