ARCHIV - 29.10.2021, Brandenburg, Peitz: Eine Windenergieanlage steht hinter Hochspannungsmasten von mehreren Stomleitungen. Für Haushalte in Deutschland wird der Strom nach Beobachtungen von Vergleichsportalen deutlich teurer. (zu dpa: "Vergleichsportale: Strom wird deutlich teurer") Foto: Patrick Pleul/dpa-Zentralbild/dpa +++ dpa-Bildfunk +++

Dizzying prices, which are gradually reaching electricity customers as well: The electricity trading markets are being sucked into Putin’s energy crisis maelstrom by the enormously high gas prices. The V-belt that connects the two markets are the gas power plants. They run despite the high costs, because otherwise the demand cannot be met – and they set the price.

Grain wholesale works according to this principle, as does the oil market. The only problem right now is that the costs of the different power sources are not as close as usual. Although gas turbines meet only about a tenth of demand, they drive electricity prices through the roof and bring huge profits to coal-fired power plants and many solar and wind power plants as crisis winners.

is that fair No of course not. The reason is a blatant, problematic exceptional situation. Therefore intervening in the energy market and the trading system, the “merit order”, is risky. In normal times, the market works well and we will still need it. For example, he sets the right investment incentives, also for the construction of renewable energies. And it rewards flexibility in consumption.

But these are not the times for a calm look at the horizon. If the electricity market is now also pulled unhindered into the gas crisis maelstrom, there is a risk of upheaval. Among consumers who are already plagued by heating costs, among industry, but also in energy trading itself. Even the FDP, the most reliable voice in the coalition when it comes to giving free rein to market forces, is now ready to intervene.

However, it won’t be easy. Ideas circulate, models are developed. One possibility would be to cap maximum prices in the electricity market and only reimburse some of the power plants for the costs.

But nothing has been thought through or even legally checked. Nevertheless, a solution must be found within a short period of time that will be accepted in European interaction. That doesn’t set false incentives. For example, consuming more gas than absolutely necessary in the middle of a gas crisis. This can be combined with an excess profit tax, which siphons off extreme returns achieved by chance and without performance and finances social compensation.

Will the traffic light government succeed in assuming the leading role in the EU and at least decoupling the price of electricity from the price of gas to some extent without causing major damage? Then not only a serious problem would be defused. One could even speak of a comeback in crisis management.