15 Jan 2021, 13:06
Kerstine Appunn

Nord Stream 2 gets new construction permit as researchers question pipeline's necessity

Clean Energy Wire

Germany’s Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency (BSH) has granted pipeline company Nord Stream 2 AG permission to complete the pipe connection in the German Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) between September 2021 and May 2022. This is an adjustment to the timing of the original permission, which the company missed due to a halt to construction after U.S. sanction threats caused many companies to abandon the project. Environmental organisations (Nabu, DUH) have criticised that this allows for construction to continue during bird breeding season.

Nord Stream 2 is an underwater pipeline meant to transport natural gas from Russia directly to Germany that would run largely parallel to the existing Nord Stream 1 connection. The pipeline has been contested since its early planning stages and recently made headlines when the regional German state government of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, where the pipeline is supposed to make landfall, launched a new foundation to circumvent possible U.S. sanctions. Proponents argue the pipeline is a commercial investment that is key to Europe's supply security, while critics inside and outside of Germany oppose the project on environmental, geopolitical and security grounds.

A new report published by the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW) and commissioned by the Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union (Nabu) concludes that there will be no shortfall in natural gas supply in Germany and Europe should Nord Stream 2 not be completed. “In the short term, the European Union member states in Central and Western Europe have sufficient pipeline and LNG capacities as well as extensive storage capacities to secure their natural gas supply,” researchers Franziska Holz and Claudia Kemfert write. In the longer term, no fossil fuel infrastructure may be built according to the targets of the Paris Climate Agreement and the European Union’s tightened climate goal for 2030, they argue.

The pipeline system’s total capacity is set to double to 110 billion cubic metres (bcm) following Nord Stream 2’s completion. Around 160 kms of Nord Stream 2’s pipeline, most of which will be in Danish waters, still need to be completed.

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