The Ukraine war is currently having a negative impact on us in terms of the price development of commodities such as gas and oil. This has highlighted the price of Germany’s dependence on countries like Russia. However, as the war progresses, policymakers may be forced to continue to refrain from supplying energy sources from Russia in the future. In order to nevertheless ensure security of supply, it would also be necessary to think about extending the power supply using coal-fired power plants in an emergency. This has now been clarified by Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Greens).
Comeback of lignite?
The shutdown of coal-fired power plants was as good as certain. But now comes a statement from, of all people, the German Minister of Economics, Robert Habeck of the Green Party, that it would probably be necessary to prolong the environmentally harmful power supply. The reason for this move is the fact that we are forced to become self-sufficient from Russian energy supplies. According to Habeck, this is the only way to ensure security of supply in the long term. The member of the government expressed his views to this effect on Deutschlandfunk radio. First and foremost, the minister found reassuring words. He said that even a complete supply stop on the part of Russia could be well compensated.
However, he did not say to what extent Germany is prepared for this worst case scenario. In order to improve this for the future, he already announced a corresponding draft law. This provides for an obligation to maintain minimum filling levels for natural gas storage facilities in Germany. He also made it clear that security of supply takes precedence over environmental protection. After all, one of the main goals of the “Jamaica coalition” was to put the coal phase-out into practice as quickly as possible. In an emergency, it would be necessary to talk about building up a certain coal reserve, Habeck now said. This makes it clear that the Ukraine war is also having a direct impact on German energy policy.
Security of supply weighs more than climate protection
Habeck himself is not only economics minister, but federal minister for the economy and climate protection. Climate protection is clearly opposed to active coal-fired power plants, but in an emergency, he said, one has to bite into this sour apple. It is becoming increasingly important to ensure stable security of supply. To achieve this, taboos have to be broken in an emergency. Accordingly, the coal-fired power plants that are already doomed should at least be kept in reserve. Some would even have to remain active for longer. However, he still has the long-standing goal of himself and his party in mind.
For example, he emphasizes that in the future it is essential to rely on the sun and wind as energy sources. This would be a great opportunity for Germany to no longer be dependent on other countries such as Russia. In an interview with Deutschlandfunk, Habeck once again emphasized the advantages of renewable energies. These are not only in climate protection. They also ensure greater independence. Thus he said
“the only thing that belongs to no one is the wind and is the sun.”
Alternatives to Russian gas
With the NordStream 2 gas pipeline on hold for now and its future more than uncertain, the government is already looking around for alternatives. For example, Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) has already announced that Germany is rushing to build two special terminals to receive liquid natural gas. Environmentalists in particular are protesting against this. After all, American liquefied natural gas at least is probably one of the most polluting in the world. This is because it is extracted by the so-called “fracking” process. Habeck also commented on this once again. He made it clear that the terminals would not be used only for gas from U.S. container ships. Compatibility with global suppliers is a given.