Energy Transition

Warning for Europe over 2023 gas shortages: What you need to know about the global energy crisis this week

Dr. Fatih Birol, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency in Singapore. Global energy crisis this week: The International Energy Agency (IEA) head Fatih Birol is "ringing the alarm bells" for EU nations ahead of potential gas shortages.

Global energy crisis this week: The International Energy Agency (IEA) head Fatih Birol is "ringing the alarm bells" for EU nations ahead of potential gas shortages. Image: REUTERS/Isabel Kua

Roberto Bocca
Head of Centre for Energy and Materials; Member of the Executive Committee, World Economic Forum
Stefan Ellerbeck
Senior Writer, Forum Agenda
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  • This weekly round-up brings you the latest developments in the global energy sector.
  • Top energy stories: The IEA warns Europe over its gas storage strategy; key Asian economies stockpile fuel for winter, and Canada announces more support for its green energy transition.
  • For more on the World Economic Forum’s work in the energy space, visit the Energy, Materials and Infrastructure Platform.

1. News in brief: Energy stories from around the world

Several major Asian economies are stockpiling fuel, diversifying sources and conserving power to ensure adequate supplies for winter. South Korea and Japan are also implementing demand management measures. These include asking consumers to turn off unnecessary lighting and keep lower heating temperatures.

Gas emissions from the EU’s energy sector have ended more than a year of post-pandemic rises, according to the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA). "The post-COVID rebound in the EU's fossil fuel use and emissions has come to an end in the past few months due to the growth in clean energy supply led by solar power and energy saving measures precipitated by the fossil fuel supply crunch," it said.

Chinese electric vehicle maker Nio says it has resumed production at its two factories in the eastern city of Hefei after COVID-19 curbs disrupted operations and delayed deliveries. Nio sold 10,059 cars in October, nearly three times its sales from October 2021.

The German navy is helping Norway protect critical maritime infrastructure such as oil rigs, undersea cables and pipelines. It says it's ready to do the same off the Danish and Swedish coasts. Norway is Europe's biggest producer of natural gas and operates an extensive pipeline network connecting it with the rest of Europe.

German chemicals maker Evonik has secured around 100 megawatts (MW) of electricity per year from an offshore wind park in the North Sea. It’s the latest in a string of German corporations to ramp up renewable energy supplies to reach greenhouse gas emission goals.

Puerto Rico is planning to develop a 17-megawatt electricity generation project which will harness excess battery power from residential solar panels, according to Bloomberg. US company Sunrun Inc will run the proposed virtual power plant, which will then sell excess energy from its existing 7,000 customers to the grid.

The UK government is considering a plan to extend windfall taxes on oil and gas companies' profits, Reuters is reporting. It says a government source confirmed that the idea was being considered as a way to raise around $45 billion over five years, which would help repair the public finances.

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2. The IEA warns the EU over potential 2023 gas shortages

Europe needs to act now to avoid a natural gas shortage next year, given the loss of Russian supply and expectations that Chinese demand will increase, warns the International Energy Agency (IEA). It says the European Union has succeeded in filling storage capacity to 95% ahead of this winter. Still, the challenge next year was likely to be greater, and there was a danger that mild weather had led to a sense of complacency.

A graphic showing which EU countries have the largest capacity for gas storage.
The EU has filled an average of 95% of storage capacity in time for winter. Image: Reuters

"We are ringing the alarm bells for the European government and for the European Commission for next year," International Energy Agency head Fatih Birol said while presenting a report on Europe's supply-demand balance for 2023/24.

The report estimates that Europe could face a gap of as much as 30 billion cubic metres (bcm) of natural gas during the summer period of lower demand which is crucial for refilling its gas storage sites in 2023. Such a gap could see storage only 65% full ahead of next winter instead of a targeted 95% level, Birol said.

The agency says already disrupted supplies could fall further next year if Russian pipeline gas flows stop completely. Competition for liquefied natural gas (LNG), on which Europe has relied heavily this year, is also likely to increase as Chinese demand grows.

3. Canada announces more support for its green transition

Canada will introduce refundable tax credits for clean technologies worth up to 30% of investment costs in a bid to close competitive gaps with the United States in scaling up green technologies. The clean-tech tax credits will be offered for investors in net-zero technologies, battery storage and clean hydrogen.

The government says it will also launch a growth fund by the end of the year to help reduce the risks of private investors investing in new infrastructure and technologies. One of the investment offerings in the growth fund are so-called "contracts for difference", which could help investors in carbon capture and storage mitigate the risk that a future government eliminates Canada's carbon pricing system.

The new green transition measures are "a step in the right direction, but still not enough," said Scott MacDougall, a senior advisor at the Pembina Institute, a clean energy think-tank.

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland had promised an ‘initial response’ to the US Inflation Reduction Act, which was signed into law by President Joe Biden earlier this year. It contains incentives for consumers and businesses to make the low-carbon transition.

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How is the World Economic Forum facilitating the transition to clean energy?

4. More on energy from Agenda

Cities contribute 60% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Contributors from the Basel Agency for Sustainable Energy (BASE) and C4IR India look at how shifting to a circular economy can significantly reduce urban areas' carbon footprint.

EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen says “critical infrastructure is the new frontier of warfare ... and Europe will be prepared”. However, experts are warning that cyber attacks still pose a significant threat to Europe’s energy sector.

The built environment is a primary consumer of cement, aluminium, steel and plastic. These are four of the five materials that account for more than half of the world’s industrial carbon emissions. Ritu Garg, Senior Consultant at Arup, says the supply of and access to ‘circular material’ on a global scale is necessary to achieve a net-zero transition.

To learn more about the work of the Energy, Materials, Infrastructure Platform, contact Anne Therese Andersen: AnneTherese.Andersen@weforum.org

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