16 Jan 2023, 13:56
Benjamin Wehrmann

Energy crisis has become manageable, can be overcome by 2024 - German minister

Clean Energy Wire

The German energy crisis has not ended yet, but has become “manageable” to a point where the government is confident it could be overcome for good by 2024, economy and climate minister Robert Habeck told an audience at business newspaper Handelsblatt’s energy summit 2023. “We’ve nearly surmounted the main challenge arising in 2022,” Habeck said with reference to the gas supply shortage resulting from Russia’s war on Ukraine. With storages more than 90 percent full in mid-January, two new liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals in operation and a third one about to be commissioned, Germany managed to avoid the “very real” risk of a “meltdown” in the industrial sector that many companies rightfully feared throughout last year, Habeck said.

“For the 2023/2024 winter, we also have more than justified hopes that gas storages will be full at the beginning of winter,” Habeck said, adding that the recent price decreases could be sustained. However, beyond the immediate challenges of the energy crisis, the “structural challenge” of decarbonising a modern industrialised economy without a loss of prosperity remained unchanged, Habeck stressed. The necessary reactivation of coal plants to stabilise the energy system in the short term amounted to a “climate sin” that should end as quickly as possible, ideally no later than 2024. But an uninterrupted availability of gas for power production is a prerequisite, the minister added.

The Green Party politician also addressed criticism of his visit to the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos in Switzerland, as his party has come under criticism for its deals with energy company RWE regarding the embattled town of Lützerath that is slated to be removed to make way for a coal mine expansion. The eviction of anti-coal activists in the town over the past days by police forces has drawn international media attention as a symbolic battleground for more rigorous emissions reduction. Habeck said that rules-based policymaking and open markets remained a key to advancing climate action, even as environmental risks make faster and more resolute action necessary. Meetings like the Davos forum, for all the justified criticism about their role, could help accelerate change by unlocking investments and providing a forum for dialogue, he said.  

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