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Energy crisis and war in Ukrain

The war in Ukraine and the ensuing geopolitical tensions have led to significant changes in European energy dynamics. Initially, there was a reduction in gas and oil supplies from Russia, which, however, were never completely halted and have recently shown signs of increase. This scenario has led to a notable decrease in gas and electricity consumption across much of Europe.

According to the MED & Italian Energy Report presented in Brussels, Europe is the region with the highest energy dependency in the world, at 55.5%. In comparison, China is at 20%, while the USA is completely self-sufficient. In the European energy mix, there has been a decline in the use of coal (from 31% to 16%), an increase in natural gas (from 12% to 20%), and a significant rise in renewable energies (from 15% to 38%). Gas imports from Russia dropped from 41.1% in 2021 to 10% in 2022 and further to 6% in the first nine months of 2023. Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) has seen an increase, with supplies from the USA and Algeria growing from 26% to 30% and from 11% to 15%, respectively, between 2021 and 2023.

Maritime traffic plays a strategic role, with 20% of the world’s oil trade passing through the Strait of Hormuz and 10% of global oil and 8% of LNG traffic transiting through the Suez Canal. Europe and the eastern Mediterranean shore rely on the southern Mediterranean shore for 18% and 27% of their total oil and gas imports. Italy is the most energy-dependent country in Europe, with a rate of 73.5%, while France, which utilizes nuclear power, stands at 44.2%.

In Germany, the Bundestag adopted an energy efficiency law, imposing consumption reductions on companies and a 2% annual energy saving for administrations. In 2022, electricity consumption decreased by 4% to 484.2 TWh, and gas consumption by 17.6%, according to the Federal Network Agency. Despite German storage facilities reaching 100% filling, recent low temperatures have led to an increased consumption of gas.

In Spain, the government imposed temperature limits for air conditioning and heating in various public facilities, contributing to a reduction in gas consumption to 364.4 TWh (-3.7%) and electricity to 250.5 TWh (-2.4%).

Estonia encouraged the use of solar panels and the renovation of homes, leading to an increase in electricity consumption to 9.6 TWh in 2022, while natural gas consumption decreased by 27%.

In France, final electricity consumption decreased by 5% in 2022, to 414 TWh. The United Kingdom aims to reduce its energy consumption by 15% by 2030. In Greece, electricity consumption dropped by 4.15% from January to August 2023 compared to the previous year.

In Poland and the Czech Republic, electricity consumption decreased by 0.5% and 3.9%, respectively, in 2022. The Polish government announced a 10% reduction on the energy bill for families that reduce their consumption between October 1, 2022, and December 31, 2023, compared to the previous equivalent period. In the Czech Republic, electricity consumption decreased by 3.9% in 2022, with a particularly marked drop (-9%) in domestic consumption, the sharpest decline in 20 years.

In Sweden, the Energy Agency reported that in 2022 electricity consumption fell by 4.45% to 137 TWh, mainly due to “very high electricity prices.”

In Italy, according to the MASE Report, in 2022 there was a 3.7% decrease in energy consumption compared to 2021, distributed between the residential sector (-10.3%), industry (-7.8%), and services (-2.9%). Terna, the company managing the national transmission network, found that the demand for electricity in 2022 totaled 316.8 billion kWh, marking a 1% decrease from the previous year. In the first nine months of 2023, methane demand fell by 13.8% compared to the same period in 2022, for a total of nearly 7.1 billion cubic meters less, while imports decreased by 15.6%.

In conclusion, the energy crisis and measures adopted in response to the war in Ukraine have led to significant changes in energy consumption patterns in Europe. Nations are adopting various strategies to address the situation, including energy efficiency laws, incentives for energy saving, and the adoption of alternative energy sources. These actions represent crucial steps towards a more sustainable energy future and less dependence on external sources.

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