Brussels worried about Germany: Italy overcame a gas crisis in the winter

Brussels fears Germany
Italy overcame the gas crisis in the winter

Unlike Germany, Italy is not too worried about the coming winter: the environment minister expects the gas tanks to be almost full by the end of the year. In addition to renewable sources, it also relies on nuclear energy. The emergency situation in Germany, meanwhile, is occupying the EU summit in Brussels.

Italy believes it can avoid the energy crisis next winter thanks to its recent steps in finding alternatives to Russian gas. “The danger is almost over,” Roberto Cingolani, the minister for environmental transformation, told La Stampa. A non-partisan university professor calculated that the country’s gas tanks are 55 percent full. By the end of the year, they are expected to be 90 percent full, and gas from new suppliers, such as Africa, should then safely import Italy through the winter. “We can catch our breath next year, because then we will get 18 billion cubic meters of gas from new suppliers and we will get five to six this year,” Cingolani explained.

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

Rome wants to replace all its imports from Russia with gas from other countries by the beginning of 2024. Until then, active coal-fired power plants should start, but no new ones will go into operation. Cingolani hopes to further expand renewable energies in the future. The minister also defends 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 put an end to nuclear energy in the late 1980s.

The Brussels summit discusses German addiction

The gas crisis and other economic consequences of the Ukrainian war 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 are fears that Russian President Vladimir Putin will completely stop gas supplies to the EU, said an EU diplomat. There is currently no consensus on the reduction of energy prices demanded by some countries. A special energy summit proposed by Italy is not originally planned.

Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo was concerned about the situation in Germany. “It is the only country that has had to admit that it may have to reduce some of its economic activity because it does not have enough gas,” De Croo said. He warned of the domino effect: “If Germany gets into trouble, it will also have a huge impact on all other European countries.”

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