BERLIN (AP) — Germany’s economy minister said Sunday that the country will limit the use of natural gas for electricity production amid concerns about possible shortages caused by a cut in supplies from Russia.
Economy Minister Robert Habeck said that Germany will try to compensate for the move by increasing the burning of coal, a more polluting fossil fuel.
“That’s bitter, but it’s simply necessary in this situation to lower gas usage,” said Habeck, a member of the environmentalist Green party.
Russian gas company Gazprom announced last week that it was sharply reducing supplies through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline for technical reasons, but which Habeck said appeared to be politically motivated.
Germany, which has long relied heavily on energy imports from Russia, began significantly scaling back its imports because of the war in Ukraine.
The government has nevertheless insisted that Russian gas will be needed for a while until alternative sources of energy, such as LNG brought in by ship, are available. Over the past months the German government has taken measures to fill gas storage facilities to 90% capacity by November to ensure enough gas is available as a heating fuel through the winter.
Habeck said storage facilities — currently at 56.7% capacity — were still able to make up the shortfall from Russia with purchases from elsewhere, but nevertheless described the situation as “serious” and said further measures may be necessary.
The German government recently called on citizens to cut back their energy use in light of the tense supply situation.
“It’s obvious that (Russian President Vladimir) Putin’s strategy is to unsettle us by driving up the price and dividing us,” Habeck said. “We won’t let that happen.”