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As the argument between Russia and the Ukraine over gas supplies continues, energy expert Hans-Joachim Ziesing says Germany needs to diversify and reduce usage if it is to survive the cold – now and in the future.
Ziesing: If the gas strike continues, Germany could be in trouble
Hans-Joachim Ziesing is an energy expert at Ecologic Institute for International and European Environmental Policy in Berlin.
Deutsche Welle: How serious is the situation? Are things about to get very cold in Germany?
Hans-Joachim Ziesing: I think there is a bit of a difference between some European countries and Germany. I believe in Germany it isn't going to get cold anytime soon, though if the interruption lasts longer then there will certainly be problems here.
But we need to ensure that we have other supply sources -- like the Netherlands and Norway -- and that we keep our reserves full. We'll certainly be able to deal with the interruption for the time being, but not if it lasts for more than a couple of weeks. Then we'll definitely have problems.
Can Russia still be considered a dependable partner when it comes to gas supplies?
What I find completely unacceptable is that the dispute between Russia and Ukraine is being pushed on to the backs of other nations. Both Russia and the Ukraine should really be careful that other nations don't begin to doubt their dependability.
What does this mean for the European Union? What consequences can we expect?
What the consequences will be isn't easy to say, because we certainly can't live without Russian gas in the foreseeable future. It is currently that largest gas supply sustaining us. Of course we need to diversify our gas supplies, and tap into other sources.
There are already a couple of LNG (liquid natural gas) reserves that we can fall back on, which would also help us be more energy efficient. I think that using less gas and replacing some of the gas we use with other sources is something we urgently need to do in order to be able to avoid situations like these.
But that is something we can do in the future. What could help in the short term?
There isn't a lot that can help in the short term. We can fall back on the other sources. We'll have to use our gas reserves to get through this bottleneck. Especially since we are experiencing such cold temperatures right now, and this is going to raise the amount of gas needed to warm people's houses.
I think we need to try and reduce our usage where we can. That would certainly help.