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Natural gas usage in the EU has been declining, with imports of piped fuel averaging 11.6 billion cubic meters (bcm) in June, a 20% year-on-year reduction, according to the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF) in its monthly report.
According to the journal, gas consumption by the 27-member union fell by 10% in yearly terms in the first half of 2023, totaling 178 bcm. Overall, pipeline gas supply to the EU fell 34% to 76.7 bcm due to lower imports from Russia and Norway.
“This decrease was primarily due to increased wind and solar energy output, which resulted in less reliance on gas for electricity generation.” Furthermore, the ongoing implementation of the EU legislation encouraging a voluntary 15% reduction in gas demand from 1 April 2023 to 31 March 2024 has an impact on gas consumption in the EU, according to the GECF.
Despite recent drops in gas prices, industrial sector demand has not entirely recovered compared to last year, according to the research.
Gas-based power output in the EU fell 17% year on year, while total electricity production fell 7% to 182 terawatt-hours (TWh). Furthermore, there was a 39% decline in coal-fired electricity generation.
Previously, the EU imported nearly two-fifths of its gas needs from Russia. Member states committed last year to limit gas use by 15% from August 2022 to March 2023. The contract has been extended for another year.
However, according to the European Environmental Bureau, only 14 of the EU’s 27 member states have implemented mandatory steps to reduce energy use.
Germany, France, Italy, Spain, and Portugal are said to have accounted for 60% of the drop in demand, while Bulgaria, Latvia, and Romania are the only member states that have not enacted any energy-saving laws. This was partly related to these countries’ already low gas demand.
According to energy experts, the mild winter of 2022 will help EU members consume less energy, but high costs will cause energy-intensive companies to reduce production.