13 Apr 2023, 13:08
Edgar Meza

Energy industry calls for faster construction of new gas power plants for supply security

Zeit Online

As the German government follows through with its plan to shut down its last remaining nuclear power plants for good, the country’s energy sector is calling for the construction of new hydrogen-ready gas power plants to ensure the country has sufficient energy, Zeit reports. New gas plants would "guarantee the security of supply at any time, even in the long term," said Kerstin Andreae, head of the German Association of Energy and Water Industries (BDEW). If new gas-fired power plants do not go into operation on time, coal-fired power plants would have to run longer, resulting in in higher CO₂ emissions, she added. Timm Kehler, chairman of industry association Zukunft Gas, decried the lack of investment incentives for the construction of new hydrogen-capable gas-fired power plants. Energy expert Manuel Frondel of the RWI – Leibniz Institute for Economic Research, however, is instead calling for more coal-fired power plants to be put on reserve after the nuclear phase-out, instead of shutting these down for good. Germany is heading towards an increasing capacity gap, Frondel told the Rheinische Post. Electricity consumption was increasing due to the greater use of electromobility and heat pumps. Using existing coal-fired plants makes more sense as they would be “a lot cheaper” than building new gas plants, which not only would be more expensive to operate but also not be available before 2030.

The government parties had said in their coalition agreement that several new gas power units are necessary to complement renewable electricity production, but Germany’s energy industry has long warned that companies have little incentive to build them. The plants would only be used when renewable energies do not supply enough electricity at peak demand periods, or at times when wind and solar is not sufficient. Keeping gas plants ready would have to be paid, instead of only the kilowatt hours produced, the industry has said. The economy ministry said it was developing a "power plant strategy" by the summer for controllable power plants that generate electricity when there is no sunlight or wind. The strategy includes modernizing older gas-fired power plants and replacing coal plants, with up to 25 gigawatts of controllable power plants to be built, some of which could be operated with hydrogen, either immediately or at a later date. Germany’s nuclear exit, which is set to be completed with three last remaining plants being shut down at the end of this week, has faced loud criticism from industry representatives and nuclear energy proponents who argue the phase-out is ill-timed and will exacerbate challenges in energy security and emissions reduction.

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