20 May 2022, 13:44
Benjamin Wehrmann

State CDU says gas power plants needed for supply security, but NGOs decry reliance

Die Welt / Clean Energy Wire

Conservative politicians in the south-western German state of Baden-Württemberg have called for keeping natural gas plants as a backup while the country phases out coal and nuclear power. Exiting the two technologies would not be possible „only with wind power, mandatory solar roofs, climate neutral heating concepts and the hope that our neighbours have some energy left for us,” said Raimund Haser, environment expert for the Christian Democrats (CDU), who are the smaller partner in a coalition with the Green Party in the highly industrialised state, newspaper Die Welt reported. Gas-fired power plants are needed as a “bridge technology” even if Germany and the EU are determined to end the import of gas from Russia, currently by far the region’s biggest supplier. New modern gas power plants should be compatible for operating with hydrogen, Haser added. Grid operator Transnet, a subsidiary of utility EnBW, had called for creating new incentives to build gas power plants, a measure the CDU politician praised for “not being made at the wrong time.” New gas plants would “not be an option but an imperative” to ensure supply security in the country, Haser argued. EnBW is currently retrofitting several coal plants in the state to operate with natural gas.

The German parliament and the council of federal state governments (Bundesrat) meanwhile approved a law that enables a rapid expansion of Germany’s LNG import infrastructure. The law that is supposed to minimize planning and licensing time will grant operating licenses until 2043, allowing operation thereafter only with climate neutral hydrogen.

Environmental groups criticised the reasoning that gas should remain a pillar of Germany’s energy system, with Friends of the Earth Germany (BUND) arguing that Russia’s war in Ukraine demonstrates “that we have to reduce and not increase our reliance on natural gas.” Gas plants would be an “emergency option” that thwarts the rollout of renewable power, BUND said, adding it intended to mount a legal challenge to plans for quickly building new import terminals for liquefied natural gas (LNG). NGO Environmental Action Germany (DUH) said Germany’s “oversized” plans for replacing Russian pipeline gas with LNG imported from other countries would consume the best part of the country’s remaining carbon emissions budget. “The seven most realistic LNG projects alone would cause about 2,130 million tonnes of CO2 throughout their entire running time, three quarters of the remaining German budget,” while a total of 12 projects are being planned, the DUH said.

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