Study by the Hertie School: Germany has clearly exceeded the gas savings targets - for a reason

Private households, industry and power plants in Germany reduced their gas consumption by around a quarter in the second half of 2022.

Study by the Hertie School: Germany has clearly exceeded the gas savings targets - for a reason

Private households, industry and power plants in Germany reduced their gas consumption by around a quarter in the second half of 2022. According to a recent study by the Hertie School's Center for Sustainability, the savings targets set by the Federal Government and the EU Commission were clearly exceeded. In the study published on Friday, however, this is mainly attributed to the high market prices.

Between September and December 2022, the overall decrease was 23 percent compared to the same period of the previous year. In September last year, the savings even amounted to 28 percent. According to the authors, special calculation models exclude the possibility that the reductions in consumption are primarily due to weather or economic influences.

"The fact that Germany has saved almost a quarter of its gas consumption compared to the same period last year is a fundamental change and significantly more than we expected at the beginning of the crisis," explained the first author of the study, Oliver Ruhnau. After the start of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine, the EU called for gas savings of 15 percent and the German government for 20 percent.

According to the study, the actual savings were made with a time lag by sector. In view of rising prices, industry began to save even before the start of the war from September 2021. The most significant reduction was achieved in October 2022 with minus 27 percent. In private households, the savings began in March 2022. The highest values ​​were reached here last September with minus 28 percent.

Overall, the reduction in the period from September 2021 to December 2022 in industry was 24 percent higher than in private households with 12 percent. One reason for this is that private consumers can hardly achieve savings in summer because the heating is switched off anyway.

Another research finding is that gas consumption by industry and private households was primarily influenced by price developments and less by government subsidies. 'Market prices appear to be a powerful way to incentivize gas savings,' explained co-author Lion Hirth. However, there must also be government measures to cushion hardship. "But these should be designed in such a way that the incentives to save gas are maintained."

According to the study, the power plant sector is an exception. Here, gas consumption is mainly dependent on factors within the electricity sector and less on price effects.

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