When the cold, which was nicknamed “the troll from Trondheim” in the British media, swept across Britain in December, thousands of heated rooms, so-called warm spaces, became a lifesaver for many.Now available over 3,600 such places listed with the charity Warm Welcome Space. It concerns everything from libraries to other public and private premises. Here, British people who cannot afford to turn on the heating at home can come and thaw out and drink a cup of tea. It may sound excessive in a Western European country, but the British have proven to be extra sensitive to high electricity and gas prices. According to a study from According to the International Monetary Fund, which The Guardian has written about, among others, British households are hit hardest in Western Europe by the energy crisis. According to another study published by the newspaper, three million British households cannot afford to turn on the heating.One more reason the vulnerability is that the country is dependent on gas to heat the houses. The British also have poorly insulated and damp houses. Mold has also become a problem when people cannot afford to heat their houses properly, as reported by Sky News among other things. Great Britain also has the largest class differences in Western Europe, which the IMF notes has an effect. “In Great Britain, many people have old solutions where you buy tokens to start the heat. They are hit hard by gas prices because the houses are mainly heated with gas. There is also a strong connection between the price of gas and the price of electricity in the UK because much of the electricity is produced through gas power, so they are linked,” says Christian Holtz, electricity market analyst at Merlin and Metis. Although the electricity price debate in Sweden is intense, the prices in many other European countries a good bit above the Swedish ones. This is what it looks like in Great Britain, France and Germany, among others, according to a compilation that Merlin and Metis have produced. “In Sweden, the price of electricity is kept down by the fact that our electricity production far exceeds electricity consumption. This is due, among other things, to the fact that we basically have good conditions with the rivers in the north that provide a lot of hydropower, we also have a well-developed nuclear power production and a lot also has to do with the wind power expansion we have seen in the last ten years, it has gone very quickly” , says Christian Holtz.This year is Sweden is Europe’s largest net exporter of electricity, a title that France normally has. The large European countries are more dependent on fossil electricity production, from gas and coal. France has also had unusually poor production in its nuclear power plants during the year. But it is difficult to directly compare electricity prices between countries. Taxes and network fees look different in different countries, which means that what households actually have to pay can vary. According to a compilation that Eurostat has made, which includes different taxes and fees, Danish households paid the most for electricity in the first six months of the year. Sweden ends up exactly on the average among EU countries.Germany and Denmark has high electricity taxes and ranks high on the list, while households in the Netherlands pay only a fraction of what they do in neighboring Belgium. Regardless, prices are sky high in most places. Magnus Thorstensson, electricity market analyst at Energiföretagen, describes the situation in Europe as serious. “We are in the middle of the crisis, it is enough to look at the electricity prices now and compare them with the prices a year ago to see that. That in itself is not strange because we have a full-scale war in Europe, it would be strange if it wasn’t visible,” he says. Already in the fall of 2021, gas prices began to rise as Russia restricted the flow. Ahead of winter, many European countries have nevertheless managed to fill up their gas stocks. According to Magnus Thorstensson, there is currently no obvious risk of major power cuts in Europe, as long as it doesn’t get bitterly cold – the crisis is more about the fact that it will be very expensive.In a library in Suffolk in England, which functions as a warming house, a number of people warm themselves. One of them is Carla Francesca who is there with her two-year-old daughter. The cold has caused mold to spread in their home, something she worries about. “It (the mold) appears everywhere. Behind mouldings, around the windows. I had to move my daughter’s crib because the mold spread from the bed to some of her stuffed animals,” she tells The Guardian and continues: “It would make it easier if we had the heat on for longer periods of time, but it’s so expensive.” However, the experts have already started looking towards next winter. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like it will get much better.” Gas stocks this year are full thanks to Russian imports. Next winter will be the big problem and in the meantime everyone, consumers and companies, are bleeding from these prices,” says Magnus Thorstensson.Also Christian Holtz think that next winter will be tough, but not mainly in Sweden.”This winter is about the whole of Europe being very dependent on gas. Normally, 40 percent of European gas comes from Russia, now the figure is below 10 percent and it is not entirely unlikely that it will go down to zero,” he says. It will take time to resolve that dependence. “Will this or next winter a real wolf winter, it looks really tough, the risk for this year is starting to decrease a little, but next winter we don’t know anything about. The political situation in Europe is also uncertain, there is a great vulnerability. If there is a worse weather situation or some other setback, there are no real margins to handle it,” says Christian Holtz.
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