Cold showers and no light: how a German city is waging the Russian energy struggle


“Every kilowatt hour saved saves the gas storage tanks,” the mayor’s office said in a press release on Wednesday.

It is the first city in Germany to switch to cold showers in public buildings, making hot water unavailable for hand washing and other uses in government facilities, gyms and swimming pools.

The city, located in the northwest of the country, will also reduce heating in public buildings and stop lighting public buildings at night. Hanover will also shut down public fountains.

“The goal is to reduce our energy consumption by 15%,” said Mayor Belit Onay. “This is a response to the impending gas shortage, which is a major challenge for municipalities – especially for a large city like Hanover.”

“The situation is unpredictable, as the past few days have shown,” he added. “Nevertheless, the capital is trying to prepare as best as possible.”

Across the European Union, member states are trying to conserve and store gas for the winter, and on Tuesday energy ministers agreed in principle to cut gas consumption by 15% from August to March. The bloc has tried to quickly phase out Russian gas imports since Moscow invaded Ukraine in late February, and has pledged to end its dependency completely by 2027.
Germany, the bloc’s largest economy, has traditionally relied on Russian gas to power its homes and businesses. The country has managed to cut Moscow’s share of its gas imports from 55% since the start of the war.
Last month, Russian state energy giant Gazprom cut power through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline by 60%, blaming the West for withholding vital equipment due to sanctions.
The move prompted Germany to declare a “gas crisis” and activate the second phase of its three-phase gas emergency program, bringing it one step closer to rationing supplies to industry.
Earlier this week, Gazprom again cut deliveries through the pipeline to just 20% of its capacity, citing maintenance work.

Anna Cooban, Nadine Schmidt and Mark Thompson reported.

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