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Rising energy prices: “We must have the courage to tell the population that we have a big problem”

Summer vacation hasn’t even started yet and we’re already talking about winter and fears of an energy blackout. If the subject has come up regularly in recent years, the war in Ukraine and the tensions with Russia make this hypothesis more true than ever.

Explanations with Damien Ernst, professor at the University of Liège and energy expert. “To understand what is happening, we must take the global context. We know that the war in Ukraine only reinforced an energy crisis that had already been brewing for several months.. For a fortnight, Russia has taken the decision to significantly reduce its gas exports to Germany via the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline. We are talking about 500 terawatt-hours less, and Germany realizes that it will no longer have access to this cheap Russian gas on which part of its economy depends. As a reminder, it was this good relationship and this agreement that led them to phase out nuclear power.

Enough to raise gas prices on the markets and above all to bring back the specter of a blackout for this winter. “Russia has decided to reduce its exports directly, and it is all the stock that Europe wanted to build up during the summer that is being underminedhe says. This enormously aggravates the conflict, which is in fact an energy war, with between Russia and Europe.

And if Germany and France have decided to run coal-fired plants to produce energy, that won’t solve everything. “Already, we no longer think about the climate issue at all when doing this. And then, the price of coal on the markets explodes given the increase in demand. We broke records on the Asian market.

“We have a big problem”

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And Belgium in all this? Because if a giant like Germany goes to a gas supply alert level, there is reason to fear the same thing here, even if our country is not yet on alert. “The Minister of Energy was still fighting a few months ago to replace nuclear power with gas-fired power stations, as was the case in Germany. These policies further weaken the situation. We will have to put our finger on this problem clearly and take some radical decisions. We must have the courage to tell the population that we have a big concern and that this crisis will last for years to come, it is now a certainty. We must think about implementing a rationing strategy. Because each kilowatt saved during the summer will go towards strategic reserves. People must be made aware so that everyone participates in the effort. The only advice I can give today? Consume as little as possible…

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