Federal Economics Minister Robert Habeck is promoting a new shower head, former Federal President Joachim Gauck wants to freeze for freedom, the Greens are proclaiming a speed limit and blacks think nuclear power is great. The discussion about the energy supply is as diverse as the energy market, which functioned according to three specifications until the war: Secure supply at affordable prices with maximum climate compatibility.
This triangle of goals has meanwhile come to a point, as the debate about the Energy Security Act, which will be passed this week, shows. Security of supply has absolute priority.
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The probability that Gazprom will deliver gas in the usual quantities through the Baltic Sea pipeline Nord Stream 1 again in two weeks after the maintenance break is as great as that of a ceasefire initiated by Vladimir Putin.
That’s why the traffic light government is trying to make provisions for the winter, and that’s why the whole country is discussing ways out of the gas trap. The more difficult the situation, the less complex some proposals. Putting on a sweater will not save the German economy.
Germany has an above-average amount of industry and for this reason lives at a high level of prosperity. The substitution of gas is hardly possible in the short term, but a more efficient use. This is shown by the gas consumption in the first five months, which – adjusted for temperature differences – was around ten percent below the previous year.
Almost a third less was consumed in May. The high price thus stimulates savings and creativity among private and commercial customers. For example Henkel: The detergent company asks its employees to stay in their home office after the summer so that they can turn down the heating in the offices.
The energy transition has so far bypassed the heating market. Natural gas heats around half of the apartments in this country. Despite the “heat pump development program” and the “efficient heating network support program”, existing buildings will still need gas for many years to come. The room temperature in winter can therefore be discussed: one degree less reduces the gas requirement for heat by six percent.
For comparison: the extension of the service life of nuclear power plants yields a good one percent on the gas market. Nuclear power plants make sense for climate protection reasons, see the EU taxonomy regulation. In the acute gas crisis, however, nuclear power plants help just as little as a speed limit.
When looking at the effects on the energy market as a whole, different estimates emerge: According to calculations by the Federal Environment Agency, a speed limit of 130 km/h would yield 600 million liters of fuel. And avoid 1.5 million tons of the greenhouse gas CO2.
Like wearing masks to stop the spread of the virus, the speed limit is a quick-acting, low-damage measure. The members of the ADAC think so too: more than half are in favor of a speed limit.
In the crisis summer, the state’s intervention in the gas market to prevent its collapse is at the core of energy security. If the gas suppliers have to buy gas every trading day to replace gas that has not been delivered, the costs overwhelm the companies. See Uniper.
For these cases, the policy introduces a surcharge, with which all gas consumers share in the additional costs. Something like a solidarity crisis tax to keep the system running as a whole. The state, in turn, stretches a protective shield over the threatened gas companies. The taxpayer community and consumers will have to pay, and gas will become even more expensive.
A small consolation for households and businesses: the savings potential for gas is estimated at around 15 percent. We should use this potential quickly – in order to get through the winter with reasonably full storage.