Germany is hunkering down for the possibility of Russia cutting off natural gas supplies, and some cities are preparing for the scenario that hot water for private households will need to be rationed going into winter.
On Saturday, Federal Network Agency President Klaus Mueller called on Germans to save energy and prepare for winter, when use increases. He urged them to use the 12 weeks before winter to have their gas boilers and radiators checked, noting that maintenance “can reduce gas consumption by 10% to 15%.
Hamburg’s state government’s senator for the environment also expressed concern and said he couldn’t rule out that the northern German city would need to limit hot water for private households in the event of a gas shortage.
“In an acute gas shortage emergency, hot water could only be made available at certain times of the day,” Jens Kerstan told weekly newspaper Welt am Sonntag.
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Russia reduced gas flows to Germany, Italy, Austria, the Czech Republic and Slovakia earlier this month, as European Union countries scramble to refill storage facilities with the fuel used to generate electricity, power industry and heat homes in the winter.
Russian state-owned energy company Gazprom blamed a technical problem for the reduction in natural gas flowing through Nord Stream 1. German leaders have rejected that explanation and called the reductions a political move in reaction to the European Union’s sanctions against Russia after its attack on Ukraine .
Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck, who is also Germany’s economy and climate minister and responsible for energy, warned last month that a blockade of the Nord Stream 1 is possible starting July 11, when regular maintenance work is due to start. In previous summers, the work has entailed shutting down the pipeline for about 10 days, he said.
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The question is whether the upcoming regular maintenance of the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline will turn into “a longer-lasting political maintenance,” the energy regulator’s Mueller said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.