The industry supports plans by Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) to reduce gas consumption in the face of curtailed Russian deliveries. “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.”
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.
“I don’t want to beat around the bush: it’s a tense, serious situation,” said the Greens politician on Sunday evening on ZDF’s “heute journal”. “It was always clear that we were heavily dependent on gas.”
Habeck was also 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.”
At the moment it is 57 percent – the difference has to be made up through purchases and thrift. If the memory is full, this is enough for about two and a half months – without any further sources. However, it is planned that Germany will continue to purchase gas from abroad in winter – even if there is no more flow from Russia.
It was “a kind of arm wrestling” in which Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin initially had the longer arm. “But that doesn’t mean that we can’t get the stronger arm through exertion,” said Habeck.
In view of the lower Russian gas deliveries, Habeck had announced additional measures to save gas and increase precautions. With regard to the further sharp rise in energy prices, he announced that the federal government would “soon to answer”. “High inflation, driven by fossil fuels, is weighing heavily on the country.”
“We have various options for cushioning these prices,” said Habeck. “But the question of justice naturally arises immediately and will certainly have to be discussed further: How do we keep the companies on the market? What support do we have to give and how do we support households that of course depend on their apartment or house being warm during the heating period, but perhaps cannot easily pay the high prices? We will soon provide answers to that.”
The coalition had so far decided on two relief packages. These include the tank discount and the 9-euro ticket in local and regional transport. Above all, the SPD and the Greens are pushing for further relief.
Union parliamentary group leader Jens Spahn has criticized Habeck’s plans to save gas consumption as too late and insufficient. “It’s true that Robert Habeck is taking this step, jumping over his shadow. Only – he’s too late,” said the CDU politician on Monday in the ARD morning show. The federal government is obviously not well prepared. “If we had already started running more coal-fired power plants and fewer gas-fired power plants in March, the storage tanks would now be ten percent fuller.”
From Spahn’s point of view, Habeck only goes half the way because he no longer runs nuclear power plants. He does not understand that the green climate minister prefers coal-fired power plants to run longer and more than CO2-neutral nuclear power plants, said Spahn.
With a view to resistance from operators of nuclear power plants in the face of high hurdles, the parliamentary group leader said in the Bundestag that energy suppliers were not happy because it meant additional effort. “But we are in a real emergency,” said Spahn. Before citizens are asked to freeze, politicians should examine all other alternatives. “This also includes the longer running of nuclear power plants,” said Spahn. It’s not about questioning the exit.
In the discussion about the energy supply, Habeck also said that he did not believe in natural gas production in Germany through so-called fracking. He therefore rejected an advance by the FDP.
“The debate about fracking is of no use to us at all at this time. It takes years, if you want to do it at all, to develop such deposits,” he said on Sunday.
Fracking uses pressure and chemicals to extract gas or oil from rock layers, which poses environmental hazards. Criticism is also leveled at the liquefaction through strong cooling because, according to environmentalists, this costs up to 25 percent of the energy content of the gas.
The “bridge made of gas” to the world of renewable energies is getting shorter every day, said Habeck. The deposits that could be fracked have not even been tested yet. “There’s no interest in doing that,” Habeck said.
In this respect, it is a debate that leads to a division in society. “We have a clear task: reduce the amount of energy that we consume, at all levels.” In addition, the expansion of renewable energies must be accelerated.
In view of the energy crisis, the FDP wants to put the ban on natural gas production in Germany through so-called fracking to the test. “As scientific studies show, fracking does not cause any relevant environmental damage under modern safety standards,” Torsten Herbst, parliamentary director of the FDP, told the “Welt am Sonntag”.