The European Commission this Wednesday urged the Member States of the European Union (EU) to analyze the “potential benefits” of a voluntary joint acquisition of gas reserves, at a time of energy crisis, an initiative similar to the one carried out for the purchase of anti-covid vaccines. 19.
At issue is a communication on energy prices this Wednesday released by the community executive, which works as a “toolbox” to guide EU countries in adopting measures at the national level, at a time when the escalation of the value Electricity, as a result of the rise in the gas market and increased demand, threatens to exacerbate energy poverty and cause difficulties in paying heating bills this fall and winter.
Among the “medium-term measures for a decarbonised and resilient energy system”, Brussels then proposes that countries explore “the potential benefits of voluntary joint acquisition by member states of gas reserves”, a measure that has already been admitted by countries as France or Spain, to deal with problems in the EU’s supply.
This initiative would be similar to the one taken for the joint purchase of vaccines and anti-covid-19 drugs in the current pandemic, by allowing countries to purchase sufficient quantities as a group, rather than separately, but only to do so if they see fit.
Current gas storage levels in the EU are just above 75%, a percentage that is still lower than the average over the last 10 years, which is around 90%.
However, not all Member States have gas storage facilities and use them differently.
Among those that do, Portugal is one of the countries with the lowest capacity and the lowest levels of gas storage, according to data from Brussels: it can store 1.89 terawatt-hours and has reserves of about half.
“The Commission will also explore the possible benefits of the joint acquisition of gas reserves by regulated entities or national authorities to allow the grouping of forces and the creation of strategic reserves”, says the communication, which emphasizes that “participation in the scheme of joint purchases would be voluntary and the scheme should be structured in such a way as not to interfere with the functioning of the internal energy market and to respect competition rules”.
In addition to this action, the institution “intends to soon adopt a delegated act that creates new cross-border regional gas risk groups”, the document indicates.
In the information released to the press, the community executive points out that “there is a general consensus that the current model of marginal prices is the most efficient, but a deeper analysis is needed, [já que] the crisis has also highlighted the importance of storage for the functioning of the EU gas market”.
Also with regard to storage, the European Commission then suggests a “revision of the regulation of security of supply to ensure better use and operation”, as well as the creation of “new cross-border regional gas risk groups”.
And stressing that “clean energy is the best insurance against price shocks in the future”, Brussels wants to intensify investments in renewable sources, develop storage capacity to increase the share of alternative energies such as batteries and hydrogen and even European regulators study the current design of the electricity market.
The institution also advocates strengthening the role of consumers in the energy market, “enabling them to choose and change their supplier, generate their own electricity and join energy communities”.
Next December, the community executive will present a package of initiatives on the energy sector, admitting to intervene in relation to the acquisition and storage of gas, in order to reinforce the EU’s reserves.