AMSTERDAM, Netherlands: Amidst Europe's response to Moscow's invasion of Ukraine and subsequent reduction of the deliveries of Russian gas, Germany, Italy, Austria and the Netherlands have hinted that coal-fired power plants could help see the continent through the crisis, which has caused a surge in gas prices and further intensified increases in inflation.
This week, the Dutch government said it will activate the first phase of an energy crisis plan, which includes removing a production cap at the country's coal-fired energy plants.
Due to the uncertainty of Russian supplies, Denmark has also enacted the first step in an emergency gas plan, while Italy moved closer to declaring a state of alert in energy, after oil company Eni said Russia's Gazprom told it that it would receive only part of its allocated gas supplies.
Germany said it could restart coal-fired power plants that it had aimed to phase out, and announced its latest plan to increase gas storage levels.
"That is painful, but it is a sheer necessity in this situation to reduce gas consumption. But if we do not do it, then we run the risk that the storage facilities will not be full enough at the end of the year towards the winter season," said German Economy Minister Robert Habeck.
Also this week, Austria's government agreed with utility Verbund to convert a gas-fired power plant to coal should the country face an energy emergency.
Last week, citing the delayed return of equipment being serviced by Germany's Siemens Energy in Canada, Russia's state-controlled Gazprom cut capacity along the Nord Stream 1 pipeline.
"We have gas, it is ready to be delivered, but the Europeans must give back the equipment, which should be repaired under their obligations," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
German and Italian officials have said Russia was using this as an excuse to reduce supplies.
Meanwhile, Russia again blamed Europe for the energy crisis, after the West imposed sanctions in response to Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.