20 Oct 2022, 14:48
Julian Wettengel

Germany must cut gas use by 30 percent to avoid shortages and ensure energy sovereignty – report

Clean Energy Wire

Germany can implement ambitious climate action and at the same time strive for long-term energy sovereignty as it attempts to find a way out of the current energy crisis, said researchers from Ariadne, a government-funded alliance of more than 25 research institutes. Energy saving is key to this, especially in the short term, they said. After Russia stopped deliveries to Germany, the researchers project that the country will have about 600 terawatt hours (TWh) of gas annually through imports from reliable suppliers and domestic production in the coming years. That means it will have to reduce consumption by 30 percent compared to pre-crisis years. In principle, the gas saving potentials in the relevant sectors are sufficient, but Germany needs a “clear trend reversal” in the energy and buildings sectors to ensure that the theoretical savings potential is actually used, the researchers said.

Citing the climate targets, the researchers wrote that cutting gas consumption by 250 TWh alone would lead to CO2 reduction of 50 million tonnes per year compared to the 2017-2021 average. Although part of the gas reduction goes hand in hand with a switch to coal or heating oil, the resulting additional emissions are capped by European emissions trading scheme (EU ETS). Of course, this would mean efforts to weaken the ETS should be stopped. “One of the key tasks of the coming weeks and months will be to safeguard the integrity of the ETS,” Ottmar Edenhofer, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), said.

The researchers warned that the current gas supply crisis could lead to an oversupply in some years, as market players are currently ramping up production in reaction to the crunch. “In the second half of this decade, we have to avoid getting into a situation where lower gas prices mean that an oversupply finds demand in the market, because the climate policy is too weak,” Gunnar Luderer, who leads the Energy Systems Group at the PIK, said. In the medium to long term, strong climate policy thus continues to be necessary, he said.

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