German Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Action Robert Habeck called this a “mistake” by previous administrations and now the country faces the immediate challenge of getting enough fuel to avoid blackouts over the winter.
However, in the long term, Germany will have to conclude multiple new energy partnerships and achieve energy independence by investing in renewable energy.
HIT BY THE ENERGY CRISIS
A large net importer of energy with 70 percent coming from fossil fuel and uranium imports, Germany was hit particularly hard by the energy crisis in Europe. As of early 2022, Russia was still providing Germany with more than half of its coal and natural gas supplies along with 34 percent of oil supplies.
After Russia’s gas supply to Europe via the crucial Nord Stream 1 pipeline was already cut off in early September, both Nord Stream 1 and 2 were damaged and rendered inoperable by a series of explosions that caused gas leaks. underwater at the end of September 2022.
Due to the “increased uncertainty amid the current situation”, Germany’s largest energy provider E.ON further reduced the value of its stake in Nord Stream 1. The company’s 15.5 percent stake it was devalued to only 100 million euros (103 million US dollars). ), below 500 million euros at the end of June.
Having declared the ‘Level 2: Alert Level’ of the gas emergency plan, the Bundesnetzagentur (BNetzA), the German regulatory office responsible for electricity and gas, has been busy safeguarding pre-winter gas supplies and storages. now they are full.
As part of energy-saving measures, minimum room temperatures have been lowered, monuments are no longer lit, and the country’s million private pools and jacuzzis will have to remain unheated during the winter. The BNetzA stressed the need to reduce consumption by at least 20 percent.
Before this energy brinkmanship came into play, Germany had a stated goal of phasing out coal-fired power plants by 2030 and decommissioning all nuclear plants by the end of 2022. However, the government had to do a U-turn in nuclear power and coal. -fired power plants to protect your power supplies and address an immediate shortfall.
After internal disputes within the governing coalition, Chancellor Olaf Scholz intervened and allowed the three German nuclear plants to continue generating electricity through the winter until April 15, 2023.
While there have been short-term successes in gas storage, Germany is looking elsewhere to shore up gas supplies to end its energy dependency. To diversify imports, Habeck quickly began gas supply talks with Norway, Canada and the United States.
Germany has also signaled its interest in discussing a natural gas pact with the United Kingdom (UK) with a view to including a mutual bailout clause in case of shortages during an extreme cold snap. The UK’s long coastline is a “geographical advantage when it comes to infrastructure for importing liquefied natural gas (LNG),” BNetzA boss Klaus Mueller recently told The Guardian.
The extension of the useful life of nuclear and coal power plants could be seen as a setback for Germany’s environmental plans. Habeck, however, now sees an accelerated expansion of renewable energy capacity as a vital tool for achieving energy independence and climate protection.
As the share of renewable energy increases, Germany will reduce its need to import energy. The government aims to cover all of the country’s electricity needs with renewable energy by 2035, five years ahead of the original target. Already by 2030, the share of wind and solar power will roughly double from current levels to 80 percent.
All these plans, however, are of little help today.
Although gas storage facilities are now full and Germany has security-of-supply agreements throughout the European Union (EU), an extreme cold snap would test the public’s resolve to reduce energy consumption. Blackouts could be avoided, but the supply situation remains “extremely tense,” German power transmission network operator Amprion said.
With the destruction of sections of the Nord Stream oil pipelines, it is clear that the country will not have the option of returning to its historical energy structure. Until renewables are ready, the diversification of energy supplies will become an increasingly pressing issue. (1 euro = 1.03 US dollars) ■