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Von Der Leyen's Proposal to Reduce Heating Temperature by 2 Degrees 'Naive', Analysts Say

The proposal voiced by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to lower domestic thermostats in Europe by 2 degrees Celsius to replace gas supplies from Russia's Nord Stream 1 is "incredibly naive," energy experts said on Tuesday.

On Monday, the EC head said that Europeans can replace gas supplies coming via Russia's Nord Stream 1 pipeline by lowering the heating or air conditioner temperatures by 2 degrees, adding that the EU has comprehensive emergency plans in place, including energy savings.

Samuele Furfari, a professor of geopolitics of energy at ULB university in Brussels, believes that von der Leyen's proposal is "ridiculous," as a two-degree reduction in heating cannot replace energy demand of 194 million European households.

"It is incredibly naive of the President of the European Commission to present a 2-degree reduction in domestic heating, for more than 194 million households in the Europe at 27 [countries], as a solution to the end of the supply of Russian gas by Nord Stream 1. It is moreover only the capacity of Nord Stream 1 which would be 'covered' by this theoretical and simplistic reduction. There are other gas pipelines delivering Russian gas. She even specifies, since the commission seems to have thought about this ridiculous idea, that it would also apply to air conditioning. We navigate in a pure dream," Furfari said.

Gas demand is inelastic, so Europe cannot lower the heating in hospitals or schools, and it is "a dream" to believe that EU residents will simply comply with von der Leyen's proposal, which will "hit people hard" in their comfort zone, he added.

"How are we going to apply this theoretical measure seriously? By installing 'limited' room thermostats, such as for car or motorcycle engines? Are we being prepared for Orwell's society? No EU government is going to accept that Brussels gives them temperature reduction instructions or face sanctions. I am not even talking about the electricity market, which does not work in Europe, with the emphasis wrongly put on pseudo-renewable energies. Obviously, the European Commission is totally stuck, and Brussels does not know what to do. There is no other solution than that of Russian gas supplies for a long time to come. We are waiting for the next 'brilliant' idea from the European Commission," Furfari said.

According to the professor, 70% of the gas consumed in Europe is allocated to the production of heat, and even when Germany relaunches its coal power stations, which emit large amounts of CO2, it will be far too little to compensate for the loss of gas.

Damien Ernst, a Liege university professor in Belgium and a specialist of electromechanical engineering and energy, said that von der Leyen's proposal shows how much the EU is "at a loss."

"Europe will suffer terribly in terms of energy prices and scarcity. This astonishing reaction from Ursula von der Leyen is even scary, as she is so naive, and shows how much the EU is at a loss. The EU is not going to send armies of controllers to check the ambient temperature in people's homes. At best, Europe can only carry out awareness campaigns on the need to save energy," Ernst said.

If there is a signal that the price will become "astronomically high," people and businesses will spontaneously reduce their consumption, causing a sharp decrease in demand and reducing the competitiveness of European producers compared to those from Asia and the US, Ernst explained.

"Europe has it all wrong," he lamented.

AfD spokesman in the Bundestag Economic Affairs and Energy Committee Steffen Kotre, in turn, said that the EC head should advise her German colleagues to immediately open the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, instead of proposing to reduce domestic heating.

"Mrs von der Leyen, the head of the European Commission, should advise Germany to open Nord Stream 2 immediately to compensate for the loss of throughput of Nord Stream 1, and to restart German nuclear power plants for electricity production, rather than make ridiculous statements about the energy savings Europeans should make by reducing their thermostat to compensate for Europe's misguided policy in the Ukrainian conflict. It would impose a loss of comfort to all the citizens of the union," Kotre said.

According to the expert, the German federal government is endangering the country's future with its "energy policy narrow-mindedness," and the six nuclear power plants, which were shut down at the end of 2021, or scheduled to be shut down at the end of 2022, could replace a significant part of Russia's natural gas, which is converted into electricity. To cover the rest, the phase-out of Russian gas must be halted.

"Minister [Robert] Habeck's energy policy is driving our country against a wall," the professor concluded.

[Source: Sputnik, Brussels, 21Jun22]

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