This statement set off the alarm sirens in Bavaria: According to the Green Energy Minister Leonore Gewessler, Austria will connect all of its gas storage facilities on Austrian territory to its network – including the one in Haidach near Salzburg. This represents a curiosity that has received little attention up to now, because it is currently only connected to the German gas network and intended for the German market, even if it is located in Austria.
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Above all, Bavarian private customers and the economy in the Free State are supplied from Haidach. It is the second largest gas storage facility in Europe, which can hold 2.9 billion cubic meters. The problem: it is majority owned by the Russian Gazprom group. And it remains largely empty, with Russia not filling up.
Bavaria’s Economics Minister Hubert Aiwanger (Free Voters) reacted calmly on Monday on Bayerischer Rundfunk (BR): It is understandable that Austria also wants to have access to the storage facility. Europe-wide everyone is in the same boat when it comes to gas supply and have to support each other.
It doesn’t always sound like that from the Bavarian state government. Prime Minister Markus Söder (CSU) repeatedly expresses the fear that Bavaria could be disadvantaged by the federal government and the traffic light coalition in the energy crisis. “If the Bavarian economy has a problem,” said Söder, “then Germany has a problem.”
Difficult to say what is justified criticism and what is early state election campaign. For Söder, the vote in autumn 2023 is about his political existence. His story, which he continues to write, is: Berlin ignores Bavaria, Bavaria has no place in the traffic light government and no advocates.
Detlef Fischer from the Bavarian Energy and Water Industry Association does not consider the situation to be quite as dramatic. In an interview with the Tagesspiegel, he expresses the hope “that the gas storage tanks will be properly filled”. He considers the power shortage to be the bigger problem and expects a “power shortage in winter”.
Fischer points out that gas is still used to produce electricity. For the German market, but also for France, because the nuclear power plants there are in a dilapidated condition or have been shut down and therefore produce less electricity.
Bavaria, on the other hand, is primarily affected by the problem that the large power lines from north to south do not yet exist. They are intended to transport wind power from the north and power from east German coal-fired power plants to the south. So if things are going badly, there is not enough electricity from the north, and in the east in Haidach Austria taps off the gas intended for the Free State because it has too little itself. It is likely that in the crisis, European solidarity will take a back seat and everyone will look to themselves first and foremost. Söder demonstrates this with sayings like “Bayern first”.
The Bavarian opposition has long been hammering at the state government for sleeping on renewable energies and actually abolishing the expansion of wind power. Now the SPD parliamentary group leader Florian von Brunn is demanding “5000 and not just 500 new wind turbines”. That does little to avert the current crisis.
“You can’t expand renewable energies for this in the short term,” says Fischer. He demands that all quick opportunities now be exploited in order to be able to produce more electricity. For him, this includes generating more electricity from coal and maintaining the nuclear power plants. The Bavarian state government also wants to let the Isar 2 kiln near Landshut run longer.