Europe —Due to the ongoing war in Ukraine, European nations have seen an energy crisis, and many are trying to reduce its dependence on Russian fossil fuels. As a result, the European Commission released its “REPowerEU” plan to make Europe independent from Russian fossil fuels well before 2030.
The REPowerEU plan sets out a series of measures to rapidly reduce dependence on Russian fossil fuels and fast forward the green transition while increasing the resilience of the EU-wide energy system.
From this announcement, countries like Italy and Spain have followed up with its intentions to limit air conditioning (AC) use due to runaway fuel inflation.
“We do not want to depend on Russian gas any longer, because economic dependence must not become political subjection. Diversification is possible and can be implemented in a relatively short amount of time – quicker than we imagined just a month ago,” said Italian prime minister Mario Draghi.
Earlier in March, the Italian government revealed its “Operation Thermostat” plan, which aims to save 4 billion cubic metres of gas in 2022 by cutting the use of ACs. The plan limits AC operation to 25 ºC in all public buildings, including schools and other public buildings except for hospitals.
The regulation will be based on the weighted average of the air temperatures measured in the individual rooms of each building for winter and summer. It states that the temperature must not be lower than 27ºC in summer but allows a minus 2ºC tolerance, or higher than 19ºC in winter, with a plus 2ºC tolerance.
Operation Thermostat is just another move made by the Italian government to find new energy sources. Previously, Italy announced its plan to stop buying gas from Russia, which accounted for around 40 per cent of Italys 95 per cent total gas imports. As a result, Italy stuck a deal with Angola to increase gas supplies.
Operation Thermostat will be in place by March 31, 2023, and failure to comply will result in fines totalling between €500 ($526.73) to €3,000 ($3,160.35).
Keeping in line with the REPowerEU plan, Spain also announced it passed a decree that will limit AC use in public buildings.
“Even though Spain is one of the European Union countries with the lowest exposure to Russian energy, it is obvious we are not immune to rising energy prices,” said Maria Jesus Montero, budget minister of the Spanish Socialist Workers Party.
Spain’s plan will see that AC premises will be limited to a temperature of 27ºC in the summer cooling and 19ºC when heating is needed.
Spain’s decree also includes greater use of working from home for civil servants, increased use of energy-efficient lighting and mass installation of solar panels on the roofs of public buildings.