Energy saving: measures taken to reduce consumption in Belgium, Greece and Spain

Energy saving: measures taken to reduce consumption in Belgium, Greece and Spain

Faced with the climate emergency and the rise in energy prices due to the war in Ukraine, the countries of the European Union are preparing to save and reduce their consumption for the winter.

In Belgium, the government wants to support the most precarious

The Belgian federal government for the first time initiated measures targeting less wealthy households, notably a reduction in VAT on gas and electricity. The latter has been capped at 6% since April. A cap that has been renewed. There is also a social tariff for domestic energy for the most vulnerable households. Some taxes on petroleum products have been reduced and limits have been placed on the prices of train tickets. A measure intended in particular to reduce the carbon footprint in a country highly dependent on the car.

Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo says the next five to ten winters will be difficult. An advisory committee meets on Wednesday August 31 to consider new measures with the regions of the kingdom. The government is particularly in favor of capping energy prices, although some argue here that capping gas prices can only scare away potential suppliers. The solution, therefore, can only go through an agreement at the European level, say several ministers, including that of Energy. He supports the idea of ​​decoupling put forward by France ten months ago and believes that energy prices should not be aligned with the price of gas, because electricity is currently produced at lower cost.

Belgium has given up closing its two nuclear power plants as planned. The Netherlands, for its part, decided to triple its capacities. They go from one to three plants in the next few years. The Dutch also took initially symbolic measures, asking to limit showers to five minutes and heating to 19C at home. Structural measures are also put in place, with consumption limits requested from large industrial consumers, with partially mandatory investments in energy saving.

In Greece, the population is aware and is doing its part

Beyond the climate challenge, Greece is three-quarters dependent on Russian gas for heating. The conservative government has launched several operations to save energy. On the one hand, the announced disbursement of an endowment of 640 million euros that could amount to one billion, to isolate the country’s public buildings. This ranges from insulating walls to replacing traditional public lighting with LED lamps powered by mini solar panels. Not forgetting the installation of a dark plastic film on the windows to limit energy loss. This operation, called Electre, aims to save 10% of energy in one year.

The government is also raising awareness among the population, multiplying calls through the media to prohibit the permanent use of air conditioning and that the ambient temperature does not exceed 27°C. For the winter, we ask not to exceed 19°C. This is Operation Thermostat. This summer, Greeks were encouraged to trade in their old, energy-hungry appliances for free with new, more efficient ones. And grants are given to homeowners to insulate their properties. The main thing that deters households is the staggering electricity bills. They often exceed the rent, so the air conditioners run much less than usual. We turn off the lights on the terraces and for hot water we use more and more solar panels.

In Spain an energy saving plan is already in force

The Spanish government voted on its energy saving plan last week, but it is already in force since August 10. No more than 27°C for air conditioning in administrations, shops, cultural establishments, stations, airports. And this winter the heating will not be able to exceed 19°C in these same buildings. Shop windows and lights in public buildings must be turned off at 10 p.m. Air-conditioned buildings have until September 30 to adopt an automatic closing system, with the exception of health centers, schools, hairdressers and public transport. With this energy saving plan in force until November 1, 2023, the fines can range between 60,000 and 100 million euros.

The Spanish government and its allies do not intend to stop there. For example, the Basque nationalist party calls for changing consumption patterns and abandoning fossil fuels. The Catalan separatists ask for a regional fund for companies that must adapt their infrastructures to energy efficiency. This is just the beginning of a long process to reach a law, wanted by the Government and that could come into force before Christmas according to the newspaper The country.

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