General

Europe tries to manage energy crisis ahead of winter

Europe is facing a deepening energy crisis, partly because of the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war, as Moscow has suspended the supplies of natural gas in response to economic sanctions by the West.

As a result, European governments are trying to diversify their supplies and introduce measures to reduce demand and save energy.

France

A poll by the French polling institute BVA has found that French President Emmanuel Macron's popularity is down to 36% -- the lowest level since February 2020.

According to the poll, only 36% of French people still have a good opinion of the president -- down seven percentage points compared with the previous month -- while 63% have a poor opinion of him.

French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne also slips further in the poll. Only 41% of French people now say they have a good opinion of her, down 10 points from September.

The reasons for the government's poor scores are the energy crisis, galloping inflation, and bottlenecks at French gas stations.

However, Macron also incurred additional displeasure when, amid the chaos at French gas stations, he congratulated French soccer player Karim Benzema of Real Madrid via Twitter for winning the important Ballon d'Or award, according to the online platform France Live.

The tweet was deemed inappropriate by many internet users, which further damaged Macron's popularity, the report said.

Germany

In response to skyrocketing energy costs, room temperatures in the German city Hanover's student dormitories are to be lowered to 20 degrees Celsius (68 Fahrenheit), local media reported on Friday.

After 10 p.m. local time, only cold showers will be allowed, as the dormitories can no longer absorb the rising energy costs.

Because of the energy crisis and rampant inflation, utility costs in the dormitories are rising, Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland media group reported.

Meals in the university canteens will also become more expensive for students. It is also expected that students will have to pay higher rents.

This hits especially hard the 30% of students who were already classified as "poor" before the energy crisis, according to a recent study by the German Parity Welfare Association.

Students are not only frequently affected by poverty compared to the population as a whole, but also particularly severely, according to the association.

The report about the problems in Hanover is not an isolated case.

Recently, the student association AStA also warned that university students in Frankfurt could face a harsh winter.

The drastic increase in the cost of living is hitting students with full force, the association said in a press release.

It called on the government and local authorities to face up to their responsibility to ensure the "basic needs" of students.

Spain

A newly proposed pipeline connecting Barcelona and Marseille could be operational in “four or five years,” Spain’s Environment Minister Teresa Ribera said on Friday.

On Thursday, Spain, Portugal, and France agreed to leave behind the contentious Midcat pipeline, which would have connected Spain and France through the Pyrenees Mountains.

Spain said the Midcat could have been operational by 2023, but France rejected the proposal.

Speaking to Spanish broadcaster Antena3, Ribera admitted that there were design problems with the Midcat, which has already been partially built.

“A pipeline designed solely to transport natural gas isn’t the same as one built to carry hydrogen,” said Ribera.

The new plan is to create a submarine pipeline that could transport “green hydrogen” from Spain to the European pipeline network. It could also transport natural gas.

The submarine pipeline, however, is “technically complex” and will require significant environmental and safety analysis.

With the new timeline, the newly dubbed BarMar pipeline will be unable to address Europe’s short-term energy supply crunch.

Even so, Ribera said it will be presented as a Project of Common European Interest in the hopes that it will receive EU financing.

“This isn’t just for Spain and France, … other EU countries (also) need the diversified energy supplies,” she said.

Spain is currently home to around 45% of Spain’s liquified natural gas storage capacity, according to public grid operator Enagas.

But the country is also betting big on green hydrogen.

Last year, Spain announced it would invest €1.55 billion ($1.52 billion) in the EU Next Generation Funds over three years. The Spanish energy company Repsol also announced a €2.5 billion investment in the technology.

Source: Anadolu Agency