Germany on track to fill gas storage facilities ‘to 85 percent’

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According to draft measures as part of the German government’s Energy Saving Ordinance, shop window lighting will have to be turned off from 10pm to 6am. Meanwhile, doors and windows won’t be allowed to stay open permanently to try and keep the heat in. 

Economy and Climate Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) reiterated on Monday that Germany has a “very critical winter ahead”. In a political and social effort, energy has to be saved, he said. “We all have to get our act together and make a real effort.”

Habeck cited the requirement that storefront lighting at shops across Germany be turned off at night. He also said public buildings and monuments would no longer be lit up fully, and people in Germany won’t be allowed to heat their private pools.

According to media reports, the cabinet plans to adopt the ordinance on Wednesday. It is scheduled to come into force on September 1st.

Safety worries

Although the German Retail Association has backed the efforts to save energy, it has raised concerns about safety. 

“With shop window lighting, we ensure safety and social responsibility in cities, especially in the less frequented periods at night,” the chief executive of the German Retail Association Stefan Genth told the Funke Mediengruppe. Saving energy must not be at the expense of safety, he said, adding that retailers are already consciously making an effort.

READ ALSO: Germany has failed to do its energy ‘homework’ and now faces years of catching up

“It is particularly effective not to set air conditioners at a very cool level in summer, and not to turn up the heating so much in winter,” Genth said.

He pointed out that turning down room temperatures by just one degree saves six percent energy when heating. With the new regulation he said it would be possible to lower the temperature in stores to 19C. He added that lighting fixtures could also be switched to LEDs.

The Retail Association also said it plans to offer stores posters to put on doors to show that businesses are still open – even when doors are firmly shut to save energy. 

It comes after Spain implemented an energy saving plan on August 10th, which includes an order for shops to turn their lights off at night.  

Meanwhile, German climate economist Ottmar Edenhofer has warned of a “supply and security crisis” in the electricity sector during winter.

In an interview with the Funke Mediengruppe, the director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) cited the “major outages of nuclear power in France, the dried-up rivers through which barely any coal is reaching the power plants, and rising electricity prices” as the causes.

READ ALSO: Cold showers to turning off lights: How German cities are saving energy

Against the backdrop of this situation, Edenhofer expressed his openness to extend nuclear power plants in Germany for a limited period. However, this would “only make sense if it helps prevent a short-term supply crisis in the electricity sector,” Edenhofer added.

Economy Minister Habeck at the weekend ruled out extending the lifespan of the country’s three remaining nuclear power plants to save gas. He said it would only save two percent of gas use at most.

Despite the additional problems due to drought, “caused by the climate change that is already taking place,” and the consequences of the Ukraine war, Edenhofer still believes that Germany’s climate goals are achievable. However, “the gap between the targets and their implementation has widened even more due to the Ukraine war,” he said.