Mr. Müller, the gas storage tanks are almost full, and the chancellor is spreading confidence. Are we all too nervous?
no The situation is significantly better than in spring and summer, when the storage facilities were almost empty. The word relaxation still does not come off my lips. We have organized deliveries from many corners and corners and are getting the LNG terminals on their way at an impressive speed. But all this is not enough to replace Russian gas. Even with the planned additional LNG terminals, we won’t be able to do that for the winter of 2023. That’s why we need savings as a second factor.
How about that?
In industrials, we had a 22 percent drop in August. That’s where we really see innovations and impressive advances in the Fuel Switch. And the companies tell me that there is even more to do. But we’re also seeing hard declines in production because of very high gas prices. I’m not at all happy about the figures for private consumption, which shoot up right at the start of the cooler season. In the past week it has risen by more than half and was 15 percent above the average of the past few years.
Those were exceptionally cool days for September. That’s just a snapshot.
Right. But it doesn’t help. Of course, gas consumption increases with falling temperatures. But the curve is going up far too quickly, even though the prices are sometimes draconian. Regardless of whether the winter is mild or cold, we need savings of at least twenty percent across all areas. We are still a long way from this goal at the moment.
That means: if households don’t turn down their heating more, won’t we be able to get through the winter without a gas shortage?
I don’t see that with the consumption figures we had recently. That is why we will have to make adjustments in the private sector. It’s not easy. Every day in every household there is a discussion: turn on the heating, turn off the heating. That’s 20 million decisions in 180 days. It is practically impossible to predict how this will turn out.
Did this development surprise you?
As an economist, I would have relied on the steering effect of high prices. We see a dramatic increase in the price of natural gas, there are energy-saving campaigns, and yet consumption is rising so steeply. Obviously, many people have not yet realized how expensive their gas consumption really is and what consequences their own high consumption can have for companies and jobs.
Nevertheless, the federal government is discussing a gas price brake that is intended to deliberately undermine the price signal.
It’s a difficult situation. Companies are flooding us with letters that they fear a collapse in demand. Citizens send us their gas bills. There is no denying that support measures are needed. My message in this situation can only be: Dear politicians, we must not lose sight of the steering effect of prices. Price may have been a more serious problem than quantity in recent weeks. But that can also be reversed very quickly.