As queries for "firewood" have exploded on Google in Germany, and Deutsche Bank predicting that "wood will be used for heating purposes where possible," German officials are now warning of extreme energy rationing measures, along with the potential for "extremists" to fuel national unrest over the deteriorating situation.
For starters, German Economy Minister and Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck - who previously called on residents to cut back on heating, visits to the sauna, and showers - announced on Friday that public buildings across the country won't be allowed to set heating above 19 degrees Celsius (66.2F) this fall. Exceptions will be made for hospitals and 'social facilities.'
In an interview with Suddeutsche Zeitung, one of the country's largest daily newspapers, Habeck said that the new regulations would be part of the Energy Security Act - adding to previously announced bans on heating private pools.
In addition, buildings and monuments will not longer be lit at night, and there will be curbs on illuminated advertising - while "more savings are also needed in the work environment," he added.
Habeck's announcement comes just days after the head of Germany's grid regulator, Klaus Mueller, said that German families would need to cut 20% of their normal energy consumption in order to avoid gas shortages by December.
"If we don't save a lot and get extra fuel, we will have a problem," he told Welt am Sonntag in an interview last week.
The situation has been brewing, as the bloc's reliance on Russian energy comes into conflict with sanctions over Russia's war in Ukraine - causing prices to skyrocket amid a decrease in Russian natural gas supplies to Europe.
Meanwhile, German officials are preparing for civil unrest.
In an interview with ZDF, Stephan Kramer - who heads the domestic intelligence service in the German state of Thuringia - warned that 'legitimate' protests over the energy crisis could be 'hijacked by extremists' (and definitely not just enraged average citizens).
Kramer said that officials were bracing for protests over "gas shortages, energy problems, supply difficulties, possible recession, unemployment, but also the growing poverty right up to the middle class," adding that "extremists" which include "lateral thinkers" who rallied against pandemic lockdowns, and 'right-wing activists' who have been stirring the post over social media, could be at the heart of them.
"We're likely to be confronted with mass protests and riots," he continued. "We’re dealing with a highly emotionalized, aggressive, future-pessimistic mood in society, whose trust in the state, its institutions and political actors is fraught with massive doubts."
"This highly emotional and explosive mood could easily escalate," the security chief continued, adding that the Covid-19 clashes would "probably feel more like a children's birthday party" by comparison.
Kramer offers a warning to would-be participants: "think carefully about which protests and demonstrations you join, or better stay away from them altogether, so as not to support the enemies of democracy."