‘We’ll burn anything to keep people warm’ – Czech official

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Diversifying the country’s gas supply is also necessary, the energy security chief says

Czech Ambassador-at-Large for Energy Security Vaclav Bartuška has promised his country will do everything in its power to generate heat and electricity if gas supplies run low this winter.

“We basically have a repeat of the 1973 oil shock … If there is a gas cut out this winter, we will burn anything we can to keep our people warm and to make electricity,” Bartuška said on Monday, speaking to Brussels-based journalists, as cited by Euractiv. His comments came ahead of the Czech Presidency of the Council of the EU, which begins on July 1st and will last six months.

According to the official, it is still possible to provide the EU with gas before the heating season if European countries sign long-term contracts with LNG suppliers. The European Commission has been uneager to sign them in the past, but, according to Bartuška, the situation has changed.

“You would not hear that from the commissioner a year ago, or half a year ago, or four months ago. There’s a clear understanding on their side that the member states need to survive, the governments need to survive the winter,” he stated.

Bartuška added that, during his country’s EU presidency, the bloc’s main goal will be to fill gas storage facilities with enough supplies in the run-up to the winter heating season. Prague will also focus on promoting joint purchases of gas and intends to fast-forward the implementation of the European Commission’s REPowerEU plan, which is set to reduce the EU’s dependence on Russian gas by two thirds before the end of the year and push the EU’s transition to ‘green’ energy. 

According to the ambassador, the latter move has already been set in motion, and the soaring energy prices and political troubles can actually help the EU achieve its climate targets.

“Many decisions are made by people themselves. Do you think people will buy gas heaters at the moment? Probably not,” he stated, adding that his country has recently seen a “huge increase” in the number of heat pumps and solar collectors installed in the Czech Republic over the past several months.

“The transition will be hard and complicated, but we will win. And the winners will be green technologies. It will just take some time and, five years from now, we will be basically asking why we burned natural gas to make electricity.”

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