Greece will switch off floodlit monuments earlier as part of an EU-wide drive to reduce energy reliance on Russia and burn fifteen percent less gas this winter, Environment and Energy Minister Kostas Skrekas said on Sunday.
In an interview with Kathimerini, Skrekas announced a list of measures described as necessary if Europe is to cut its consumption of natural gas by fifteen percent and could be needed, anyway, if Russia is to cut off natural gas supplies to Europe.
The Greek minister said that initially, municipalities will have to take the lamps out of ten percent of their street lights and switch off lighting on monuments at 3 a.m.
To begin with, the measures will be voluntary but could become mandatory if not enough local authorities voluntarily participate in the move.
Households in Greece could face periodic outages
Skrekas also warned that as a last resort, households could face periodic outages.
“We must all understand that we cannot behave as if nothing’s happening around us,” the minister said. “There is a war that is destroying a country and is also feeding an energy crisis the likes of which we have never seen…we must all realize we cannot waste energy.”
An extensive campaign to urge households to cut their energy consumption will take place.
“Of course, the measure of last resort is an imposed consumption cut on household consumers through rolling blackouts…we cannot exclude anything,” Skrekas said.
The government plans to support industries through these lean times whether or not the European Union approves a support mechanism, as the government has requested. However, in anticipation of the difficulties, industries have started to change the mix of fuels they use, Skrekas said.
Greece and Europe agreed to reduce energy reliance on Russia
Last week, the EU agreed to cut natural gas consumption by fifteen percent. That’s in order to reduce its member states’ reliance on Russia for energy.
This reduction would enable countries to keep the lights on in the worst-case scenario if Russia were to totally cut off supplies.
For now, reductions are voluntary but soaring energy prices could act as motivation. In the case of a severe shortage or unusually high consumption, however, the European Commission may make these policies mandatory.
If the Kremlin ordered a complete shutdown of gas from Russia, the European Commission estimates that in an unusually cold winter there would be a shortfall of around 45 billion cubic meters.
That makes up around fifteen percent of what EU member states usually consume between August and March each year.
Gas is the bloc’s leading source of heat and is also used for energy production in varying degrees depending on the country.
The EU agreed that member states that are not interconnected to other member states’ gas networks are exempted of mandatory gas reductions, as they would not be able to free up significant volumes of pipeline gas to the benefit of other member states.
Member states whose electricity grids are not synchronized with the European electricity system and are heavily reliant on gas for electricity production are also exempted in order to avoid the risk of an electricity supply crisis.