European banks have conducted stress tests complete with backup generators and dimmed lights to determine whether their operations will be impacted by energy rationing, according to a Wednesday report from Reuters.
The move comes after Russia cut off natural gas shipments through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline until Western powers roll back sanctions on the nation’s petroleum products. As the European Union scrambles to address energy shortages while natural gas prices increase more than tenfold compared to normal levels, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced on Wednesday that her government would propose a “mandatory target” for reducing electricity consumption during peak demand.
Leading banks, many of which facilitate transactions crucial to the European economy, are therefore conducting stress tests to determine the possible impact of rationed power supplies.
One person familiar with operations at JPMorgan Chase, which employs thousands in London and Frankfurt, told Reuters that the company has carried out power outage simulations and could use diesel generators to keep offices running for multiple days.
Another source told the outlet that UniCredit, the second-largest bank in Italy, tested the resilience of its data processing amid low power supplies. Meanwhile, Euronext — which runs the Italian and French stock exchanges — said it had re-evaluated its energy consumption and possesses backup generators. Swiss company Zurich Insurance Group is darkening offices and turning off “decorative power consumers,” such as fountains.
Deutsche Bank is likewise switching off hot running water in bathrooms, adjusting workplace temperatures, powering down interior branch lighting and illuminated outdoor advertising at night, and shuttering the fountain outside its office in Frankfurt.
“Additional measures that can be taken should the energy situation worsen include using only certain floors of the buildings, and the shutdown of certain services such as the employee gym,” the insurer told Reuters.
Several nations have already implemented energy usage restrictions or warned that such policies could be necessary for the coming months. While the legislature of Spain mandated that public air conditioning be set no lower than 27 degrees Celsius — roughly 80.6 degrees Fahrenheit — through the summer, French President Emmanuel Macron called for a 10% voluntary reduction in the nation’s power usage to avoid “last resort” consumption limits.
British Prime Minister Liz Truss, who succeeded fellow Conservative Party lawmaker Boris Johnson on Tuesday, is proposing stimulus packages for companies and businesses contending with high power expenses. “We will get spades in the ground to make sure people are not facing unaffordable energy bills. … I will deal hands-on with the energy crisis caused by Putin’s war,” Truss remarked in her first speech as head of government. “I will take action this week to deal with energy bills and to secure our future energy supply.”
The European Union has adopted the official policy of becoming “a climate-neutral society” by 2050 in accordance with the European Green Deal and the Paris Agreement. Although some critics have pointed to the continent’s rapid transition toward renewable energy as a factor behind low power supplies, von der Leyen — acknowledging that hydroelectric capacity has severely diminished amid drought conditions — called for “massive investments” into green power sources.
“The renewables are cheap, they are home-grown, they make us independent,” she said. “The renewables are really our energy insurance for the future.”