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21 Jul 2022, 14:03
Kerstine Appunn

Germany steps up gas emergency preparations as Nord Stream resumes operation

Clean Energy Wire

Gas has started to flow through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline from Russia to Germany following a 10-day closure for annual maintenance work. The lower utilisation at around 40 percent of capacity "speaks a clear political language" and confirms that Germany "cannot rely on deliveries," said economy and climate minister Robert Habeck. "Technically, there is no reason why Nord Stream 1 should not be fully utilised again after the maintenance has been completed." German utilities also warned that the current gas flows provide only a temporary reassurance at best. "We will no longer be able to rely on a permanent and reliable supply from Russia," said the head of industry association BDEW, Kerstin Andreae. To ensure gas storages are full before winter, the government intruduced a new target to fill them to a level of 75 percent by 1 September (85% by 1 October; 95% by 1 November). These new targets also mean that companies are prevented from selling the gas that they have already stored at times of high prices, Habeck explained. The ministry also decided to activate a reserve of lignite power plants to reduce gas consumption for power generation on 1 October. "The lignite-fired power plants can then also return to the electricity market and replace natural gas power plants," Habeck's ministry said. Heating private swimming pools with gas will be prohibited in the future.  

Germany has managed to diversify energy supply chains and reduced its dependence on Russian fossil fuels since the Ukraine War began, the ministry for economy and climate said in its third progress report on energy security. The report details the measures taken by the government to substitute Russian fossil fuel imports and strengthen precautionary measures. The ministry lists the construction of infrastructure for receiving liquified natural gas (LNG) shipments, a declining gas consumption due to lower use in the energy and industry sectors and also because of the weather, plus the legal changes made to accelerate the renewable energy buildout as some of the achievements of the past months.

Germany will receive LNG via four floating gas terminals leased by the federal government, two of which will be in operation already around the end of the year, the ministry announced. Nevertheless the ministry admitted that “great challenges remain.” As flows through the Nord Stream pipeline have reduced to around 40 percent of capacity, gas is now a scarce commodity in Germany. This has lead the government to declare the next alarm stage of the gas emergency plan. As both businesses and consumers continue to suffer from record high energy prices, the ministry said it is currently discussing further relief measures with stakeholders. 

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