The European Commission has today (Wednesday, July 20) announced a voluntary target to reduce gas use in Europe until next spring.

The proposed new regulation would set a voluntary target for all member states to reduce gas demand by 15% between August 1, 2022 and March 31, 2023.

The commission would also have the option to impose mandatory gas demand reductions on all member states in the event of a ‘Union Alert’, where there is a substantial risk of a severe shortage or an exceptionally high demand.

All member states have been asked to update their national emergency plans by the end of September to show how they intend to meet the reduction target.

Before considering curtailments, the commission said that member states should exhaust all fuel substitution possibilities, non-mandatory savings schemes and alternative energy sources.

Countries requesting solidarity gas supplies will be required to demonstrate the measures they have taken to reduce demand domestically.

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The commission has also adopted a ‘European Gas Demand Reduction Plan’ which sets out measures, principles and criteria for coordinated demand reduction.

It focuses on substitution of gas with other fuels, and overall energy savings in all sectors and aims to safeguard supplies to households and essential users like hospitals.

Provision would also be made for industries involved in the production of essential items and services.

The commission warned that the EU faces the risk of further gas supply cuts from Russia; almost half of member states are already reporting a reduction in deliveries.

Consumers, public administrations, households, owners of public buildings, power suppliers and industry are being urged to implement measures to save gas.

Work is to be accelerated on supply diversification, including joint purchasing of gas to strengthen the EU’s possibility of sourcing alternative gas deliveries.

The commission outlined that by substituting gas with other fuels and saving energy this summer, more gas can be stored for winter.