Brussels worried about Germany: Italy scrapes past the gas crisis in winter

Brussels worried about Germany
Italy scrapes past the gas crisis in winter

Unlike Germany, Italy is not too worried about the coming winter: the environment minister expects gas storage facilities to be almost full by the end of the year. In addition to renewables, he also relies on nuclear power. The German emergency is meanwhile occupying the EU summit in Brussels.

Italy believes it can avoid an energy crisis next winter thanks to its recent moves to find alternatives to Russian gas. “The danger is almost over,” Roberto Cingolani, the minister for ecological transition, told the newspaper “La Stampa”. The non-party university professor calculated that the country’s gas storage facilities were 55 percent full. By the end of the year, it is expected that they will be 90 percent full – this and the gas from new suppliers, for example from Africa, should then bring Italy safely through the winter. “We can catch our breath from next year, because then we’ll get 18 billion cubic meters of gas from the new suppliers, so this year we’ll get five to six,” explained Cingolani.

Before war broke out in Ukraine, Italy had received a good 38 percent of its gas, or the equivalent of a good 29 billion cubic meters a year, from Russia. Most recently, Rome concluded new deals with gas producers from Algeria, Qatar and Azerbaijan, for example. The minister admitted that Russia “can still hurt us if the gas tap is turned off immediately.” However, he sees Italy in a much better position for such a case than Germany or Austria.

Rome wants to have replaced all its imports from Russia with gas from other countries by early 2024. Until then, active coal-fired power plants should step in, but no new ones will go into operation. Cingolani hopes for the further expansion of renewable energies in the future. In addition, the minister pleads for the latest generation of nuclear power plants, “because it is difficult to do everything with wind power and photovoltaics alone”. During his tenure, he repeatedly received criticism for this proposal, especially from environmentalists. Italy phased out nuclear energy in the late 1980s.

Summit in Brussels debates German dependency

The gas crisis and other economic consequences of the Ukraine war also determined the second day of the EU summit in Brussels. The heads of state and government of the European Union discussed this with the head of the European Central Bank (ECB), Christine Lagarde. There is concern that Russian President Vladimir Putin will stop gas supplies to the EU altogether, an EU diplomat said. There is currently no consensus on the capping of energy prices demanded by some countries. A special energy summit suggested by Italy is not initially planned.

Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo was concerned about the situation in Germany. “It’s the only country so far that has had to admit that it may have to cut some of its economic activity because it doesn’t have enough gas,” De Croo said. He warned of a domino effect: “If Germany gets into trouble, it will also have an enormous impact on all other European countries.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.