In the first year of it's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Moscow tried to capitalize on concerns that energy would become scarce in Europe during the cold winter months. The Russians even made a short video to feed these fears, featuring tales of how Germans would freeze without supplies from Russia's Gazprom.
The Russian state-owned company halted all gas deliveries to Germany in late August 2022. But now, according to a recent study commissioned by the German Association of Energy and Water Industries (BDEW), only 14% of Germans surveyed believe the upcoming winter could bring supply shortages.
This autumn, 64% of Germans believe they will get through the winter without any major problems — even if the supply situation remains patchy. In fact, 18% believe the situation is quite comfortable and are convinced that Germany will get through the winter without any problems at all. Only 4% were indecisive.
That means "four out of five participants surveyed believed Germany was well prepared for the upcoming winter," the BDEW reported.
"Thanks to the good cooperation between the energy industry and politicians on the issue of supply security over the past year-and-a-half, we can now be relatively optimistic about the supply situation this winter," said BDEW managing director Kerstin Andreae.
Klaus Müller, president of the Federal Network Agency (BNetzA), the German regulatory office for electricity, gas and telecommunications, also said the country is in a much better position going into this winter. He noted that German gas storage facilities were full by November 5, and that gas imports were stable.
Müller's rosy forecasts are based on six new scenarios modeling Germany's gas supplies over the coming months. BNetzA presented these models in early November, and only two of the scenarios are any cause for alarm.
Germans should 'continue to think carefully' about energy consumption
If the winter remains moderately cold, then BnetzA believes there's little threat of tight supplies. But this could change if temperatures drop significantly, as they did during the winter of 2012.
Another challenge might be if Russia completely cuts off gas deliveries to Europe via Ukraine later this month. This would force Germany, which currently holds the EU's largest gas storage capacities, to increase gas exports to Austria and southeast Europe.
A final problem foreseen by BnetzA is if Germany is unable to import enough liquefied natural gas through terminals in Belgium and the Netherlands. That would be the case if domestic consumption in these neighboring nations increases due to lower temperatures.
Still, Müller did recommend that Germans remain frugal with their energy use. "No one should be too cold, but we ask people to continue to think carefully about how they can reduce their consumption," he said. Using less gas would also save money, he added. The average German household saved about €440 ($472) by using less gas between October 2022 and September 2023.
To sum up: if Germany does run low on gas this winter, it won't be until February. But for that to happen, several other things will have to happen simultaneously.
First, the upcoming winter would have to be particularly cold. Second, homes and industries would maintain a high consumption rate. Third, Russia would halt gas deliveries via Ukraine in November. Fourth, Germany would be forced to export considerable amounts from its storage facilities to southern Europe. And fifth, gas imports from Belgian and Dutch gas terminals would decline considerably.
Of course, such a scenario cannot be ruled out. But experts have said it's highly unlikely that all of these things happen at once.
This article was originally written in German.
While you're here: Every Tuesday, DW editors round up what is happening in German politics and society. You can sign up here for the weekly email newsletter Berlin Briefing.