Can Hungarian households replace Russian gas?
Such a decision would cause serious problems in Hungary, but Hungarian households have alternatives, said Róbert Szémán, editor of the magazine Víz, Gáz, Fűtéstechnika (Water, Gas, Heating Technology). A Hungarian media asked him about the issue after Russia cut off gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria because Warsaw and Sofia refused to pay rubles for it.
Hungarian gas supply in danger?
Mr Szémán believes that achieving full independence from Russian gas is an unrealistic short-term goal as there is no other source of supply, 24.hu wrote. Hungary’s gas reserves are low in European comparison. On May 1, the load level of commercial stores was only 9.29 pc. Moreover, Hungary used 1/3 of the gas from the Szőreg strategic storage during the winter. Hungary has about 1.3 cubic meters of gas stored, but consumption is 9 cubic meters per year.
Therefore, if the Russians stopped gas deliveries to Hungary, domestic households would face serious challenges. There would be no gas for heating, cooking or hot water supply. Gas is needed to generate electricity, so replacing gas heaters with electric heaters would not be a solution. So no one should invest now in an electric heating system or buy an electric heater.
Gas replacement options are expensive
An instant replacement for gas heating could be solid fuel like wood or coal in homes where there is a fireplace. However, only older stoves can work this way as newer ones need electricity due to the circulation pump. An environmentally friendly solution can be pellet stoves.
Apartments with central heating system are in the worst position. If they switch to electric heating, the system will collapse because there are no chimneys. Therefore, they can only heat their apartments with solid fuel and run the stovepipe through the wall.
Those considering becoming independent from the central heating system should invest in a heat pump. It’s expensive; the device costs 1.7-1.8 million HUF (4477-4740 EUR) while the installation of the system costs 2.5-3 million HUF (6584-7900 EUR). In contrast, heat pumps only operate above minus 5°C. Below -10°C, compromises have to be made, especially as their power consumption increases.
Here is the best solution
Heat pumps combined with solar panels are the best solution, but they add another 2 million HUF (5267 EUR) to the expenses. In addition, an insulation program would also be necessary in this case. Additionally, producers cannot manufacture an infinite number of solar panels and heat pumps, so high demand would likely lead to shortages.
Infrapanels or electric boilers can work well in some homes. However, they are not a solution for everyone and they are not as efficient as heat pumps. Mr Szémán said air conditioners with heating functions could also provide solutions above -10 degrees Celsius. Moreover, these devices are the cheapest among all the other options. Another factor is that non-renewable electric heaters will make heating more expensive than renewables (eg heat pumps). Mr Szémán thinks Hungarians should install solar panels with batteries and heat pumps. As a result, we could produce our own energy.