Putin closes the gas tap – Germany is threatened with recession



Germany is threatened by an energy deficit because of Putin – Habeck: “It can get worse than the pandemic”

Turbulent times are coming to Germany. The country wants to get out of coal, oil and nuclear. But right now Putin is turning off the gas tap. And now?

This is what Wilhelmshaven will look like in the future: A ship (left) brings the liquefied gas to the North Sea coast, where it is processed in a floating LNG terminal (right) and from there fed into an onshore pipeline .

Photo: BOTAS/MOL/zvg

The wind whistles from the roof of the disused coal-fired power station of the energy company Uniper. Asset manager Holger Kreetz made the additional move from the group’s Düsseldorf headquarters to the North Sea this Monday from early summer to mid-June to show journalists where the new terminal will one day be located. liquid gas. He points to the North Sea, where there’s not much to see except a large container ship and a port facility. But over the next few weeks and months stakes will be driven into the lake bed and a pipeline will be laid to transport liquefied gas from Germany’s first LNG terminal to the power plant. “The advantage of liquid gas is that you can choose the producers,” enthuses Kreetz. Here, on the outskirts of the Lower Saxony coastal town of Wilhelmshaven, the liquefied gas, which has been cooled to minus 170 degrees, is to be shipped to the coast by ships from the USA and Qatar and converted into energy for end of the year. Kretz:

Holger Kreetz.

“We are making ourselves independent of suppliers like Russia.”

The liquid gas is intended to help fill the impending energy deficit in Germany. The country has become very dependent on Russian energy and is now paying a high price for it. Putin closes the gas tap for frivolous reasons, and only 40% of the usual amount of gas passes through the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline in the Baltic Sea. The federal government in Berlin is still anticipating the worst-case scenario, which means that soon no gas will flow from Russia to Germany. The Minister for the Green Economy, Robert Habeck, has been calling on companies and the public for weeks to save energy. Because the gas storage tanks are only 57% full, which is never enough for the winter. Gas prices have exploded in the face of the crisis, rising from 80 euros to 120 euros per megawatt hour last week.

Even Russian oil is barely reaching Europe after the EU decided on an oil embargo against Russia. Greater Berlin is directly dependent on Russian oil, which is processed at the Schwedt refinery in Brandenburg. After all, Germany has significantly reduced its dependence since the outbreak of war in February – on Russian oil from 35% last year to 12% currently, on gas from 55% to 35%. Dependence on coal has fallen from 50 to 8%.

Habeck wants to reactivate coal-fired power plants

The main problem remains the still high gas dependence of Putin’s autocracy. Economics Minister Robert Habeck warned this week on “Industry Day” in Berlin:

“The gas problem may get worse than the corona pandemic. A lot of people don’t realize that.”

If Putin immediately shut off the gas tap, there would be a risk of a recession. Consumer and energy prices have been high for weeks, and the inflation rate of 7.9% is the highest in 50 years. Habeck: “The attack is carried out with energy as a weapon.”

Ironically, the environmental minister now wants to reactivate the old coal-fired power stations so as not to find themselves in an energy shortage. For an interim period until 2024, lignite and coal-fired power plants are again to be used more frequently. The planned exit from coal by 2038 at the latest will not change anything, says Habeck, who would even like to phase out coal by 2030. At equal electricity production, coal produces more than twice as much gas greenhouse effect than natural gas, calculates Die Zeit. The Green Minister knows these arithmetic games. “It’s bitter, but in this situation it is almost necessary to reduce gas consumption,” he said. If you do without it, there is a risk of power cuts in winter. “And then we can be politically blackmailed.”

Of course, Habeck relies mainly on the expansion of renewable energies, their share in the total electricity injection is currently 47%. This alone is not enough to cover energy needs without Russian energy. The Union around CDU leader Friedrich Merz and the FDP around Finance Minister Christian Lindner therefore want to at least postpone a decision from 2011.

Steam rises from the cooling towers of the Jänschwalde lignite power plant in Brandenburg.  The lignite-fired power plant is now expected to stay connected to the grid longer than expected.

Steam rises from the cooling towers of the Jänschwalde lignite power plant in Brandenburg. The lignite-fired power plant is now expected to stay connected to the grid longer than expected.

Keystone/May 2022

At that time, Chancellor Angela Merkel decided to phase out nuclear power. By the end of the year, the three remaining nuclear reactors in Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg and Lower Saxony should effectively be decommissioned. The Union would like to extend the mandate, and the coalition partner in the traffic light government, the FDP, also thinks this makes sense. According to Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP), Germany should not be choosy in the current situation.

“In any case, I am not satisfied that we are expanding climate-damaging coal, but without even considering the possibilities of nuclear energy.”

There is a risk “of a very serious economic crisis due to the sharp rise in energy prices”. The issue has the potential to divide the federal government. Because Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) and Economics Minister Robert Habeck do not see the possibility of extending the mandate. Among other things, because of the missing fuel rods. Habeck also points out the dangers of old nuclear reactors:

“A small contribution to the energy supply would oppose major economic, legal and security risks.”

In Wilhelmshaven, manager Holger Kreetz has meanwhile asked him to come to the meeting room. The only picture hanging on the wall of this somewhat sterile-looking room shows an illustration of the “Rathauser Elektrizitätswerk Luzern”. Kreetz has no answer as to who hung the photo there or who donated it. “It’s been hanging around here for years,” he said, smiling.

“He’s been hanging around here for years” – a greeting from Lucerne in the Uniper factory in Wilhelmshaven.

Christoph Reichmuth/13/06/2022

Regrets that Uniper may have left coal processing too soon here at the end of the year – now that the government is considering reactivating coal-fired power stations – there is none in Wilhelmshaven. On the contrary, Kreetz points out that the place where more than 58 million tons of coal, mainly from Russia, was converted into electricity from 1976 until the end of last year is becoming a model place. for clean energy. Kreetz sees gas as a transition technology. On the contrary, Uniper relies on the green energy of hydrogen. “We rely on hydrogen to prioritize climate protection.” The Wilhelmshaven plant is to be transformed into one of the largest hydrogen sites in Germany. The terminals built today and the liquefied gas line can then be used for the hydrogen plant. Kreetz looks out the window:

“Here we have the North Sea on our doorstep. This is the perfect place for hydrogen.


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