Over the last year, the global demand for energy has outstripped the available supply, causing energy prices to soar and numerous industries to struggle to acquire the energy they need to operate.
The ongoing conflict between Ukraine and Russia has massively escalated this situation, since Russia is a top exporter of both natural gas and oil to Europe, fuelling – quite literally – the European economy. The German print industry, in particular, is struggling to cope with reduced supply, as only about 40% of the usual volume of natural gas is currently being imported from Russia, with fears that the level of gas supply available will remain at this low. What’s more, work being done on the Nord Stream pipeline has further compromised supply into the country. As of June, the country raised the gas supply alarm, initiating the second phase of the emergency strategy put in place by the country to prepare for periods of extremely low gas availability.
In light of the crisis, printing press manufacturers Koenig & Bauer have been working to eliminate their dependency on natural gas supplied by Russia, and are set to accomplish this goal by the end of the month. As a result of these efforts, Koenig & Bauer will now rely on a variety of energy sources, including liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), heating oil and district heating “among others”, in an attempt to safeguard against energy market fluctuations and volatile gas prices in the future. As part of this strategy, Koenig & Bauer are also building their own liquefied gas tanks. Moreover, the press company revealed its success in procuring emergency power units that will enable them to continue operations independent of even the most extreme Russian gas shortages.
In the long term, rather than continuing to rely on alternative sources of fossil fuels, the manufacturer is prioritising a shift to sustainable energy – a goal that the company has been working towards since before the energy crisis – in order to meet the business’ energy targets, while simultaneously safeguarding against the volatility of the non-renewable energy market. Similarly, industrial print production company Heidelberg has noted that the business is similarly preparing for further energy shortages, though admits that “business operations would be affected”, as a result of the company’s reliance on gas for both production and heating of their buildings.
Despite the actions European printing manufacturers are taking to protect themselves against possible energy shortages and extortionate gas prices, ultimately not all of this is within their control, as they rely on a host of different suppliers who will – most likely – remain dependent on the natural gas supplied by Russia.