As Europe heads into the winter season, colder-than-expected temperatures might pose a challenge to the energy security situation on the continent.
According to space technology company Maxar Technologies, a major portion of continental Europe is set to see colder weather over the next two weeks which would be higher than earlier forecasts. On Dec. 3, temperatures in the German capital city of Berlin are projected to drop to as low as -3.5 degrees celsius (26 degrees F), according to Maxar, cited by Bloomberg.
Though Portugal, Spain, and France will remain mild for the next few days, a cold front is expected to brew by next week. In northern Sweden and northern Norway, milder anomalies are expected for six to ten days.
Due to the recent autumn season that turned out to be unseasonably warm, Europe has built up its gas storage levels which are currently around 95 percent full. However, this might not be enough in the case of a harsh winter.
“The fact that you have full storage doesn’t mean that you can actually sleep soundly if the weather gets cold and if you need to use gas at a higher rate to support it,” Anna Mikulska, Non-Resident Fellow in Energy Studies at the Center for Energy Studies at Rice University’s Baker Institute, said in an interview with The Cipher Brief.
“Because storage in Europe and everywhere is not there to store enough gas to support countries throughout the entire heating season. It’s there to balance the supply and demand and obviously that balance is very tough now to keep.”
Next Winter Season, Deindustrialization
Europe might face an even more severe test next winter according to Paolo Gentiloni, European Commissioner for the economy. Such a development would weigh heavily on the region’s economy, which is trying to navigate through huge inflationary pressures and an energy crisis.
In an interview with Euro News, Gentiloni pointed out that forecasts suggest Europe being in an economic recovery by the middle of next year and inflation decreasing in the second half.
“At the same time, of course, we know that if we are not able to bring the (Ukraine) war to an end, the risks on energy next winter, not this one, but next winter could be even worse than those that we are facing now,” he said.
Energy bills in European households are already almost 90 percent higher when compared to a year back according to a report by the Household Energy Price Index (HEPI). The Russia–Ukraine war and the consequent sanctions on the Kremlin have triggered a cost-of-living crisis across Europe, it said.
In an interview with Reuters, Daniel Kral, senior economist at Oxford Economics, warned about the risk of European deindustrialization triggered by the energy crisis.
If energy prices remain high in Europe for such a length of time that the domestic industry becomes “structurally uncompetitive,” many factories might shut down. Such factories might shift to the United States which is home to “an abundance of cheap shale energy.”