Germany is looking for a gas pedal for green energy
Switch to clean
Even before Fukushima and the dispute over Nord Stream, several cities across Germany had started converting to clean energy, also because of another crisis that was uncomfortably close to national borders – the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster in Ukraine.
The Black Forest city of Freiburg has vowed to use 100 percent renewable energies and to achieve CO2 neutrality by 2035. The German Institute for Economic Research (DIW) in Berlin argued three years ago that this was not necessary for additional infrastructure for natural gas.
In an expert opinion, the DIW sees the rapid advances in renewable energies and storage technologies in such a way that “fossil natural gas will no longer have any significance as a bridging technology in the electricity industry”.
The German climate protection targets have been tightened and further measures are likely, said Jens Hobohm, head of the energy industry at the Prognos advisory group.
“If had known this before the Nord Stream project, the likely conclusion would have been that the pipeline was not needed,” said Hobohm, who sees declining gas demand in Europe in the coming years.
The north-eastern coastal state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, the country’s first port of call for Russian natural gas, sees it differently.
“The pipeline is important for the energy supply throughout Germany,” said Prime Minister Manuela Schwesig.
Flexible gas-fired power plants could ensure energy security if wind and sun couldn’t generate enough electricity, argues the state. There is also the risk that the nuclear and coal phase-out will result in supply gaps.
Germany hopes to come to next month’s climate summit in Glasgow as a model state in the fight against global warming. Germany’s highest court, the Federal Constitutional Court, ruled in April that Berlin must set clearer climate targets to reduce emissions in order to reduce net carbon emissions to almost zero by 2050.
According to the Federal Association of Energy and Water Management (BDEW), around 43 percent of German electricity consumption has so far been from renewable energies this year. Gas is around 16 percent.
But under Merkels energy transition – largely supported by the new government – the alternative energy sources are to be increased to 65 percent of the national electricity grid by 2030, with the country’s nuclear reactors to be dismantled by next year.
Greenhouse gas emissions are also expected to fall by 55 percent by 2030 compared to 1990 levels. Berlin has already set intermediate goals for the respective branches of industry. the energy transition, but also a high price – around 32 billion euros by 2025.
Kerstin Andreae, chairwoman of the BDEW, says Berlin needs to make more efforts to ensure the success of the energy transition.
“The energy transition must be at the top of the to-do list of the new federal government,” said Andreae. “Above all, this means more speed in the expansion of renewable energies, especially onshore wind energy.”