Germany will have to boost the use of coal for electricity production to make up for the shortage of natural gas from Russia, Economy Minister Robert Habeck said in a policy paper released on Sunday and cited by Deutsche Welle.
“To reduce gas consumption, less gas must be used to generate electricity. Coal-fired power plants will have to be used more instead,” the minister said in the paper. He deplored the need to use more coal to produce electricity, as Germany, along with other EU states, has been taking steps to curtail use of the ‘dirty fuel’ and move towards green energy, but, according to Habeck, the current situation is too serious to be picky.
“That’s bitter, but it's simply necessary in this situation to lower gas usage,” he said. Berlin has been eager to make energy production in the country coal-free by 2030, but under the circumstances this goal may have to be changed.
The minister also noted that more gas should be brought into storage facilities, or “it will be really tight in winter.”
Gas storage facilities in Germany are around 57% full at the moment, according to the German media, citing the Federal Network Agency. Meanwhile, according to the paper, the German Ministry of Economy is working on a new regulation to establish a “gas replacement reserve” by upgrading power plants to be turned into storage sites. Several other mechanisms are in the works, including a gas auction and a loan worth €15 billion ($15.74 billion) for the purchase of additional gas.
The minister’s statements follow a decision by Russia’s Gazprom to cut natural gas deliveries to Germany via the Nord Stream pipeline by 60% after German maintenance provider Siemens failed to return pumping units after repairs due to sanctions.
Habeck, however, slammed this decision as political and linked to tensions between Russia and the West over Moscow’s military operation in Ukraine.
“It is obviously [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s strategy … to drive the [energy] prices up and divide us,” he said in a separate statement to media last week.
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