The industry supports plans by Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) to reduce gas consumption in view of the throttling of Russian gas supplies. “We have to reduce gas consumption as much as possible, every kilowatt hour counts,” said Industry President Siegfried Russwurm of the German Press Agency: “The priority must be to fill the gas storage tanks for the coming winter.”
The head of the Federal Network Agency, Klaus Müller, told the “Tagesspiegel” about the plan to temporarily rely more on coal-fired power plants for electricity generation, that this was not an easy decision in terms of climate policy: “But it is necessary to reduce gas consumption in power generation.”
Habeck wants to take additional measures to save gas and increase precaution. He described the situation as serious. To counteract this, the use of gas for power generation and industry is to be reduced, and more coal-fired power plants are to be used. They are intended to replace electricity generation in power plants fired with natural gas as far as possible. The filling of the gas storage tanks is to be promoted.
In the ZDF “heute journal” Habeck was confident that the supply could be secured for the coming winter. “It is crucial that the gas storage tanks are full by winter – and that they are 90 percent.” The current figure is 57 percent. It was “a kind of arm wrestling” in which Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin initially had the longer arm. “But that doesn’t mean we can’t get the stronger arm through exertion,” Habeck said.
Sootworm for bridging with coal
Russwurm said that Germany had to open up as many other sources as possible. Companies would have to switch to oil, for example, where that could be done. “But a number of industrial processes only work with gas. A gas shortage threatens to bring production to a standstill,” said the President of the Federation of German Industries.
Gas generation had to be stopped and coal-fired power plants had to be pulled from the reserve immediately, Russwurm affirmed. “Currently it is about short-term bridging measures to secure the energy supply, not about a date for the coal phase-out in 2038 or 2030.”
Renewable energies would have to be massively accelerated. “Germany must finally say goodbye to paralyzing small-small debates and blockade attitudes and off the brakes on the expansion of renewables.” Politicians and administration must switch on the turbo as soon as possible for the designation of new areas for wind and solar power plants and for faster approvals.
Support also comes from the chemical industry
“Germany must now quickly and pragmatically use all opportunities to save gas where it can be replaced,” explained Wolfgang Große Entrup, Managing Director of the Chemical Industry Association. The association supports the measures presented by Habeck. Especially when switching from gas to coal, all capacities must be able to be used immediately without distinction.
Große Entrup welcomed the gas auction model announced by Habeck to save on industrial gas as a market-based instrument. With a share of 15 percent, the chemical industry is the largest consumer of natural gas in Germany.
Ingbert Liebing, general manager of the municipal utility association VKU, explained that it was absolutely right to react quickly to the dynamic situation and, if necessary, to take emergency measures. “Above all, a return of coal-fired power plants to the electricity market is expedient. This can already make a decisive contribution to reducing gas consumption.” However, the VKU warns against a “blanket ban” on gas-fired power generation or fines. Liebing also called for state aid not only for energy exchange trading, but also for public utilities.
Medium-sized companies take a critical view of projects
President Karl Haeusgen said on behalf of the VDMA mechanical engineering association: “We are approaching a very difficult situation.” That is why Habeck’s plans to organize lower gas consumption are right.” The VDMA particularly supports the plan to reduce gas consumption in industry to encourage tenders. “This directs the reduction to where the least damage is done.”
On the other hand, the possible intervention in power generation is effective but very sensitive. “In the short term, more coal-fired electricity from reserve power plants can help, but we must not lose sight of the climate transformation goals.”
Small and medium-sized companies, on the other hand, see the plans critically. “In view of the reduced Russian gas deliveries, there is increasing concern among SMEs that they will lose out in terms of energy supply between the warm living rooms of private consumers and the raw material requirements of large-scale industry,” said Markus Jerger, Managing Director of the Federal Association of Small and Medium-Sized Businesses (BVMW). Editorial Network Germany (RND). Habeck’s plan to distribute gas via auctions could mean that small and medium-sized companies can no longer keep up with the bidding.
Energy industry: More electricity from coal possible
According to estimates by the Federal Association of Energy and Water Industries (BDEW), it is possible to increasingly generate electricity with coal instead of grass-fired power plants. Lignite-fired power plants could be started up again to generate electricity “in a foreseeable period of time,” said the CEO, Kerstin Andreae, on Monday in the ARD “Morgenmagazin”.
That would also work with coal-fired power plants, said Andreae, but enough coal would have to be available for this. “The step is right that we take gas out of power generation and substitute it with coal.” However, the higher CO2 emissions are a “significant problem,” explained Andreae. She suggested saving CO2 elsewhere through European emissions trading.
Regarding the Union’s proposal to let nuclear power plants run longer, she said that the operators themselves feared “considerable organisational, personnel and technical consequences” in such a case. “But we are also experiencing a discussion that everything really needs to be discussed” in order to reduce dependence on Russian gas.
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