Because of the gas crisis, the Bundestag has cleared the way for using more coal-fired power plants to generate electricity. The aim of this measure is to save and store gas. At the same time, late Thursday evening, MPs decided to ease state aid for ailing energy companies like Uniper. As an option, a pay-as-you-go system can also be created so that price jumps in gas for energy suppliers can be passed on to customers more evenly – as a replacement for the rules that have been possible up to now. However, the Federal Government wants to avoid having to use this instrument.
The amendments to the law passed by the Bundestag are to be passed by the Bundesrat on Friday. They are a reaction to the severe throttling of Russian gas supplies through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline. In order to save gas, less gas is now to be used to produce electricity. Instead, coal-fired power plants are to be used, which are currently only available to a limited extent, are about to be shut down or are in reserve.
The Federal Ministry of Economics had already announced that it would prepare the necessary ministerial regulation at the same time in order to set the so-called gas replacement reserve in motion. “We will call up the gas replacement reserve as soon as the law comes into force,” Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) announced.
“That means – you have to be honest – then more coal-fired power plants for a transitional period. That’s bitter, but in this situation it’s almost necessary to reduce gas consumption. We must and we will do everything we can to store as much gas as possible in summer and autumn,” said Habeck. The gas storage tanks should be full by winter. That has top priority.
The throttling of Russian gas supplies by Nord Stream 1 caused Germany’s largest importer of Russian natural gas, Uniper, to experience turbulence and called for state aid. Negotiations with the federal government are currently underway. The legal changes are intended to make it easier for the federal government to get involved with energy suppliers. The problems in the gas market could get worse. Annual maintenance work on Nord Stream 1, which usually lasts ten days, begins on July 11. The big concern is that Russia won’t turn on the gas tap again after the maintenance.
Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz does not currently see a gas shortage in Germany, as he said on Thursday evening on the ZDF program “Maybrit Illner”. It was also “not certain” that this would happen. “It would just be completely irresponsible not to consider them as a possibility and to prepare for them,” emphasized the SPD politician. In the event that it occurs, prepare for the prioritized energy distribution, for example.
The Bundestag resolutions met with support from the Federation of German Industries (BDI). The decision to temporarily take coal-fired power plants out of the reserve came late, but was right, said BDI President Siegfried Russwurm of the German Press Agency. The state support for energy suppliers is also correct. “The federal government has recognized the seriousness of the gas supply situation,” praised Russwurm.
The German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA) also spoke of important measures: “The triad of direct aid for gas suppliers in need, preventive measures to reduce gas consumption and additional instruments for crisis management is the right approach,” explained VDA President Hildegard Müller.