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05 Aug 2022, 13:00
Sören Amelang Kerstine Appunn Benjamin Wehrmann Julian Wettengel

War in Ukraine: Tracking the impacts on German energy and climate policy

Photo shows LNG ship. Photo: CLEW/Wettengel
Germany will build two LNG import terminals, said chancellor Olaf Scholz. Photo: CLEW/Wettengel

The war in Ukraine forces Germany to radically rethink its energy policy, given that the country is heavily dependent on Russian fossil fuels. In first reactions, Germany put the contentious Nord Stream 2 pipeline project on hold, announced the creation of strategic coal and gas reserves, committed to building terminals for the import of liquefied natural gas (LNG), and agreed to support the ousting of Russian banks from the SWIFT payments system. The government has also pledged to speed up the shift to renewables in a bid to become more independent from energy imports. This article tracks key developments of Germany's energy and climate response to the war.

For more background and analysis on the implications of Russias war against Ukraine for German and European energy and climate policy, see this dossier.

4 August

German govt ponders best design of new gas levy as households' gas bills set to tripple

The controversial new levy on both households and companies is intended to benefit gas suppliers who now have to pay much higher prices to replace cheap gas from Russia. The government is considering the elimination of the value added tax (VAT) on the surcharge – a move backed by the Free Democrats (FDP) government coalition party. “The levy must not be the basis for further tax revenue,” said Michael Kruse, who oversees energy policy for the FDP‘s parliamentary group.

3 August

Scholz says "no technical reasons" for reduced gas flows from Russia

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has said Russia is responsible for the current drop in gas trading between the two countries which is feared to be a possible prelude for an even larger reduction which would worsen the European energy crisis. During a visit at a Siemens Energy facility in western German city Mühlheim, where the engineering company currently stores a gas turbine that has been at the centre of the trade dispute for several weeks, Scholz said the turbine had been overhauled successfully and “is ready for use at any time”. The chancellor sought to counter claims by Russian state-owned gas company Gazprom that the machinery is not operational and therefore to blame for lower gas flows through the offshore pipeline Nord Stream 1.

2 August

Boom of electric heaters causing concerns about German grid stability next winter

High demand for electric heaters is raising concerns amongst experts, who state that a large increase in the use of such appliances will threaten the stability of the national grid. In July there was an estimated 500 percent increase in the demand of electric heaters compared with in July last year, as citizens worry about keeping themselves warm this coming winter.

1 August

First hard coal “market returnee” power plant ready to replace gas in supply crisis

One of Germany’s retired coal power plants is now ready to be reignited if the energy crisis escalates in the coming months. The operators of the Mehrum hard coal plant in northern Germany said they expect a swift reconnection to the grid of the 690 megawatt (MW) installation, which can supply up to half a million households with electricity.

28 July

German gas storage levels could reach 90% despite reduced Nord Stream flows – operators

Even under the scenario where flows of Russian gas through the Nord Stream remain low, storage levels could still reach 90 percent, the association of gas storage system operators in Germany INES said. But less gas than is usually required over winter will be available. If Nord Stream supplies halt entirely, it would further change the situation.

27 July

Gazprom cuts flows through Nord Stream 1

As announced two days earlier, Russian Gazprom reduces flows through Nord Stream 1 to 32 million cubic metres per day.

25 July

Gazprom says it will reduce flows through Nord Stream to 20% of capacity

Russian gas company Gazprom announces that it would again cut flows through the key Nord Stream pipeline connecting Germany and Russia. Gazprom says flows would drop to just 20 percent (33 million cubic metres per day) of its full capacity from 27 July, because it needed to halt the operation of a Siemens gas turbine at a compressor station on instructions from an industry watchdog. The German government says it sees no technical reason for the latest reduction. Economy minister Robert Habeck tells Bayrischer Rundfunk that it continues to be “annoying” that Russia “does not have the guts to say ‘we are in an economic dispute with you’, but instead keeps telling such farce stories about these turbines that are simply not true. Putin uses the means he has and that is no surprise.”

Germany considers support to protect defaulting gas customers – media report

The German government is considering financial aid to protect households that can’t afford rising gas bills, reports tabloid Bild. Coalition sources tell the paper that two models are under discussion: interest-free loans from state-owned development bank KfW for landlords to pay their tenants’ bills, and direct financial aid to tenants and owners who can no longer pay their bills. However, a source tells Bild that "a lot is still in flux," adding the goal was to reach a decision quickly.

22 July

Germany bails out Uniper, Europe’s largest buyer of Russian gas

Germany will take a 30 percent stake in Europe’s largest Russian gas importer Uniper to save it from bankruptcy due to skyrocketing prices. “Uniper is a company that has got into big trouble,” says chancellor Olaf Scholz. “The company is of paramount importance for the economic development of this country, for the energy supply of citizens and many firms.” Scholz says the company bought gas from many suppliers, including Russia’s Gazprom. “As we all know, these supplies are no longer secure.” Scholz says the government would provide public loans of up to 7.7 billion euros in bonds and expand a credit line from state-owned development bank KfW to 9 from 2 billion euros.

21 July

Germany steps up gas emergency preparations as Nord Stream resumes operation

Gas starts 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," says 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." To ensure gas storages are full before winter, the government intruduces 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 decides to activate a reserve of lignite power plants to reduce gas consumption for power generation on 1 October.

20 July

SPD secretary general rules out Nord Stream 2 will enter into operation

The suspended offshore pipeline Nord Stream 2 will not enter into operation to help Germany’s gas supply shortfall, the Social Democrats‘ (SPD) secretary Kevin Kühnert has said. In an interview with news station n-tv, Kühnert said the government will “not prepare for scenario A or B but instead try to become independent from these gas imports as quickly as possible.” The SPD has been among the controversial project’s most active supporters before it was suspended shortly after the Russian attack in late February. “A clear political decision has been made with respect to Nord Stream 2,” he said, adding that “This pipeline will not enter into operation.” With a view to the currently idle pipeline Nord Stream 1, which is scheduled to undergo repair works until 21 July, Kühnert said it would be “completely irrelevant” what happens to it in terms of the government’s determination to end Russian gas imports as soon as possible.

18 July

Merkel government left Germany with energy policy “disaster” – agriculture minister

The former German government under chancellor Angela Merkel has left the country with a “disaster” in energy policy that is now costing the country dearly, Green Party agriculture minister Cem Özdemir has said at a debate in Munich reported on by Zeit Online. “We’ve inherited a catastrophic situation,” the minister said, arguing that “it’s not a great idea to let a criminal named Vladimir Putin cover 60 percent of the gas supply.” Özdemir said the former government coalition’s energy policy should be made subject to a “reappraisal,” without explicitly mentioning the role of Merkel or the Social Democratic Party (SPD) of current chancellor Olaf Scholz. “I would be greatly ashamed if I had handed over the country in this state,” Özdemir added.

Lobby group BDI says rules giving gas priority to households in denial of “new reality”

Industry federation BDI has called for a reform of the current gas emergency supply scheme in Germany as the rulebook that gives priority to private households failed to acknowledge a “hard new energy reality” that has to deal with a full-scale cut off from Russian supplies rather than temporary closures of individual supply lines. BDI head Siegfried Russwurm said policymakers in Berlin and Brussels had to come up with new regulation that “obliges all parts of society according to their capability,” news station n-tv reported. The chief lobbyist said he expected Germany to enter “a long-term gas shortage” that makes saving “any kilowatt hour of gas and electricity” an imperative. “Apart from companies, municipalities and states, individual customers have to become part of this massive energy saving campaign,” Russwurm said.

German government warns of energy emergencies in individual states – media

In response to uncertainties of whether gas imports from Nord Stream 1 will continue post the current maintenance work, the German government has warned against the possibility of gas shortages that could affect individual states, reports tabloid Bild. In the government report cited by Bild, the head of the chancellor’s Office, Wolfgang Schmidt (SPD) communicated concerns to the heads of federal states that the government is assuming disruptions of gas imports from Russia to continue beyond the maintenance work, scheduled to end on 21July. If supplies from Russia through the offshore pipeline remained above 40 percent, Germany would likely suffer no energy shortages. However, this outcome in considered overly optimistic.

14 July

No gas storage filling for first time in weeks

Germany has taken more natural gas out of its storages than it put in for the first time in weeks, if not months, as flows through the Nord Stream pipeline come to a stop, the federal network agency BNetzA confirmed. “This development makes it more difficult to achieve the storage levels required for winter and reduces the reserves for a gas shortage,” said the agency.

Gas bills to triple from 2023, says grid agency boss

Germany's public is yet to experience the full impact of rising gas prices as bills could “triple” from 2023, Klaus Müller, the president of the German Federal Network Agency (BNetzA), warns.

13 July

German govt takes next step to reactivate hard coal plants for supply security in gas crisis

Germany’s government adopts a regulation that would allow operators of certain hard coal plants to temporarily reactivate their units to help reduce natural gas consumption in the power sector.

Germany and Austria deepen cooperation to reduce dependence on Russian energy

Climate ministers Robert Habeck and Leonore Gewessler of Germany and Austria, respectively, say European solidarity is “more important than ever” amid the ongoing gas crisis in Europe, which has been exacerbated by Russia’s war against Ukraine. They sign a joint declaration.

12 July

Private households must “do their part” to save gas – econ min

Economy minister Robert Habeck says that private households must “do their part” to conserve gas and that industry must also receive attention in case the government has to ration the fuel in a shortage, reports Tagesschau. "The European emergency gas regulation provides that critical infrastructure and consumers are protected and industry and business are not," Habeck says. This makes sense in the case of short-term and regional problems, he says. "But that's not the scenario we have right now: We're talking potentially months of interruption of gas flows." Habeck is criticised for questioning the high priority for private consumers, but his ministry says his comments were not about households receiving no gas, but about how they could do their part.

11 July

Germany faces uncertainty over Russian gas supply as Nord Stream maintenance starts

Russian natural gas supplier Gazprom halts flows through Nord Stream on 11 July as about ten days of planned maintenance work began, with the German government bracing itself for a potentially permanent halt or reduction of supplies.

Econ min Habeck stresses “solidarity in the energy crisis” ahead of visit to Czech Republic and Austria

Germany’s economy and climate minister Robert Habeck visits Prague and Vienna to hold talks on intensified bilateral and European cooperation in securing gas supplies.

9 July

Security of energy supply top priority for coming years, says chancellor Scholz

Securing Germany’s energy supply could remain a top priority issue for Germany for some time, says German chancellor Olaf Scholz in a video message. “These days, the security of our energy supply occupies our minds. It will continue to do so for the next weeks, months and even years.” In his remarks, Scholz explains how the government is addressing the supply crisis – namely by building pipelines and LNG terminals, filling gas storages, using coal power plants to save gas, and – in the long run – expanding renewables. Georg Zachmann of think tank Bruegel criticises Scholz for not mentioning the importance of reducing demand and how citizens and companies could contribute to future security by conserving energy.

8 July

Uniper applies for government bailout

German chancellor Olaf Scholz pledges to help troubled energy giant Uniper, reports AP; it has asked the government for a bailout to cope with surging prices for natural gas due to the war in Ukraine, the news agency writes. In a statement, Uniper says the “stabilisation measures” it is seeking are “aimed at ceasing the current accumulation of substantial losses, covering Uniper’s liquidity needs and protecting Uniper’s investment-grade credit rating.”

Parent company Fortum says it is in constructive talks with the German government on how to stabilise Uniper both regarding its business risks and financial position, and thus safeguard security of supply in Germany. Several alternatives are now being proposed and discussed with the government, Fortum says.

Economy minister Robert Habeck tells Dlf in an interview that it cannot be ruled out that other companies will also need support. The government needs to make sure taxpayer money is “not spent senselessly,” but there is also some urgency: "We don't have years to think about anything, but there is naturally pressure to act,” he says.

7 July

Chemicals industry calls for fast legal clarity for changing supply to oil and coal

Germany’s chemical industry association VCI calls for a quick makeover of energy regulation that allows companies to switch their supply from gas to coal or oil. As a significant shortage of natural gas appears increasingly likely after Russia announced the temporary closure of pipeline Nord Stream 1, companies needed legal clarity for switching their main form of energy supply away from gas, VCI said. The lobby group said that companies should merely be obliged to have their change of supply officially registered for a limited period of time instead of having to obtain a full operating license that could take months to complete.

Gas shortage stress test urgently needed for German economy - Bavarian premier 

Bavaria’s state premier, Markus Söder, has called on the German government to carry out a gas supply “stress test” that is meant to assess how well companies can cope with a sudden supply shortfall, news station n-tv reports. “There’s a risk that in case of a gas shortage, pressure in the pipeline system will be insufficient to supply the gas plants needed for supply security in Bavaria,” the conservative CSU state premier wrote in a letter to Green Party economy and climate minister Robert Habeck. Söder said a stress test announced in May so far had not taken place, a situation that was “irritating given the context” of an escalating gas trading crisis with Russia.

6 July

Old lignite plants and hard coal import hurdles complicate Germany’s emergency coal revival

The reactivation of mothballed coal plants in Germany - in response to the energy crisis fuelled by Russia’s war on Ukraine - could include old lignite-fired power stations which do not meet emissions limits and other environmental requirements that normally would prohibit continuing their operations. Plants in the so-called security reserve should be made exempt from these requirements, plant operator LEAG recently demanded. Ministry sources suggest that only hard coal plants might get a license initially, with further additions possible “if needed,” according to the article. While lignite is fully sourced domestically, Germany imports its hard coal supply, with Russia still being a major supplier until 10 August, when contracts that were not prolonged in the context of western economic sanctions on Moscow will expire

5 July

Germany to change laws to allow company bailouts for energy supply security

Germany’s government aims to amend legislation that would allow the state to take stakes in companies severely affected by rising costs of imported fossil gas, such as Europe’s largest importer of Russian gas, Uniper. The cabinet adopted draft bills which now have to be debated and decided by parliament. The energy crisis, exacerbated by Russia’s war against Ukraine, means that some German energy companies crucial to supply security are struggling. As Russia has significantly reduced gas supplies to and through Germany, Uniper must procure the volumes on spot markets at much higher prices, putting the company in a difficult situation because it is not allowed to simply adjust prices for its customers in the current situation.

French EU commissioner says Germany must keep nuclear plants online as long as possible

The three remaining nuclear plants in Germany that are scheduled for decommissioning at the end of this year should be kept online amid the ongoing European energy crisis to support the bloc’s energy supply security, said the French EU commissioner for the internal market, Thierry Breton. “It’s very important that the three nuclear plants that are still in operation keep operating for a longer time,” meaning at least several months into 2023, Breton said, adding that such a move would be “in the common European interest”, as Russia is trying to weaponise European fossil fuel dependence in its war against Ukraine. Nuclear and also coal power capacity would have to be used “as long as this is necessary”

4 July

Energy poverty increasingly affecting Germany’s middle class – analysis

The escalating energy crisis in Europe threatens to push German middle class households into “energy poverty,” economic research institute IW has found in an analysis. Energy poverty arises once the share of energy bills of an individual’s net income exceeds ten percent, which affected about 25 percent of all citizens as of May 2022. In the year before, less than 15 percent of all citizens fit into the category.

First floating LNG terminal under construction, operator hopes for starting supply already in winter

Construction of Germany's first LNG terminal in Wilhelmshaven can start quickly, energy company Uniper said. Authorities gave the green light for the rapid commissioning of a floating storage and regasification unit that can handle 7.5 billion cubic metres of gas per year, over 8 percent of country' annual demand, the company said. Uniper said operations at the terminal "hopefully" could begin already in the coming winter.

3 July

"Swimming pools and chocolate buiscuits" have lower priority in case of gas shortage - grid agency

German grid agency (BNetzA) head Klaus Müller says it remains uncertain whether Germany can reach its target to refill  gas storages to an average 90 percent before winter. “If gas flows from Russia are lowered for a longer term in the course of the maintenance for political motivations, we have to talk seriously about savings.” He said in that case products and services that are not essential rank lower in the priority list. “Swimming pools are not critical, nor is the production of chocolate buiscuits.” Hamburg’s city government says this could require a rationing of warm water, or lowering the maximum temperature in the district heating network. Climate and energy minister Robert Habeck warns that Germany would face “very, very heated debates” if the country didn’t manage to fill gas storages before the heating season.

Regional gas supply shortage would switch off hundreds of thousands of gas boilers - grid agency

Germany’s grid agency BNetzA warns that even a temporary regional gas supply shortage could have lasting effects on private households. As soon as the pressure in a certain region falls below a minimum threshold, hundreds of thousands of gas boilers would automatically switch off and would have to be restarted individually by qualified personnel, agency head Klaus Müller says. That’s why his agency would always aim to avoid this scenario by ordering cuts in industrial use. Almost half of Germany’s 43 million households are heated with natural gas.

30 June

German gas consumption one third lower in May than same time last year

Germany’s gas consumption was 14.3 percent lower in the first five months of 2022 than in the previous year, energy industry association BDEW reports. In the month of May, gas usage even was more than one third (-34.7%) below that of May 2021. Milder temperatures in spring this year likely were responsible for the majority of the decrease, the BDEW said - but even adjusted for temperature effects, consumption still was 10.8 percent lower.

Germany in talks to bail out energy giant Uniper

Germany is in talks to bail out energy company Uniper to stem broader fallout from Russia’s moves to slash natural gas deliveries, reports Bloomberg. Uniper, the largest buyer of Russian gas in Germany, said it’s discussing a possible increase in state-backed loans or even equity investments to secure liquidity.

28 June

Industry fears halving of its gas supply, major loss in output if Russia stops deliveries

A sudden stop of Russian gas supplies as of July 2022 would lead to a loss of economic output of more than 12 percent, affecting up 5.6 million jobs in the country, a paper commissioned by the Bavarian Industry Association (vbw) states. The paper, prepared by consultancy Prognos, assumes that not even half of the industry's gas demand would be covered due to legally defined minimum quantities in gas storage facilities and the supply of priority customers. Planned liquefied natural gas (LNG) deliveries are expected to not be available in sufficient quantities yet.

G7 say they won't compromise on climate goals as they tackle fallout of war against Ukraine

G7 leaders have finished their three-day meeting in the Bavarian Alps with a commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement, even as they agreed that public funding could be necessary for some fossil gas projects to reduce dependence on Russian energy. The summit agenda was dominated by Russia’s war against the Ukraine, which G7 leaders sought to counter by demonstrating strength and unity in the group of influential western economies.

27 June

German parliament adopts laws for faster grid & hydrogen expansion

Germany’s federal parliament (Bundestag) has passed a first batch of energy legislation, designed to accelerate the expansion of the power grid and protect consumers from rising energy prices when a supplier leaves the market. “For a successful energy transition, it is crucial that the grid expansion can keep pace with the accelerated expansion of renewable energies," said economy and climate minister Robert Habeck, whose ministry had prepared the bills.

24 June

Germany triggers second alert stage of three step-emergency gas plan

The German government has launched the second of a total of three escalation stages of its national gas supply security plan, which was drawn up in reaction to Russia's invasion of Ukraine. After triggering the first "early warning" stage shortly after Russia's attack began in February, the reduction of gas flows from Russia to Germany since mid-June led the energy ministry to launch the second "alert stage," which is supposed to prepare gas consumers for further rising prices and possible supply bottlenecks while still largely relying on market mechanisms. The country's grid agency warned avoiding critical supply shortages would depend on the success of gas saving efforts and intra-European gas trading, while industry representatives said skyrocketing prices could not be shouldered by companies alone

22 June

Habeck accuses Russia of an economic attack on Germany

Federal economy minister Robert Habeck has described Russia’s move to throttle gas supplies last week as “an economic attack” on Germany, Spiegel reports. Speaking at a Federation of German Industries (BDI) conference on Tuesday, Habeck said the attack, similar to gas supply cuts to Poland, Bulgaria and Denmark, was aimed at triggering a debate in Europe and in Germany “about the hardship and fear that is affecting this country” and warned against a rise in populism.

21 June

RWE halts early retirements as Germany ramps up coal use to replace Russian gas

RWE, Germany’s largest energy company, has halted early retirement of employees in reaction to the government’s decision to increase the use of coal-fired power while gas supplies are low. In order to keep the lignite-fired power plants running longer than previously expected, the company will also use trained and external workers to cover personnel requirements, involving hundreds of jobs.

Faster decarbonisation must accompany shift from Russian energy – G7 business groups

Efforts to replace fossil fuel imports from Russia must be accompanied by an "even stronger adoption of policies embracing the transition to decarbonisation and the green economy," said business associations from all G7 countries in a joint statement ahead of the leaders’ summit in Germany. Natural gas from other suppliers than Russia should be treated as a “transition fuel”, the so-called B7 (business-7) alliance said.

20 June

German economy minister rejects calls for using fracking to secure gas supplies

Germany’s economy and climate minister Robert Habeck rejects a suggestion by the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) to allow the controversial fracking method to exploit unused natural gas deposits in the country in order to secure supply. “The discussion about fracking doesn’t help us at all at the moment. Even if we decided to do it, it would take years to exploit these deposits,” the Green party politician says.

Security official concerned over Chinese involvement in German wind sector

Growing tensions between the West and China are leading to increasing concern over the role of Chinese companies in Germany’s energy sector, particularly in the wind power segmen. A German security official has warned against the potential threat of Chinese companies involved in the monitoring and operating of wind farms and the supply of crucial components for wind power infrastructure. A string of apparently targeted cyberattacks on German wind farmsearlier this year, possibly perpetrated by Russia, has led to worries that the country’s main future power source is not  sufficiently protected.

Replacing Russian gas to play “enormous role” at leaders’ summits – govt official

The question of how to replace natural gas supply from Russia will play an “enormous role” at upcoming leaders’ summits of the European Union, the G7 and NATO, said a German government official in Berlin. The issue will, for example, be discussed in connection with the idea to establish a “climate club” at the G7 summit that takes place in Schloss Elmau at the end of the week.

19 June

Germany to fire up coal plants as Russia turns down the gas

Germany must limit its use of gas for electricity production and prioritize the filling of storage facilities to compensate for a drop in supply from Russia, Economy Minister Robert Habeck says, according to a report by Deutsche Welle. Habeck laments the necessity to use more coal to produce electricity, but describes the current situation as serious. “That's bitter, but it's simply necessary in this situation to lower gas usage.”

17 June

Diminished Nord Stream 1 gas flows could lead Germany to regulate gas retailing – econ min

The increasing pressure on Germany’s gas supply system could lead the government to tighten its grip on gas distribution and enforce savings by law, economy and climate minister Robert Habeck said. The ministry told Clean Energy Wire gas flows would be monitored hourly to decide about next possible steps. Following Russian company Gazprom’s announcement that it will reduce the amount of gas delivered to Germany through the key Nord Stream 1 pipeline by about 60 percent, Habeck said “we will implement further measures to save gas, if need be also by law” if the country’s gas storages cannot be filled as planned

15 June

Gazprom announcement to reduce Nord Stream gas flows "political decision" - econ min

Gas flows from Russia to Germany through the key Nord Stream 1 pipeline will be drastically reduced for an unspecified period, state-owned Russian gas provider Gazprom has announced. The company said that German engineering company Siemens had failed to provide the equipment needed to carry out repairs just weeks before the offshore pipeline is scheduled to undergo its annual maintenance work. German economy minister Robert Habeck called the move a "political decision". The reduced gas flows could put Germany’s target of filling its gas storages almost completely by the end of the year at risk.

13 June

Germany to tighten antitrust law as fuel tax cuts fail to bring price relief

Economy minister Robert Habeck has said that the government intends to tighten the country’s antitrust law amid concerns that oil companies do not pass on a tax cut on fuels to consumers. The government has lowered taxes on fuels for the months of June, July and August as part of a larger relief package to help citizens deal with rising energy prices, exacerbated by Russia’s war against Ukraine. However, data from the first days indicated that the gap between pump prices and crude oil prices had increased sharply, Habeck said. “What many experts had warned about has come to pass: The mineral oil companies pocket the profit, consumers feel nothing of the tax reduction.”

10 June

Germans urged to cut energy use to lessen dependence on Russia

The government and a broad alliance of business and civil society groups are calling on citizens to save energy with an advertising campaign aimed at reducing dependence on Russian imports while also accelerating the country’s landmark energy transition. Increasing efficiency is key to becoming more independent and reaching climate targets, economy and climate minister Robert Habeck said at the launch of the campaign. Many environmentalists welcomed the initiative, but some criticised the government for subsidising petrol use and shifting responsibility to citizens. 

8 June

Govt approves plan for larger coal plant reserve and gas cut for power stations

To counteract future gas supply shortages, the government cabinet has decided on new regulations for the provision of backup power stations and to minimise the use of natural gas in power generation. In case of an emergency, additional back-up plants can be brought into operation at short notice, the article said. For this purpose, already mothballed coal plants will be upgraded; some 2.6 gigawatt (GW) of coal capacity that is scheduled to be shut down will be transferred into the reserve, which will amount to 9 GW in total.

UAE wants to cooperate with Germany on hydrogen for climate-neutral future – minister

Germany and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) will cooperate on an accelerated energy transition to meet their climate neutrality targets, the UAE’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan has said. In an op-ed for business daily Handelsblatt, the minister wrote that the two countries had launched the Emirati-German Hydrogen Task Force to drive sustainable growth and meet their respective 2045 and 2050 climate neutrality goals. They also discussed how hydrogen-based technology and infrastructure can strengthen Europe’s energy security.

7 June

German econ min's Israel visit focused on renewables rather than LNG

The economy and climate minister has held talks in Israel about bilateral energy cooperation, with a focus on developing renewable energies rather than short-term deliveries of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to replace shipments from Russia. Israel has large natural gas reserves but no LNG terminal. "I have made it clear that Germany needs natural gas now to diversify from Russian supplies, but less so in the medium term," minister Robert Habeck said. Gas infrastructure that is ready in seven or nine years would come at a time when Germany “will very quickly detach itself from fossil energies again,” he said. A short-term fix could be shipping gas from Israel that arrives in Egypt via pipeline to Germany from an Egyptian LNG port.

Majority of German economists support EU tariffs on Russian energy

EU tariffs on energy imports from Russia would be supported by a majority of economists, a survey has found. According to the survey by Ifo Institute and newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 70 percent of polled economists said they would prefer tariffs to embargoes, and that they believe they would be an effective way to reduce payments to Russia while protecting European energy supply. A tariff would force Russia to lower its export price while high prices in Europe would be an adequat signal for consuming less of a scarce resource.

2 June

Netherlands gives go-ahead for joint gas drilling with Germany in North Sea

The Netherlands has greenlighted joint gas drilling operations with Germany in the North Sea to exploit a gas field straddling both countries’ territorial waters. The Dutch government said it had issued its license for the gas field’s part in the Netherlands, while Germany had started an “accelerated” licensing procedure for its share of the gas field, news website n-tv reported. Gas could be produced by a planned drilling rig by 2024, with the rig itself receiving its energy from wind turbines. Plans for exploiting the field about 20 kilometres off the coast have existed for several years but so far did not go ahead due to environmental concerns, as the field is located near the protected Wadden Sea marine reserve. Earlier this week, Russian gas provider Gazprom declared it would no longer supply natural gas to the Netherlands.

German govt issues decree to fill up largest natural gas storage

Economy and climate minister Robert Habeck has issued a decree obliging the gas storage of Rehden to be filled. Rehden is Germany’s largest gas reserve, but storage levels have been at historic lows for months (currently only 2% full), something the owner – Russian Gazprom Germania Group -- has not done anything about. Since April, Gazprom Germania has been under trusteeship by the Federal Network Agency (BNetzA). “With the ministerial decree, we are creating the preconditions so that the market area manager Trading Hub Europe can start injecting gas as quickly as possible,” the ministry writes.

Build up new global gas supply chains rather than fight over existing volumes –  Scholz

Countries like Germany should endeavour to find new, additional sources of natural gas as they are trying to wean themselves off Russian supply, instead of crowding out weaker competition on the world markets, chancellor Olaf Scholz said. Competition for existing supplies “would mean massively rising prices and entire countries and world regions that could no longer afford energy,” he said at the energy industry conference BDEW Congress 2022. He called for new supply chains and energy partnerships. “Just last week, I held talks with partners in Africa on how we can support the development of a liquefied natural gas infrastructure there – and, in the long term, a hydrogen infrastructure – for example through the European Investment Bank or KfW funding.” Scholz called natural gas the “central bridge to a climate-neutral future,” even if Germany may have to resort to using more coal in the short term.

31 May

Government pledges to find economic perspectives for workers hit by embargo on Russian oil

A project group set up by the economy and climate ministry has begun its work to find an economic perspective for workers at the oil refinery in Schwedt on the Polish border, which so far has processed a majority of Germany’s Russian oil imports. A far-reaching embargo on Russian oil by the EU will plunge the refinery that services a large part of eastern Germany as well as the entire region into severe economic difficulties. “Things in Schwedt are complex,” state secretary Michael Kellner said, adding that Germany’s reliance on Russian fossil fuels even after the start of the Crimea War in 2014 was “now taking its toll”. Kellner said the government would work to find solutions for workers in Schwedt, arguing that this would pose an “opportunity” as fossil fuels would in any case be phased out in the foreseeable future. He said clean energy solutions like hydrogen production, sustainable aviation fuels and other renewable power technologies could be a possible lifeline for the region’s energy industry.

25 May

Germany pushes for closer offshore wind cooperation between Baltic Sea states

Germany wants to increase international cooperation on making the Baltic Sea an important location for offshore wind generation. The country plans to use its one-year presidency of the Council of the Baltic Sea States starting in July to push the issue, foreign minister Annalena Baerbock said before the start of a ministerial session of the Council in Kristiansand in Norway.

24 May

German-Senegalese gas plans under fire for violating pledge to end fossil fuel support

Germany could support Senegal in efforts to exploit fossil gas resources off its coast, chancellor Olaf Scholz said during a visit to the western African country. As Germany seeks alternatives to Russian fossil fuel imports, Scholz said the two countries' governments had begun “intensive” talks on cooperation on gas extraction and LNG production. However, think tanks and NGOs say such cooperation would contradict a pledge Germany signed at last year’s UN climate conference, whose signatories vowed to end foreign fossil fuel support by the end of 2022. A climate and economy ministry spokesperson told Clean Energy Wire that Germany stands by the pledge and would implement it. Under the umbrella of Germany’s G7 presidency this year, the group of industrialised democracies could establish a special “climate partnership” with Senegal, said Scholz.

Repeated cyberattacks cause concern about German wind industry’s IT security

A string of apparently targeted cyberattacks on German wind farms has led to worries that the country’s main future power source is not  sufficiently protected. Energy system IT expert Hagen Lauer of research institute Fraunhofer SIT warned that renewables have become part of the country’s critical infrastructure, adding that many are operated by small companies with limited security resources. Lauer said the Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) should strive to better integrate small companies and also private solar power “prosumers” in its IT security architecture.

20 May

LNG deliveries could start by 2024 as Germany and Qatar formally seal energy partnership

Qatar and Germany have inked a bilateral energy partnership that includes shipments of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the emirate in the Middle East to Germany. Qatar’s sheikh Tamin al Thani and German economy and climate minister Robert Habeck signed a declaration saying both countries would deepen trading of energy and other commercial relations while also jointly working on reaching their climate targets, Germany’s economy and climate ministry said. Green hydrogen production with renewable power would also play an important role in the envisaged partnership, it added. In an interview with Handelsblatt, the sheikh said LNG deliveries to Germany could commence by 2024.

Solar, wind clear favourites of German citizens, nuclear remains largely rejected

Renewable power installations and hydrogen production are by far the favoured options for people in Germany to manage the pivot away from Russian fossil fuels, a survey conducted by Germany’s Federal Environment Foundation (DBU) has found. More investments in solar power (75%), wind power and green hydrogen (both 65%) received the highest approval rates among surveyed citizens, while new investments in nuclear power (25%), natural gas (6%) and coal (5%) received only low or very low support. However, the survey also found that renewables still only play a marginal role in the country’s heating sector, where natural gas dominates with 52 percent of all heating systems. Oil is used in 18 percent of homes for heating, whereas heat pumps cover 3 percent, geothermal energy 2 percent and solar thermal system 1 percent of all households.

Coal plant phase-out auctions continue unfettered by energy crisis

The interest in decommissioning hard coal power plants by operators has not been reduced by the energy crisis resulting from the war in Ukraine, the latest round of auctions in the context of Germany’s coal exit has shown. “Procedures to phase out coal can continue in this currently difficult situation,” said Klaus Müller, head of Germany’s Federal Grid Agency (BNetzA). Plants with a combined capacity of about 1,000 megawatts (MW) that had been awarded about 45,000 euros per MW on average for decommissioning would only have to be taken off the grid in two years’ time and might even be kept in security reserve if they are considered systemically relevant, Müller said.

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

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.
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).

19 May

Germany welcomes EU plans to end dependence on Russian energy

Germany has reacted largely positively to EU plans for ending dependence on Russian fossil fuel imports. Chancellor Olaf Scholz called the European Commission’s RePowerEU Plan an “important initiative” that could give fresh impetus to renewables expansion, energy efficiency and industrial transformation. The German industry in general welcomed the Commission’s efforts to exit fossil fuels from Russia and cut red tape when it comes to infrastructure projects, such as renewables and hydrogen facilities. However, think tanks criticised the EU for putting too much emphasis on diversifying the current oil, gas and coal supply routes instead of moving to renewables more forcefully.

Mutual energy security assistance imperative of EU solidarity – Scholz

European Union countries must support each other during the current energy crisis exacerbated by Russia’s war against Ukraine, said German chancellor Olaf Scholz in a government statement to the Bundestag. “At the European level, it is important to ensure that there are no shortages in energy supply in individual member states,” said Scholz. “This is an imperative of European solidarity.” Part of a European solution to the crisis is the development of trans-European energy networks, said Scholz.

18 May

No fixed shutdown sequence for gas users in case of supply shortage – regulator

There will be no fixed shutdown sequence with regard to individual consumers or sectors in case of a stop or stark reduction of gas supply from Russia, the Federal Network Agency (BNetzA), Germany’s regulator, said in a paper on criteria for action during a possible gas shortage. The measures the grid agency plans to take would depend “on the specific nature of a gas shortage,” but – in principle – the measures would be the mildest possible, writes BNetzA. These range from ordering those consumers who can to switch to a different fuel to cutting supply for complete industrial facilities.

 17 May

Economy ministry tables energy efficiency "work plan" to reduce fossil fuel demand

The economy and climate ministry has presented plans to make Germany save more energy and increase efficiency, particularly in view of the impact of the war in Ukraine on Russian fossil fuel imports. The "work plan" offers a catalogue of measures that includes financial incentives, targeted support and regulatory framework adjustments. “We are currently pulling out all the stops to become less dependent on Russian energy,” said economy minister Robert Habeck. “As important as it is to find alternative sources of supply for gas in the short term and to build the infrastructure for this, the cheapest and most efficient contribution to greater independence is lower energy consumption.”

Energy industry calls for law to ramp-up Germany's hydrogen economy

German energy industry association BDEW has called for a “hydrogen ramp-up law” to ensure that the country quickly takes the steps necessary to build up a market for climate-friendly hydrogen, according to a media report. A new support programme should help fund the generation and use of hydrogen, for example through carbon contracts for difference (CCfD). The government also has to ensure that hurdles in the permitting process are minimised and that the necessary infrastructure for hydrogen imports can be set up, the lobby group said.

12 May

Russia "weaponises" gas supply, Germany could cope with halt by winter – econ min

Russia has started to use fossil fuel deliveries as “a weapon“ with the introduction of sanctions on Gazprom Germania, the former German unit of Gazprom, said economy and climate minister Robert Habeck. While the situation was escalating, the concerned gas volumes could be compensated for, said the minister. In an interview with a German newspaper, Habeck said Germany could cope with a halt to Russian gas deliveries as early as the coming winter.

War response must not undermine climate and environmental action – env min

Climate action and environmental protection must not be compromised as a result of Germany’s response to the war on Ukraine, environment minister Steffi Lemke said. The Green Party politician told public broadcaster DLF extraordinary measures like the fast licensing of liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals would be acceptable “in the current exceptional situation”, but added this doesn't mean that environmental regulation no longer plays a role. Moreover, new investments in fossil infrastructure should not imply that fossil fuels are going to be used longer than planned, she added.

11 May

Ukraine’s redirecting of gas flows not affecting supply security – ministry

Gas supply security in Germany is not affected by a reduction of transfers via pipelines running through Ukraine, the economy and climate ministry said in an article by news magazine Der Spiegel. “Supply security in Germany currently is guaranteed,” a spokesperson said, following an announcement by Ukraine’s gas pipeline operator that it would redirect some gas flows from Russia to Europe due to “force majeure” imposed by the Russian occupation of Ukrainian territory. About one third of daily supplies to Europe, roughly 33 million cubic metres, could be lost due to the incident, the article said.

Germany's grid agency BNetzA said the rerouting of gas flows in Ukraine would reduce supplies via this gateway by 25 percent, which could be compensated by more imports from Norway and the Netherlands. It also said there were no immediate effects on prices, while storage facilities in the country would currently be fuller than during the same time in 2015, 2017 or 2021.

Praise and criticism for German government’s LNG acceleration act

Germany’s government has decided on a draft text for an LNG (liquefied natural gas) Acceleration Act to speed up planning and construction of necessary infrastructure for direct imports. The LNG act will now be introduced Into parliament and the Bundestag as well as the council of state governments (Bundesrat) must agree for it to take effect. The draf says the LNG import infrastructure to be built now must be fully converted to receive only climate-neutral hydrogen and derivates like ammonia by 2043, writes the news agency.

10 May

Germany, Qatar at odds over terms in talks on LNG supply deal - media report

Germany and Qatar have hit difficulties in talks over long-term liquefied natural gas (LNG) supply deals amid differences over key conditions, including the duration of any contract, three people familiar with the discussions told Reuters. Germany, which aims to cut its carbon emissions by 88% by 2040, is reluctant to commit to Qatar's conditions to sign deals of at least 20 years to secure the massive LNG volumes it needs to reduce its dependence on Russian gas, the sources said.

Economy ministry draws up emergency plan for sudden halt to gas deliveries - report

Germany "quietly" is making provisions for a possible sudden end to gas deliveries from Russia, news agency Reuters reported. An response package might include putting critical companies and infrastructure under state control, the article said. In a different article, Reuters reported that Germany has shelved plans to establish a nationa coal reserve in response to embargoes on Russian supplies. Supply on world markets would suffice to satisfy expected demand in the country, the economy ministry said according to the news agency.

9 May

Habeck to visit key oil refinery in eastern Germany to discuss impact of Russia embargo

Economy and climate minister Robert Habeck will visit the oil refinery in the eastern German town of Schwedt to discuss the effects of an EU oil embargo against Russia on the energy industry in the town on the Polish border, newspaper Tagesspiegel reported. The state premier of Schwedt’s home state Brandenburg, Dietmar Woidke (SPD), had urged the Green economy and climate minister to come up with emergency schemes to protect the refinery that is owned by Russian energy company Rosneft and provides much of the oil consumed in eastern Germany, including the capital city Berlin. Habeck had warned the embargo on Russian oil would immensely impact the Schwedt refinery and could lead to oil supply shortages in eastern Germany. A possible result of Habeck’s visit could be a plan to expropriate Rosneft and put the refinery under state control.

Energy industry calls for clear operating plan in case of gas supply shortage

The German energy industry group BDEW has urged the government to outline a definite operating plan for the event of a cut to Russian gas supplies. “If gas deliveries are no longer possible, things need to happen fast,” BDEW head Kerstin Andreae said, arguing that the government had to discuss and decide on all needed measures now to minimise the economic impact. Andreae said the supply of “protected customers”, including households and critical infrastructure, and the refilling of the country’s gas storages for next winter should have a priority if Russian supplies are cut off.

5 May

Germany is rapidly pushing several infrastructure projects for the import of liquefied natural gas (LNG) in order to wean itself off Russian natural gas. Economy and climate minister Robert Habeck visited the kick-off ceremony for the construction of Germany’s first LNG terminal at the port town of Wilhelmshaven, and signed contracts for four floating liquefied gas units. At the same time, the northern state of Lower Saxony and the federal government agreed to establish an industrial-scale import infrastructure for climate-friendly gases by the end of 2025.

4 May

Economy minister says oil embargo could lead to regional fuel shortages

German economy minister Robert Habeck tells RTL Direkt that the planned embargo on Russian oil imports could lead to short-term shortages of fuels such as petrol in eastern Germany and Berlin. “It cannot be ruled out, I am sorry to say, that shortages will indeed occur,” he said. As refineries in the east have been supplied with oil from Russia, it could happen that "for a limited time there is too little oil and therefore too little petrol available,” Habeck said.

Germany says ready to support EU proposal for embargo on Russian oil

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen announces the proposal for a “complete import ban on all Russian oil, seaborne and pipeline, crude and refined”, with a phase-out period of six months for crude oil and refined products by the end of 2022.

Germany’s economy and climate minister Robert Habeck says the country is ready. “The transition period is sufficiently long that we can make all arrangements to create alternatives to Russian oil in Germany,” Habeck says. “Of course, we can’t guarantee in this situation that it will not falter, especially regionally.”

1 May

Government plans to speed up approvals for LNG terminals

The German government plans a law to speed up the construction of terminas for the import of liquefied natural gas (LNG). "The aim of the law is to go through all approval and authorisation procedures as well as the awarding of public contracts and concessions considerably faster than is possible under the current legal situation, and thus to achieve speedy approvals and integration of LNG into the German market," the economy and climate ministry said.

Grid agency proposes auction for gas use rights in case of supply shortfall

Germany's grid agency BNetzA has proposed auctioning off permissions for gas comsumption in the case of a shortfall. "In the case of the coal phase-out, we use an auction model to achieve the most efficient shutdown of power plants with economic incentives," Müller told  Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung. "I can imagine such incentives for the industrial sector as well. The market knows better than the state where energy can be saved most efficiently."

29 April

Germany has thrown its weight behind demands to sanction uranium imports from Russia and other parts of Vladimir Putin's civil nuclear industry in retaliation for his invasion of Ukraine, five EU diplomats told POLITICO. Four of the diplomats said sanctioning Russia's nuclear industry was discussed in a meeting with EU ambassadors and the Commission earlier this week, with Poland and the Baltic countries leading the calls to act.

Oil embargo “not necessarily the best way” to harm Putin, says German econ min

Although the preparations for weaning Germany off Russian oil are well underway and have put the country in a position where it could join an oil embargo, economy and climate minister Robert Habeck has warned that such an embargo may not harm the Russian economy as much as generally believed. “It could result in the situation that oil becomes much more expensive on the global market,” Habeck said on public television ZDF, arguing that Russian president Vladimir Putin would then receive more money for the oil that he continues to sell to other countries. “That would be idiotic and counterproductive and we should prevent this,” Habeck said, adding that a high oil price would damage less affluent countries even more than western Europe and North America, and drive them into Putin’s arms.

Chancellor Scholz warns Germans to be prepared for sudden gas stop

Speaking during a visit to Tokyo on Thursday, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said he is preparing for Russia to halt all gas shipments to his country, arguing it was impossible to guess how Putin will behave. “You have to be prepared for that,” he said, “and we were already prepared before the war started and we know what we have to do."

28 April

Germany one step away from ending dependence on Russian oil

Germany has reduced its dependence on Russian crude oil from 35 to 12 percent and will take steps to replace the remaining deliveries to the Russian-operated Schwedt refinery within the next days, says economy and climate minister Robert Habeck. As Gazprom stopped supplies of natural gas to Poland and Bulgaria because of their “failure” to pay in roubles, both EU and German politicians said that Vladimir Putin’s warning shot should not make governments nervous, as contingency plans were put in place.

27 April

Cabinet agrees on energy price relief package

The government agrees on measures to support citizens facing higher energy prices. The cabinet decision formally gets the second relief package on its way, which was already agreed by the coalition partners at the end of March. It includes lowering energy taxes on petrol and diesel to the European minimum from June to August; a 300-euro one-off payment for people in paid work; and a 9-euro/month public transport ticket also for June until August. The measures must now be debated in parliament to enact the necessary legislative changes. Votes in the Bundestag and Bundesrat are planned for 19 and 20 May 2022.

25 April

Half of companies to reduce investments due to high energy prices – survey

Rapidly rising energy costs have led many companies in Germany to postpone or reconsider investments, a survey carried by newspaper Augsburger Allgemeine has found. Nearly half (46%) of the roughly 1,100 companies surveyed said they would reduce their investments and 11 percent said they consider completely shutting down part of their operations due to high energy costs. However, three quarters also said they would increase investments in energy efficiency. About 40 percent said they already experience high energy costs, while many others said they would be insulated from the price hike for now as they still benefit from long-term delivery contracts at lower prices. Three quarters said they expect significant price rises in the second half of the year and another quarter in 2023. About 90 percent said they would likely have to increase their own prices as a result.

22 April

German grid agency starts survey of gas network operators to prepare for shortfalls

Germany's grid agency BNetzA begins collecting data from gas network operators in preparation for possible supply shortages as a result of the war in Ukraine. "We are working intensely to prepare for a situation where the BNetzA must order supply reductions for major gas consumers. At the same time we are doing everything to keep that situation from occurring," says agency head Klaus Müller. In the case of gas shortfalls, it would be the agency's job to coordinate consumption. The survey is part of the preparations for a gas security platform which is planned to go online on 1 October.

20 April

Germany rejects Putin’s demand for gas payments in roubles

Companies buying Russian natural gas should not have to set up rouble accounts to pay for it, German finance minister Christian Lindner says in an interview with Bloomberg Television in Washington. “Contracts are contracts,” Lindner says. “Contracts are based on dollars and euros and so private-sector companies should pay in dollars or euros.”

Mistake not listening to eastern European warnings on Nord Stream 2 – former foreign min

“It was a mistake not to listen to the eastern Europeans when they objected to Nord Stream 2,” former German foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel tells Die Welt. “We transferred the responsibility for energy security from the state to the private energy companies when we liberalised the whole of Europe in 2002. And they looked for the cheapest source: Russian pipeline gas.” The government should have started to question the complete liberalisation by 2014, when Russia annexed Crimea, and diversified gas supply for reasons of national security, Gabriel adds.

Current price hikes for motor fuels higher than during crises of past decades – Destatis

The dynamic development of energy prices in the context of the COVID-19 crisis has further accelerated as a result of the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine, and the year-on-year increase in motor fuel prices in the past decades has never been as large as in the reference month of March 2022, says the federal statistical office Destatis. In March 2022, private consumers paid an average of 41.9 percent more for premium petrol and 62.6 percent more for diesel at German petrol stations than a year earlier.

Secure power supply in 2023 possible even without Russian energy– DIW

A secure power supply in 2023 is possible even without Russian energy and despite the nuclear exitwrite researchers from the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW). While in the short term, coal-fired power plants must be used to guarantee supply, the government plans an accelerated expansion of renewable energies and a declining demand for natural gas and coal-fired power generation is projected for the medium term, they write. “Thus, the goal of a coal phase-out brought forward to 2030, as envisaged in the coalition agreement, remains achievable.”

19 April

Not clear how fast Germany can wean itself off Russian gas – chancellor Scholz

Germany is in the process of weaning itself off Russian fossil fuel supplies, but it is unclear how fast this could be done when it comes to natural gas, says chancellor Olaf Scholz during a press conference. “As far as gas is concerned, you know our very ambitious plans to build pipelines and terminals at the greatest possible pace, the likes of which have not been seen in Germany in the last 50 years. We'll tell you how quickly we'll be done with it when we've done it. But we want to be much faster than all the plans, and that is what we are pushing with great ambition.”

EU aims to include oil in next sanctions package on Russia, says European Commission president

The European Union aims to include oil supplies in its next sanction package, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen tells Bild Zeitung. She warns that prices will go up on the global markets, potentially giving Russia higher revenues when it sells oil to markets other than the EU. “The ultimate goal is to shrink (Russian president Vladimir) Putin's revenues,” she says. “That is why we are developing clever mechanisms so that oil can also be included in the next sanctions.”

German energy supply not sufficiently secure, says E.ON head

The CEO of German energy company E.ON, Leonhard Birnbaum, tells Handelsblatt that the war against Ukraine and its consequences have shown that the country’s energy supply is “not sufficiently” secure. “We have learned in recent weeks that strategic dependencies can be problematic. And we have learned the hard way that we as Europe, but especially as Germany, did not have security of supply sufficiently on our radar,” he says. Germany would need three years to become independent of Russian gas supplies, says Birnbaum, but warns that the country should not see this as a national issue. “If we think we can secure German supply without taking care of the other states together, it will tear the EU apart.”

Greenpeace proposes levy on payments for Russian gas

Due to rising prices, German could transfer even higher sums in return for oil and gas to Russia, Greenpeace Germany has calculated in a new analysis. Germany's expenditure on Russian oil could rise from 11.4 billion euros to 14.3 billion euros in 2022 compared to the previous year. The import of gas could double and the total bill could amount to 31.8 billion euros this year, corresponding to 75 percent of the regime’s 2020 military budget, Greenpeace says. A state-imposed levy on the fixed reference price of gas would reduce Russia’s profit margin; another option would be a price cap. Such a cap could be based on pre-war prices which for example between 2015-2020 stood at 16 euros per megawatt-hour, considerably less than the current 100 €/MWh, Greenpeace writes.

German state leader under pressure over involvement in Nord Stream 2

Leading German politicians call for a probe into the role played by Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania's state premier Manuela Schwesig in the controversial Russian-German natural gas pipeline project Nord Stream 2. “How the government in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania made itself a henchman of Nord Stream 2 in order to promote the construction of the Baltic Sea pipeline urgently needs to be investigated,” says Green Party MP Anton Hofreiter.

Fracking still not an option for Germany, says econ and climate minister

Sourcing more natural gas domestically by using fracking is still not an option for Germany, even in the light of an ensuing energy shortage if Russian gas supplies stopped flowing, economy and climate minister Robert Habeck says.

Finance ministry approves €3 billion for floating LNG terminals

The German finance ministry approves the spending of up to three billion euros from the budget to finance floating terminals for liquified natural gas (LNG) in German ports.

Protesters criticise government’s fossil energy plans

Climate activists from the "The Last Generation" (Letzte Generation) movement protest the fossil energy policy of the federal government. They mock the construction of what they call the “Qatar Stream” pipeline in front of the economy ministry in Berlin to criticise Berlin’s gas supply deals with the Arab country, and smear black paint onto the building to protest oil extraction plans in the North Sea.

14 April

Russia’s influence in EU nuclear power projects shown by Siemens Energy cooperation

Europe’s energy dependence on Russia is not limited to fossil fuels but also extends to nuclear power, and German company Siemens Energy’s continued cooperation with Russia’s state-owned nuclear power company Rosatom illustrates the complex nature of Russia’s role in European energy supply, newspaper Tageszeitung (taz) reports. Many reactors in the EU depend on nuclear fuel supplies from Russia and also the construction of planned new reactors in Finland and in Hungary hinges on cooperation with Rosatom. Together with French company Framatome, Siemens Energy provides instrumentations and control units to the planned nuclear power stations.

13 April

German economy would shrink by 2% in case of embargo on Russian energy – economists

Germany is facing a 2-percent drop in its GDP in 2023 in case of an immediate halt to imports of Russian oil, gas and coal, leading economic institutes said in their joint forecast. This is in line with other recent forecasts, but stands in contrast to warnings by the government that a halt especially to gas imports from Russia would plunge Germany and Europe into a deep recession. Germany is under pressure from other EU member states to agree to a full embargo on Russian fossil fuels.

Government parties’ MPs call for quick EU oil embargo on Russia after visit to Ukraine

Three high-ranking MPs from Germany’s government coalition parties have called for a quick EU embargo on Russian oil after a visit to Ukraine. “The EU should impose an oil embargo on Russia as soon as possible,” Social Democrat (SPD) Michael Roth, head of the parliament’s foreign affairs committee, said in a report carried by public broadcaster ARD. Banning Russian oil imports would be an important signal, as it would target one of the Russian government’s main sources of income. An EU embargo could come with a transition phase similar to that planned for coal imports, Roth added. Also, Free Democrat (FDP) Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann, head of the defence committee, and the Green Party’s Anton Hofreiter, head of the European affairs committee, said they endorsed a quick ban on imports. “This could be done within weeks, as there are other suppliers,” Hofreiter said, adding that he was opposed to long transition phases.  

Grid agency head calls on German households to turn down heating

The new head of Germany‘s Federal Network Agency (BNetzA), Klaus Müller, has appealed to citizens and businesses to reduce their energy consumption. “Everything that saves just one cubic metre of gas is a good thing,” Müller told the news website n-tv in an interview. “Each and every one is called to action here,“ he said. The agency head said heating systems in private homes could be turned down to 17 degrees Celsius to save money and energy. Moreover, consumers should review the way they use their heating and whether it could be done more efficiently. Taking warm showers “seven times a week” would also be something citizens should reconsider. Müller said he was worried about the country’s gas storage filling levels. While current levels have stabilised again and now stand at nearly 30 percent, it would be a long way still to achieve the new gas storage law’s goal of 90 percent by the end of the year. “There’s still a lot of work to be done.”

12 April

Government considers expropriation of energy companies – media report

The economy and climate ministry is considering the expropriation of energy companies with the help of a reform of the energy security law, reports Funke Mediengruppe. Companies that operate critical energy infrastructure could be placed under fiduciary management "if there is a concrete danger that without a fiduciary administration the company will not fulfil its tasks serving the functioning of the community in the energy sector and there is a threat of an impairment of the security of supply.” In extreme cases, companies could even be expropriated.

11 April

Vattenfall stops buying Russian coal for Berlin power plants

Utility company Vattenfall, which operates two coal power plants in the city state of Berlin, will not buy any more hard coal from Russia. The company is currently looking into which alternative coal sources are suitable and affordable, a spokesperson told public broadcaster rbb. Vattenfall also operates five gas-fired thermal power stations in Berlin, for which it mainly uses Russian gas. Around one-third of Berlin households also receive their heating – via a district heating network – from the Vattenfall plants.

Petrol and diesel cheaper in most countries neighbouring Germany

The Netherlands and Denmark were the only neighbouring countries where petrol was more expensive than in Germany in the beginning of April, while diesel cost the most in Germany compared to its neighbours, reports the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis). Drivers in Germany paid a daily average of 2.06 euros for both a litre of Super E5 and a litre of diesel on 4 April 2022. Among the countries directly bordering Germany, prices were lowest in Poland but also lower in Austria, Luxembourg, the Czech Republic, Belgium and France.

10 April

Germany should examine fracking, says Bavarian state premier

Germany should look into the option of using fracking technology to extract domestic natural gas in light of the energy crisis exacerbated by Russia’s war against Ukraine, said Markus Söder, premier of the southern German state of Bavaria. “We have to examine what is possible and reasonable with an open mind,” said Söder.

8 April

Germany agrees state aid for companies affected by rising energy prices

The government has agreed on a support package for German businesses affected by the war in Ukraine and sanctions against Russia – such as rising energy prices. “Doing nothing is not an option in this situation,“ finance minister Christian Lindner from the Free Democrats (FDP) said. However, the government could not suspend market forces forever or set wrong incentives with respect to the use of fossil energies. “We don’t want to curb structural economic change but prevent structural disruption,” Lindner said.

New gas extraction plans near German North Sea national park gain traction

Plans for starting new natural gas extraction off Germany’s North Sea coast are making progress despite protests by local residents and environmental groups. The economy minister of the state of Lower Saxony, Bernd Althusmann from the conservative CDU, is pushing for a rapid decision in light of the energy supply crisis resulting from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. “Optimistically, we can expect to have gas flowing by 2024, perhaps 2025,” Althusmann said.

7 April

Kazakhstan’s ambassador to Germany says country ready to replace Russia as resource supplier

Kazakhstan could become an alternative trading partner for Germany and the EU that can offer much of the goods and resources so far coming from Russia, the country’s ambassador to Germany, Dauren Karipov, told business weekly WirtschaftsWoche in an interview. The central-Asian country “has significant potential to increase Germany’s supply with conventional energy sources but also for producing and later exporting green energy,” Karipov said. “Kazakhstan is ready to quickly ramp up the economic and trading relations with Germany in a comprehensive manner,” he argued. Besides fossil fuels and renewable power, the country could offer resources like rare earth minerals, copper, gold and also food crops. “We’d be happy to welcome [economy and climate] minister Robert Habeck” to discuss further trade options, the ambassador said.

German economy ministry publishes advice to save energy in households

After keeping pleas to the public to use less energy to a minimum amid the Ukraine war and the ensuing energy crisis so far, the German government has now launched an efficieny advice campaign for households. Households in Germany cover around 60 percent of their energy needs with natural gas, oil and coal, the economy and climate ministry (BMWK) said. To reach the goal of climate neutrality and gain independence [from fossil fuel deliveries], “the best kind of energy is the one we do not consume in the first place”, the ministry said on the efficiency campaign website.

6 April

Germany boosts renewables with “biggest energy policy reform in decades”

Germany wants to fight the climate crisis and its heavy dependence on fossil fuel imports by speeding up the rollout of renewables with a massive overhaul of key energy legislation. In the “biggest energy policy reform in decades,” the coalition of Social Democrats (SPD), Greens and Free Democrats (FDP) proposes to lift the rollout of wind and solar power “to a completely new level” in a draft law amounting to more than 500 pages.

German industry supports Russian coal embargo, but warns against stopping gas imports

German industry association BDI said it supports the European Commission's proposal to ban the import of coal from Russia in reaction to possible Russian war crimes in Ukraine, but warned against extending the ban to gas imports. "The implementation is not easy and has its price, but the decision is more than understandable against the backdrop of the escalation of violence," the lobby group's head, Siegfried Russwurm, said. Russia's actions require targeted sanctions that are sustainable in the long term and don’t hurt Europeans more than Russia, the BDI said.

Italy’s consent to possible EU gas embargo on Russia ups pressure on German govt – media

A decision by the Italian government to support an EU-wide embargo on Russian gas imports increasingly marginalises the German government with its opposition to such a step over fears it could lead to severe damages to the economy and social order, newspaper Die Welt reports. “In the western camp, only Austria and Hungary are still on a similar course,” the article says. Italy, like Germany, is among the EU countries relying most on gas and other fossil fuels from Russia, but the country’s foreign minister, Luigi Di Maio, said Italy would not veto sanctions imposed by the EU on Russia’s gas industry. Italy’s government made the announcement following allegations of atrocities committed against Ukrainian civilians by the Russian army, which according to Di Maio would require a “strong reaction” that could not be hampered by economic considerations.

SPD state premier regrets insisting on Nord Stream 2, directs funds to Ukraine

The state premier of the northern German state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Manuela Schwesig from the Social Democrats (SPD), has said she regrets her insistence on finishing the now suspended Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project with Russia, which would have made landfall in her state. “With my knowledge today, insisting on Nord Stream 2 has been a mistake,” Schwesig said. Her state government had set up a “Climate Action Fund” co-funded with 20 million euros from Russia after former U.S. president Donald Trump imposed sanctions on companies involved in the project to ensure its completion, a move that Schwesig likewise called a mistake after dissolving the fund in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Schwesig said her state government had “acted on the premise that everyone, including everyone in Russia, has an interest in stable peace in Europe.” Russian president Vladimir Putin had eradicated this principle, she argued. The fund’s capital will be directed to support Ukraine, Schwesig added. The state’s opposition Christian Democrats (CDU) said Schwesig’s and the SPD’s motivation would not have been the interest of citizens but currying favour among voters by taking a lenient position towards Russia despite resistance by Germany’s neighbours and allies.

5 April

Germany must speed up green hydrogen scale-up in reaction to war – government advisors

Germany must accelerate the ramp-up of a hydrogen economy in response to Russia's aggressions to secure and diversify its energy supply, according to the hydrogen council (NWR), which advises the government. "The changed geopolitical situation due to the war in Ukraine makes it necessary to act quickly, decisively and flexibly in creating the necessary framework conditions for the hydrogen ramp-up," the council said. "In the medium term, hydrogen can contribute significantly to security of supply and diversification."

Environment minister reiterates nuclear plants no longer play role in energy security

Extending the runtime of Germany’s remaining three nuclear power plants is not an option even if energy supply security has become an urgent aim for the government, environment minister Steffi Lemke from the Green Party told the Bonner Generalanzeiger in an interview. “The share of the remaining three nuclear power plants in the electricity mix is not so large that we should accept the risks associated with a lifetime extension. The fact that nuclear power is a high-risk technology is being tragically demonstrated to us by the war in Ukraine,” Lemke, whose ministry is also responsible for nuclear safety, said. She said coal-fired power plants will be kept in reserve longer to gain wiggle room in energy security. Continuing operation of the remaining nuclear plants would only be possible with a long-term perspective for operators, heavy state support and concessions on safety. “In this crisis we need more safety, not more risk,” she said.

Chemicals producer BASF warns gas supply cut would disrupt economy and food security

A shutdown of Germany’s largest chemicals producer BASF due to a shortage of natural gas could have grave consequences for industrial production chains in Europe and global food security, business weekly WirtschaftsWoche reports. BASF with its vast production facility complex in south-western city Ludwigshafen produces essential base materials like ammonia that are used in many industrial products and, crucially, also in fertiliser production, for which the company is one of the world’s biggest suppliers. The chemicals producer is one of Germany’s largest natural gas consumers and uses about 60 percent Russian gas for its European facilities which would be difficult to replace in the short run. BASF CEO Martin Brudermüller said supply must not fall below 50 percent of full demand to avoid disruptions and ideally would remain at least at 70 percent.

4 April

Germany takes control of Gazprom unit to ensure gas supply security

The German government has temporarily taken control of Gazprom Germania, a subsidiary of Russian energy supplier Gazprom, to ensure gas supply security. Economy and climate minister Robert Habeck announced that the Federal Network Agency (BNetzA) will become fiduciary of the unit, which operates “critical infrastructure in Germany and is therefore of outstanding importance for the gas supply” until 30 September 2022. The move comes after it emerged that Gazprom had disposed of the unit, which includes energy supplier Wingas and gas storage firm Astora. The economy ministry said “unclear legal circumstances” had made the action necessary. The government is doing “what is necessary” to uphold security of supply in Germany, he said. “This also includes not exposing energy infrastructures in Germany to arbitrary decisions by the Kremlin.” As fiduciary, the grid agency is authourised to remove members of the management and appoint new members and to issue instructions to the management, the economy ministry said.

German govt continues to reject sudden halt to energy trading with Russia

A rapid embargo on Russian energy deliveries would hurt Germany much more than Russia, which is why the government continues to oppose such a step, Oliver Krischer, Green Party state secretary in the climate and economy ministry, said according to news website Der Spiegel. Reports about atrocities committed by the Russian army in Ukraine added pressure on western governments to respond. Krischer said the images of possible war crimes against civilians in the war-torn country would mean Germany must examine all possible means to reduce dependence on Russian energy as quickly as possible to achieve “a de facto embargo” by no longer buying or using Russian supplies. This could be done with “concrete proposals for saving, substituting and diversifying” energy sources.

3 April

German defence minister calls for debate on ending Russian gas deliveries

In a reaction to reports on possible war crimes against civilians by the Russian army in Ukraine, defence minister Christine Lambrecht (SPD) has called for an EU debate “within the next hours” on completely suspending gas trade with Russia. “There has to be a reaction. Such crimes must not remain unanswered,” Lambrecht told public broadcaster ARD. “It’s been our strength [in the EU] so far that no country pushed ahead alone but that we acted in close cooperation on the things that are endurable. The same thing needs to happen in the next hours.”

1 April

Government mulls expropriation of Russian gas and oil companies

The German economy and climate ministry is considering the expropriation of Russian companies Gazprom and Rosneft, Handelsblatt reports. The move comes amid concerns for national energy security, as Gazprom Germania operates large gas storage facilities and Rosneft Germany operates petrol, diesel and kerosene refineries. While playing a major role in the German energy market, the two companies have been alienated by business partners and banks since Russia’s attack on Ukraine and could fall into “technical bankruptcy”, Reuters writes. To avoid this, the government is thinking about stepping in, ministry officials told Handelsblatt.

Siemens and BASF warn Russian gas supply cuts would cause severe damage

The heads of Germany’s large, energy intensive companies have warned against severe damages that would be caused by a stop to Russian gas deliveries. “If we cut off Russian gas deliveries, the repercussions will be dramatic,” Christian Bruch, CEO of Siemens Energy told Handelsblatt. For some industries, a steady gas supply is existential, said Bruch. “Just take the glass industry. Once the systems go cold, they're gone,” he said, adding that it was questionable whether the affected companies would invest in Germany again afterwards. BASF head Martin Brudermüller even warned of an unprecedented economic downturn that could “submit the German economy into its worst crisis since the end of the Second World War,” he told Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung. An embargo on Russian gas would threaten the existence of small and medium-sized companies in particular, he said, adding that it would take four to five years to substitute the Russian deliveries with other sources. At the BASF plant in Ludwigshafen 40,000 employees could be affected, in addition to many products that are needed in the value chains of groceries and medicines, he said.

Europeans reject demands to pay for gas in roubles

In the latest twist of how Russian gas may be paid for by European buyers, Russian president Vladimir Putin said on 31 March that buyers should open special accounts in state-controlled Gazprombank to allow foreign currency to be swapped to roubles for settlements. If this wasn’t adhered to from 1 April,“we will consider this a failure by the client to comply with its obligations”, Putin said. After Putin’s announcement, German chancellor Olaf Scholz said that the contracts specify payments in euros or US dollars. “In any case, it is true for [European] companies that they want, can and will pay in euros,” Scholz said. Economy and climate minister Robert Habeck said in an evening talk show on ZDF television, that it wasn’t quite clear what Putin’s latest demand meant. The companies would transfer euros and dollars as usual, and the rest would depend on Russia's reaction, he said.

Minister warns that “physical issues” stand in the way of substituting Russian fossil fuels

There are “physical issues” that stand in the way of simply substituting Russian fossil fuels with other sources, Germany’s economy and climate minister Robert Habeck says. “We are looking for trains that can transport oil, when there isn’t enough oil in the east of the country. And, surprise, there aren’t that many,” he said. The same was true for the non-existent LNG terminals that could help with gas supplies, he said.

Much of the German oil and gas infrastructure is geared towards receiving supplies through Russian pipelines from the east and distributing these towards the rest of the country. Switching this infrastructure to reverse flows is a complex and time-consuming undertaking.

31 March

Germany says to still pay for Russian gas in euros/dollars after Scholz-Putin call

A day before a deadline set by Russian President Vladimir Putin to organise a currency switch for gas trade with “unfriendly countries”, Reuters reports that the government plans to keep the contract currency for gas exports to Europe unchanged but will seek final payment in roubles.

The German government said Putin explained the plan to Chancellor Olaf Scholz in a phone call. Putin said the payments would continue to be made exclusively in euros and transferred as usual to Gazprom Bank, which was not affected by the sanctions. The bank would then convert the money into roubles. "Scholz did not agree to this procedure in the conversation, but asked for written information to better understand the procedure," said the German government.

Gas and oil industry calls for “ideally slightly more” domestic production

The head of the federal association of natural gas, petroleum and geo-energy (BVEG) Ludwig Möhring has emphasised the role of domestic German natural gas production. “Our goal is to maintain production at the current level and ideally even expand it slightly,” he told newspaper Welt. “This value of supply security must be recognised and raised.” German domestic production has covered only about 5 percent of the country’s consumption in recent years. However, as more than a quarter of German energy needs are covered by natural gas, Germany is “well advised to take all resources seriously,” said Möhring.

30 March

Germany prepares for Russian cuts to gas supplies by issuing 'early warning'

Germany has triggered the first stage of its national gas supply emergency plan over fears that Russia might soon cut supplies if it doesn't receive payments from foreign buyers in roubles. The government called on all consumers to save energy and make existing supplies last longer, with gas storage levels currently running at 25 percent. The declaration of the "early warning" stage is a precautionary measure and supplies are safe for the time being, said economy minister Robert Habeck.

29 March

War must be turning point for Europe in ending Russia’s energy blackmail – Ukraine deputy minister

Russia’s war against Ukraine is an attack on the unity and future of Europe and its nations and must represent a turning point for the continent’s energy policy, says deputy energy minister of Ukraine Yaroslav Demchenkov at the Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue. European countries should not veer off their “planet green course”, says the minister who was greeted with much applause from the audience. “The war and the current energy crisis should be a turning point for Europe in ending Russia’s energy blackmail and achieving global decarbonisation goals.”

Energy transition can and must happen faster in light of war - minister

Russia’s war against the Ukraine has increased the pressure on Germany and Europe to speed up their energy transition as a way to not only fight climate change, but also lessen dependence on Russian energy, says economy and climate minister Robert Habeck (Green Party). “We can do what we had to do anyway to combat the great structural crisis of our time, namely galloping global warming [...], we can now do it much more quickly under great pressure and against a tragic backdrop,” says Habeck. “And we must do so.” With the right energy policy, countries could create a climate-neutral society, increase the prosperity of nations and promote peace in the world. “You cannot steal the wind, the sun belongs to no one,“ he says.

28 March

G7 call on gas importers not to comply with Russian rouble demands

After a meeting with his G7 counterparts, German economy and climate minister Robert Habeck said on Monday (28 March) that Putin's demand to only receive payment for gas deliveries to Europe in roubles was a breach of contract and therefore unacceptable. G7 ministers are calling on the companies concerned to not comply with Moscow's demand, he said. "Putin's attempt to divide us is obvious, but our great unity and determination shows that we will not be divided," Habeck said, adding that Germany’s approach of gradually becoming independent of Russian fossil fuel imports is accepted by G7 partners.

27 March

German chancellor Olaf Scholz reiterated on public television that a full energy embargo on Russia would risk “an incredible number of jobs” and would trigger “a considerable economic crisis”

25 March

No fuel embargo on Russia by EU

European leaders will not immediately pursue a fossil fuel embargo against Russia, the outcome of a summit concluding on the evening of 25 March shows. In their summit declaration, they said that the European Commission should present by the end of May a plan on how to cut energy dependency on Russia as soon as possible. German chancellor Olaf Scholz also remained critical of a proposal for energy price caps, pursued in particular by southern European countries but voiced support for a proposal for voluntary common gas and hydrogen purchases by EU countries.

Letting nuclear power run longer might require higher gas use in summer – econ min

This week’s escalation of the gas crisis ensuing from Russian president Vladimir Putin’s announcement to only accept payments in roubles for gas deliveries has again led to calls by politicians to let Germany’s nuclear power stations run longer. In order to save natural gas, the three remaining plants, which are currently providing between six and ten percent of Germany’s power supply and are scheduled for shutdown at the end of the year, should be kept running, Bavaria’s state premier Markus Söder said. But federal economy and climate minister Robert Habeck said on Friday, 25 March, that the current analysis of his ministry showed that for next winter this wouldn’t help. His ministry would reconsider in light of the latest developments, he said, but explained that for now the fuel elements are projected to last until the end of the year. Although it could be stretched by generating less nuclear power over the summer, this would then require the use of more gas and coal during that time. “That doesn't really work out, because the point is to save gas,” Habeck said.

24 March

Germany lowers petrol and public transport prices to relieve citizens

Germany’s government coalition decides a wide-ranging relief package to help shield citizens from rising energy costs exacerbated by Russia’s war against Ukraine. The government plans to introduce a 300-euro tax bonus for employed persons, lower the energy tax on fuels to the European minimum and offer 9-euro-per-month public transport tickets for the next 90 days.

Germany must trigger gas emergency plans after Putin's rouble demands - energy industry

Vladimir Putin’s announcement to only accept payment in roubles for gas deliveries to Europe rattles Germany’s energy industry and sents natural gas prices soaring. Economy minister Robert Habeck calls Russia’s move a “breach of contracts,” and the energy industry says that an “early warning alert” should be announced on the national emergency gas supply plan.

Ukraine war triggers surge in demand for renewable heating systems

The Ukraine war sharply increases demand for renewable heating systems, such as heat pumps, according to manufacturers. "We feel a huge surge in demand for renewable solutions," says Frank Voßloh, who is in charge of heating equipment maker Viessmann's German operations, at a conference in Berlin.

Lower Saxony requests state funding for four liquified natural gas projects

The energy minister of Lower Saxony calls on the German federal government to provide partial funding for four liquified natural gas (LNG) terminals in his state, Der Spiegel reports.

State of Brandenburg calls for delayed decommissioning of two lignite power units

In a letter addressed to federal economy minister Robert Habeck, the economy minister of the state of Brandenburg, Jörg Steinbach, called for two lignite power units in Jänschwalde not to be decommissioned as planned in 2022/23, reports public broadcaster rbb. Keeping these in reserve could help guarantee supply security if gas power plants are not able to run due to a shortage of fuel. The government coalition had authorised the federal network agency (BNetzA) to decide whether or not to keep certain coal plants in reserve and halt their decommissioning process.

23 March

Germany warns sudden halt of Russian energy imports would plunge Europe into recession

A sudden stop of energy imports from Russia would threaten "hundreds of thousands of jobs" and push Europe's economy into recession, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz warns. He says Germany will end its energy dependence as quickly as possible by speeding up the rollout of renewables and taking steps to save energy. With a view to EU leaders' pending discussions about the energy crisis, German industry warns the bloc is unprepared for a short-term embargo and must not take "hasty reactions with incalculable consequences”.

22 March

Environment minister warns against neglecting climate change because of Ukraine war

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine shifts the focus away from other crises, but putting ecological issues on the back burner would be a “completely wrong approach”, environment minister Steffi Lemke tells lawmakers during a budget debate in the Bundestag, reports Welt. The answer to the war in Ukraine, as well as to concerns about energy security, must not be: "We throw climate and nature protection plans overboard and get back into nuclear power," the minister warns.

High need for gas grid transformation to wean Europe off Russian supply – researchers

The European gas infrastructure would have to be changed quickly and extensively to be able to maintain supply in the event of an embargo or export ban on supplies from Russia, but researchers say the full extent of the transformation cannot be estimated.

Nickel shortage caused by Ukraine war could endanger e-mobility transition

German carmakers warn a nickel shortage caused by the war in Ukraine could endanger the transition to electric mobility.

21 March

Germany agrees energy deal with Qatar to lessen dependence on Russian gas supply

Germany’s economy and climate minister Robert Habeck launches an energy partnership with the Emir of Qatar which includes both the supply of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and cooperation on renewables. “It’s the Ukraine crisis which has brought me here – the attempt to wean ourselves off Russian coal, oil and gas as quickly as possible,” says Habeck. As a top global LNG supplier, Qatar could play an important role for Germany and the government. “The good news is that [the gas] will be made available. Now it is up to the companies to sign the contracts,” says Habeck.

Government coalition debates “mobility bonus” to cushion rising fuel prices

The German government coalition partners debate ways to lower the burden on citizens as energy prices have increased substantially over the past months. While the Social Democrats (SPD) and the Green Party had rejected a proposal by Germany’s finance minister Christian Lindner (FDP) for a blanket reduction of the price for petrol, financed through the state budget, the government now considers a “mobility bonus”. The SPD proposes this monthly payment to lower-income households, and the amount would depend on the income.

18 March

German govt’s climate policy has been through baptism of fire in first 100 days

The new German three-party coalition under chancellor Olaf Scholz had started its term at the end of last year with optimism to launch a vigorous climate action programme after two difficult years in a pandemic. But the “traffic light coalition” of Scholz’s SPD, the Greens and the pro-business FDP was not granted an easy start, as its first 100 days in office saw the first outbreak of a major international war in Europe since 1939. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has let Scholz’ government little onboarding time, instead prompting it into one of the sharpest u-turns in energy and security policy in decades. But while the war that has brought great misery to Ukraine also confounded German and European policy plans, the government still enjoys credit among voters that it can deliver change. Yet, the dangerous spiral of rising prices needs to be addressed if this support is to be sustained, observers warn.

Germany can cope with a lot less Russian gas, but not entirely without it - analysis

Germany can save enough energy to make itself almost independent from Russian gas within five years, but not entirely, a paper by think tank Agora Energiewende, consultancy Prognos and the Wuppertal Institut finds. Having looked at several scenarios for shorter and long-term gas savings, the researchers conclude that, by 2027, a significant increase in energy efficiency, expansion of renewable energies and the electrification of industrial processes and heating could reduce Germany’s gas demand by around one-fifth or about 200 terawatt-hours.

Industry warns govt proposal for gas reserves could undermine supply security

Gas storage operators and Germany's energy industry warn that the economy and climate ministry's law proposal aimed at ensuring sufficient gas supply could instead undermine supply security. The draft law provides for minimum fill levels at certain times of the year, and states that storage users can be deprived of booked capacities if they do not use them. The German energy industry association BDEWsays the withdrawal of booked capacities could easily become counterproductive.

Government says it will launch 'major efficiency programme' soon

The German government announces a comprehensive programme for energy savings as part of its push to reduce Germany's dependence on fossil fuel imports. "As the federal government, we will soon launch a major efficiency programme," says economics and climate minister Robert Habeck.

17 March

Govt investigates why petrol prices have remained high despite falling oil prices

The German government instructs the country's cartel authorities to look into the recent spike of diesel and petrol prices and to take action on any indication of abusive behaviour. The cartel office says it was suspicious that prices at the pump have not followed the recent downward trend on oil markets.

Germany mulls hydrogen pipeline from Norway in bid to lessen dependence on Russian gas imports

Germany and Norway will consider building a hydrogen pipeline between the two countries in a bid to reduce Europe's dependence on Russian fossil gas. "It has been agreed that a joint review will be conducted with a view to make large-scale transport, including via pipeline, of hydrogen from Norway to Germany possible. We plan to rapidly commission a joint feasibility study on this," the countries say in a joint statement.

16 March

Energy industry calls for 'igniting the PV turbo' to reduce Germany's import dependence

Germany must urgently and massively step up the rollout of solar power in order to become more independent from Russian energy imports and reach its climate targets, the country's leading energy industry association BDEW says. "The German government must now remove existing obstacles as quickly as possible in order to ignite the PV turbo this year. Time is pressing," saysBDEW head Kerstin Andreae.

15 March

Environmental groups reject German finance minister’s fuel price subsidy plan

Several NGOs have rejected a proposal by Germany’s finance minister Christian Lindner (FDP) to reduce the price for petrol that skyrocketed in the wake of Russia’s attack on Ukraine through a state subsidy. “A petrol price subsidy would be an expensive support tool that encourages greater use of fossil energy sources instead of saving energy,” the head of environmental group NABU, Jörg-Andreas Krüger, said. While the state should be supporting struggling customers financially, this should not thwart the general trend towards reducing fossil fuel use and supporting more environmentally friendly alternatives, he argued. “The most effective fuel price brake is efficient cars – or even better, those that do without oil altogether.”

Support for nuclear and coal power rising among Germans in view of soaring energy prices - survey

In the face of soaring energy prices, exacerbated by the war in Ukraine, people in Germany are increasingly in favour of nuclear power if it can reduce costs, according to a survey commissioned by price comparison site Verivox. The survey found that 40 percent of respondents wanted to retain nuclear and coal-fired power plants for the time being in order to dampen the high electricity prices – nearly twice as many as just four years ago.

14 March

Germany plans new energy price relief for consumers

The German government plans a new relief package to help consumers cope with rising energy prices. The price increases overburden many people, says Green economy and climate minister Robert Habeck. "Extremely high heating costs, extremely high electricity prices, extremely high fuel prices are a burden on households, and the lower the incomes, the more so. The federal government will therefore launch another relief package," Habeck said. Finance minister Christian Lindner, a Free Democrat (FDP), wants to launch a fuel subsidy to lower petrol prices by about 20 cents per litre or even more.

Government debates new oil and gas production in North Sea

Germany's coalition government ponders the possibility of new drilling for gas and oil in the North Sea as a step towards more independence from Russian imports. Finance minister Christian Lindner from the Free Democrats (FDP) said the coalition should urgently revisit its agreement to ban such new drilling. The Greens say they are open to the proposal under the condition that other steps to lower short term demand are also considered, for example a motorway speed limit.

Majority of Germans is in favour of oil and gas embargo against Russia - survey

A majority of Germans is in favour of stopping oil and gas imports from Russia even if an embargo would lead to supply problems in the country. In a survey by public broadcaster ZDF, 55 percent of respondents support an import ban, while while 39 percent are against. To secure energy supply, 92 percent of respondents support a faster roll-out of renewables. But the survey also reveals majority support for extending nuclear and coal usage for supply security.

11 March

North Sea islands worried about gas drilling plans near national park 

The German North Sea island of Borkum has voiced concerns over plans by the state government of Lower Saxony to allow gas drilling near the Wadden Sea marine national park. “The planned ONE-Dyas platform simply is too close to the national park,” Borkum’s mayor Jürgen Akkermann told public broadcaster NDR. While there is a border for the national park on maps, this would mean little to ocean currents in reality, Akkermann said, arguing that pollution by fossil fuel production would be a veritable risk. The concerns are shared by representatives of other islands in the region straddling Germany and the Netherlands, with eight of them already calling for a stop to any plans to ramp up drilling activities there. Dutch company ONE-Dyas B.V. plans to drill for gas in Dutch waters, about 500 metres from the sea border to Germany and 20 kilometres off Borkum. About 60 billion cubic metres of gas ready for extraction are estimated to rest in the region’s soil. Lower Saxony originally rejected the plans but reconsidered its position following Russia’s attack on Ukraine.

Energy minister visits coast region to swiftly proceed with LNG terminal plans

Energy minister Robert Habeck (Green Party) made a visit to Germany’s coastal state of Schleswig-Holstein in a bid to prepare a quick implementation of the government’s plans to build a terminal for liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal in the North Sea port of Brunsbüttel. Habeck plans to meet with representatives of energy company RWE and the German LNG industry consortium, as well as with environmental and civil society groups. “We will need gas and especially LNG if we want to free ourselves from dependence on Russia,” Habeck said, arguing that building terminals would help to improve energy security in Germany and Europe. “At the same time, we factor in the switch to green hydrogen and hydrogen derivatives like ammonia right from the start. That’s how we get on track towards climate neutrality and create the conditions for it.”

Bavarian steelworks pause production because of high power costs

Bavaria's last remaining steel mill has repeatedly halted production because of high energy costs. Prices exceeded the limit for profitable production five days in a row, said Lech-Stahlwerke manager Thomas Friedrich. The steelworks use the same amount of electricity as a city with 300,000 inhabitants.

10 March

70 percent of German industrial companies expect serious energy price strains

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and its growing conflict with the West is leading to increasing uncertainty and concern in Germany’s business sector, the German Economic Institute (IW) says. In its survey of 200 companies during the first week of the war, the IW found that 62 percent of them expect either large or very large burdens as a result of increased energy prices. Among industrial firms, that figure was 70 percent.

German utilities call for emergency funding amid energy crisis

The German Association of Local Utilities (VKU) calls for government assistance in the form of financial security, namely emergency and bridging loans from state development banks, as well as energy tax cuts. “In addition to large suppliers and energy traders, municipal utilities are also systemically important and must therefore be jointly protected against imbalances due to short-term price fluctuations,” VKU says.

EU climate plans must become 'Apollo programme for energy sovereignty' – NGOs

The European Parliament and the EU member states must insist on improvements to the European Commission's insufficient plans for emission reduction to rapidly make the bloc more independent from fossil fuels, an alliance of German environmental associations says. "We are counting on the German government to make the 'Fit for 55' package the European Apollo programme for energy sovereignty," says Kai Niebert of the environmental umbrella organisation DNR.

Broad alliance calls for ban on Russian energy imports in open letter

A broad alliance of more than 100 prominent intellectuals, climate activists, authors and scientists calls for a ban on Russian fossil energy imports in an open letter addressed to the German government. "We all finance this war," the letter states, calling for the protection of poor households from the effects of an import embargo. Social peace in Germany should not be played off against peace in Ukraine, the letter says. The government has warned that halting Russian energy imports would put social peace in Germany at risk. 

9 March

Germany must transform power system 'at Tesla speed' but tread carefully regarding Russian imports - econ min

The pivot away from Russian energy imports will require Germany to double down on its energy transition efforts and apply a speed similar to that of Tesla with its new factory near Berlin, economy and climate minister Robert Habeck said at a press conference following a meeting with state minister colleagues. “We cannot continue at our dozy pace,” Habeck said. The minister defended Germany’s careful treading regarding a full halt to energy trading with Russia after its attack on Ukraine, arguing that a complete halt to trading would “not mean just inconveniences at the individual level but immense damages to the entire society that ultimately could undermine other sanctions” against Russia.

Russian energy import ban is possible if Germany uses more coal – PIK director

Europe could manage to stop Russian energy imports by using more coal for power production in the short term, said the director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), Ottmar Edenhofer. "Yes, we could cope with enforcing this import ban," Edenhofer said, arguing that "you don't have to slavishly follow phase-out dates as long as the emissions cap is met."

MP proposes “car-free Sundays“ as an option to reduce energy demand in Germany

Social Democratic MP Nina Scheer suggests that private citizens can contribute more to save energy in light of the Russian war on Ukraine. Scheer proposes a revival of “car-free Sundays”, four of which were implemented during the oil crisis of 1973. “Car-free Sundays have not harmed us in the past and could also make a contribution today if a corresponding shortage requires it," Scheer says. Green party energy and climate expert Ingrid Nestle also suggests to “empower people to be mindful of their energy use,” for example with basic information on the effects of slightly lowering the room temperature, or using a washing line instead of a dryer.

Head of coal state wants to stick to earlier exit date

Coal mining state and industrial hub North Rhine-Westphalia aims to phase out coal by 2030, the date that the federal government is aiming for, state premier Hendrik Wüst (CDU) says according to a dpa report. It is clear that “the hope of being able to replace coal with Russian gas for a transitional period has now been dashed,” Wüst says. But as long as power supply is secure and energy prices remain affordable, his government would continue to support a quick end of coal, he says.

8 March

Extending nuclear plants’ runtime not advisable, German govt concludes

Germany’s government has concluded that prolonging the runtime of its remaining nuclear power plants is not advisable even in the current energy crisis sparked by the Russian invasion on Ukraine. “Following a cost-benefit analysis, a longer runtime for the three remaining nuclear plants is not advisable even in light of the current gas crisis,” a report drafted by the two Green Party-led ministries for climate and economy (BMWK) and for the environment and nuclear safety (BMUV) found.

Chancellor Scholz says Russian energy supplies “essential”

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has rejected calls for immediately ending all energy trading with Russia in response to its invasion of Ukraine. “Europe’s supply of energy for heating, mobility, electricity and industry currently cannot be secured in any other way,” Scholz said in an e-mailed statement from the government. The head of Germany’s government said the exempting energy trading from the current slew of sanctions was a “conscious” decision by European governments, as these imports “are of essential importance for the everyday life of our citizens.”

Biogas could “immediately” replace 5 percent of Germany’s Russian gas imports – industry

Biogas plants could “immediately” replace up to five percent of Russian gas imports to Germany with renewable energy, Horst Seide, head of the national Biogas association, has said in an article by news agency dpa carried by Der Spiegel. A prerequisite would be to remove the current support cap on biogas plant support in Germany’s Renewable Energy Act (EEG), which Seide called “out of date.” Europe-wide, about 35 billion cubic metres of biogas could be produced by 2030 and the technology could cover between 30 and 50 percent of Europe’s total gas needs by 2050, the European Biogas Association said.

Pump price for diesel fuel exceeds two euros per litre for first time in Germany

The price at the pump for diesel fuel has exceeded two euros per litre for the first time ever in Germany, according to motoring association ADAC. Partly caused by the increased demand for heating oil, the average price for a litre of diesel climbed to 2.032 euros, whereas E10 premium gasoline cost 2.008 euros. Since the outbreak of Russia’s war in Ukraine on 24 February, diesel prices have spiked by 33 cents, the organisation said, whereas prices for E10 climbed by 22 cents. ADAC’s Jürgen Albrecht told newspaper Der Spiegel that house owners would be stocking up on heating oil in expectation of supply bottlenecks and possible shortages in the coming 2022/2023 winter season as  importers are expected to drastically cut deliveries from Russia.

5 - 7 March

Environmental groups urge Germany to present binding plan to end gas use by 2040

Several environmental groups are calling on Germany’s government to quickly present “a binding phase-out path for fossil gas” by 2040 in order to enable the country’s complete decarbonisation and reduce reliance on Russia as a trade partner. Umbrella organisation DNR and others said the “epochal change” triggered by Russian president Vladimir Putin’s attack on Ukraine has “put many things into question and reshuffles priorities.” The war must end as quickly as possible and measures to avert a climate breakdown go hand in hand with this, the groups said. “From a climate as well as a peacemaking policy perspective, ending the dependence on fossil fuel imports must become a priority,” they wrote.

German operators prepare for extending runtime of decommissioned coal plants

German coal power plant operators are making provisions for a runtime extension of decommissioned stations in preparation for possible energy supply disruptions as a result of the war in Ukraine. “We’re inspecting our facilities to remain ready if the government deems such measures necessary,” a spokesperson for energy provider RWE told the newspaper. Besides RWE, operators Vattenfall, EnBW and Steag also confirmed they are reviewing their decommissioning plans.

Govt will fund half of new LNG terminal in alliance with Dutch operator

The planned terminal for liquefied natural gas (LNG) imports in northern Germany will be co-funded with a 50 percent government stake in cooperation with Dutch state-owned energy company Gasunie and German company RWE, the economy and climate ministry (BMWK) has said. Money for the new terminal in Brunsbüttel, which is meant to reduce Germany’s dependence on Russian gas deliveries, will be provided by Germany’s state-owned development bank KfW. The terminal will have a regasification capacity of eight billion cubic metres per year and should be built “as quickly as possible,” the ministry said.

Treasury announces 200 billion-energy transition spending in independence push 

The German government has earmarked about 200 billion euros for investments in decarbonisation and greater independence from imported fossil fuels over the next four years. Finance minister Christian Lindner (FDP) said the funds, which will be disbursed by 2026, will be used to boost the expansion of e-car charging infrastructure, hydrogen production, lower power prices and the construction of more renewable power sources. Lindner called renewable power sources “freedom energies” that can allow Germany a greater degree of energy independence

German industry urges careful handling of pivot away from Russia, rejects longer nuclear plant runtime

Dependence on Russian fuel must be quickly reduced in Germany, even though it is likely to cost the country a considerable “insurance premium” on energy security, says the head of industry lobby group BDI, Siegfried Russwurm. However, Russwurm says energy supplies from Russia should not be cut entirely in the short-term in order to avoid “sanctioning ourselves more than the aggressor.” Russwurm said coal imports could be replaced quickly, whereas the construction of new liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals will take at least three years. He firmly rejected reopening the debate about Germany’s nuclear exit, arguing that “coal is the true elasticity factor.”

Leading politicians warn against full halt to energy trading with Russia

High-ranking German politicians say they reject a full suspension of energy trading with Russia due to a lack of readily available substitutes for imported oil, gas and coal. Finance minister Christian Lindner from the Free Democrats (FDP) says renouncing Russian energy imports would mean that “prices in western Europe and around the world skyrocket due to the expected scarcity.” He warned supply bottlenecks could be expected by next winter “and we would have to discuss very drastic measures in response.” Green foreign minister Annalena Baerbock says that a boycott would need be very well prepared, as it would have to last at least several months. Markus Söder, conservative CSU leader and state premier of economic heavyweight Bavaria, warns an import ban would mean  “it could become very cold and expensive” in Germany. By contrast, Norbert Röttgen, security expert of the conservative CDU, advocated for cutting imports “as much as possible” in a guest article for newspaper Tagesspiegel.

3&4 March

Russian attack on Ukrainian nuclear power stations

Following Russian shelling of a nuclear power station in Ukraine, the German environment ministry  says it is watching the situation closely. The UN nuclear agency IAEA expresses concern over the safety of Ukrainian nuclear plants, and its secretary general Rafael Mariano Grossi calls the situation unprecedented. “For the first time, a military conflict is taking place between the facilities of a large and established nuclear programme." Some German politicians and energy experts had called for letting the country’s three remaining nuclear plants run longer, to make up for a reduced use of gas in power generation (see below).

Germans support steps against Russia even if they endanger energy supply – survey

A majority of Germans support the measures governments are taking against Russia even if they lead to problems with energy supply, a survey by infratest dimap commissioned by public broadcaster ARD has found. Sixty-six percent of respondents said they worry the invasion of Ukraine could result in cuts to Germany’s gas and energy supply. However, more than two thirds (68 percent) of all respondents said they would support measures against Russia “even if it leads to bottlenecks in energy supply,” while 66 percent supported them even if energy prices and costs of living increase. Supporters of the far-right populist Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) are the only group that does not support the measures against Russia if they lead to energy supply issues.

Chancellor Scholz urges former chancellor Schröder to resign from Russian company posts

Both the Social Democrats (SPD) party leadership and German chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) urge former chancellor Gerhard Schröder (SPD) to resign from his positions at Russian state-owned companies. Schröder, who has so far stayed silent about his long-criticised involvement in Russian energy companies Rosneft and Gazprom, as well as the Nord Stream 2 AG, this week saw the resignation of all staff at his Berlin office due to his failure to distance himself from Russian president Vladimir Putin and the Russian companies he works for.

“Don’t use the situation for a false debate on nuclear” – econ & climate minister

After saying earlier this week that all forms of energy that could help secure Germany’s power supply for next winter should be considered “without ideological bias”, including coal and nuclear plants, economy and climate minister Robert Habeck (Green Party) reiterates that he doesn’t believe an extended runtime of Germany’s three nuclear power plants would be a solution. Leaving all options open should not be misused for a false debate, he says. “The possible bottleneck we may face is the winter of 2022-2023, and according to all I know this [nuclear power] will not help us there. For the following winters we will have created alternatives,” he says at a press conference in Berlin.

Econ minister opposes Russian energy embargo

German economy and climate minister Robert Habeck says he is opposed to an energy embargo against Russia due to his country’s high dependency on imported fossil fuels. “That would endanger the social peace in the entire republic” he says. “Those who want to harm Putin, have to save energy,” he adds.

 

2 & 3 March

State premiers call for longer coal and nuclear run times

Dietmar Woidke, SPD state premier of lignite-mining state Brandenburg, says he no longer believes it’s possible to bring forward the 2038 coal phase-out date to 2030. Coal must play a role in the discussion on how Germany will secure a reliable energy supply, Woidke says, echoing similar demands from Saxony’s state premier Michael Kretschmer (CDU) and Rainer Haseloff (CDU) of Saxony-Anhalt. Green economy and climate state secretary Oliver Krischer says “[the coal phase-out] is in eight years' time, by which time we will hopefully be where we want to be with renewable energies." FDP energy expert Lukas Köhler says: “Even if we have to readjust the path, there is currently no reason to abandon this goal” of phasing out coal by 2030. Bavaria’s state premier Markus Söder (Christian Social Democrats) says he would prefer to extend the runtime of nuclear plants rather than using coal-fired plants to secure supply.

Two nuclear plant operators say extended use is possible

Two nuclear plant operators indicate that an extended use of the power stations would be possible if the government demands it and ensurs all the necessary technical, organisational and regulatory framework conditions. Earlier this week, nuclear operators told Clean Energy Wire, they were too far advanced with their shut-down planning, and were lacking both the specialised personnel and the fuel to continue operating the country’s last plants past the end of the year.

IEA advises delay of nuclear plant closures

The International Energy Agency (IEA) advises that “a temporary delay of [four nuclear plant] closures [in the EU], conducted in a way that assures the plants’ safe operation, could cut EU gas demand by almost 1 bcm per month". The IEA's Fatih Birol says "there may be a merit in rivisiting the decision" to shut nuclear plants.

Researchers propose longer coal usage if necessary, say total emissions are capped in EU ETS

A group of Germany-based researchers signed an open letter to politicians proposing that “for the next few years, all available coal and nuclear power plants should be maintained or reactivated.” They say that “under normal circumstances” they would oppose such changes. However, in the case of coal, they also point out that emissions of all coal-fired power plants are capped under the EU emission trading system (EU ETS) so that higher emissions today must be compensated by lower emissions in the future. “As long as the fit-for-55 reform of the EU ETS (especially the tightening of the cap) is not watered down due to the current crisis, the climate policy goals will not be compromised,” they wrote.

German conservative MEP calls for review of EU climate targets

In view of the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine, Christian Democrat (CDU) MEP Dennis Radtke calls for a review of EU climate targets. "We cannot, when we call for the hard cut with Russian gas and coal, pretend that this has no effect on previous climate policy plans," Radtke says.

Green MP demands new risk assessment of nuclear plants in Germany

Safety requirements for European nuclear plants should be reviewed in light of Russia’s war against Ukraine, says Stefan Wenzel, Green Party spokesperson for the environment and nuclear safety. “An attack in a warlike conflict has not been one of the possible scenarios so far. He adds that fighting close to Ukrainian power plants, the threats of Russian president Vladimir Putin and various cyber-attacks on Western critical infrasturcture in recent months “must therefore be taken very seriously – they are a danger.” He adds that it is “irresponsible” if two companies [E.ON and EnBW] now offered to continue operation with reduced safety requirements.

 

1 March

War’s knock-on effects could lead to Germany missing emissions reduction targets

Germany might struggle to keep up with emission reduction targets in the energy sector due to the knock-on effects of Russia’s assault on Ukraine, the German Federation of Energy and Water Industries (BDEW) has said. In an analysis of the war’s implications for Germany’s energy supply security, the BDEW said the industry will “assess all options available in the short, medium and long run to make energy supply more independent and resilient.” This might have “temporary effects on short-term emissions reduction targets,” the lobby group added. The BDEW also said the Russian invasion will cause already high energy prices to increase further, meaning there will be “undeniable consequences” for energy companies’ procurement practices. Even though Germany will remain an energy importer in the future, the “fast and massive expansion of renewable energy sources” is now needed more than ever in order to maximise energy autonomy.

Gazprom says gas flows to Europe via Ukraine to continue as usual

Russia’s state-owned gas company Gazprom said it isn’t planning any reduction of gas volume transport to Europe through pipelines in war-torn Ukraine. According to Russian news agency Interfax, gas flows are not expected in the week after Russian president Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine. Shipments will remain “large” due to the increased demand by European customers as a reaction to the outbreak of war. Ukraine’s gas transmission system operator reported a booking of about 106 million cubic metres for the last day of February.

Vattenfall halts dismantling of major German coal plant as a precaution 

Energy company Vattenfall has halted preparations for dismantling the Moorburg coal plant in Hamburg as a consequence of Russia’s war in Ukraine. The Swedish company said it did not plan to recommission the plant in Germany’s second biggest city unless the government or the national grid agency (BNetzA) ordered it to do so, public broadcaster NDR reported. Suspending the dismantling of the modern hard coal plant would be a precautionary measure to assess the situation and keep options for alternative energy supplies open, as Russian gas deliveries could come to an end in the near future, the company said. If there are no requests to relaunch the plant, dismantling would continue as planned, it added. The Moorburg plant, one of the biggest of its kind in Europe, was opened in 2015 before being spectacularly slated for decommissioning just six years later due to Germany’s coal exit. Vattenfall plans to convert the facility into a hydrogen plant that will operate with synthetic gas produced by renewable power installations.

 

28 February

The outbreak of war in eastern Europe is sending shockwaves through Germany’s political class and is reshaping the energy transition debate, as the country’s most important energy trading partner Russia increasingly turns into a liability to international security. Plans to enable the country’s ambitious energy transition in part with the help of Russian gas may well evaporate if the spiraling conflict severs ties between the EU and Moscow. Read the analysis here.

Push for more renewables & options for coal and nuclear

Well before Russia started to wage war on Ukraine , Germany’s government begun to decide on a wide-ranging renewables reform that should make the country’s power supply almost 100 percent renewable by 2035. In a draft paper seen by Clean Energy Wire, the economy and climate ministry proposes higher renewable capacity targets for 2030, aligning the German clean energy path with the 1.5 degree warming limit. While insisting there would be no taboos when looking into supply security, minister Robert Habeck says that using imported coal for longer or letting existing nuclear plants remain online would likely not be feasible solutions. Habeck said that letting coal plants run longer “means a longer dependence on hard coal from Russia”, while buying coal elsewhere would create a dependency on other countries. Regarding nuclear, the Green Party minister - whose party is in staunch opposition to nuclear energy - said that he wouldn’t “ideologically reject” letting existing plants run longer but that his ministry’s initial examination had shown that “for the winter of 2022/23 nuclear power would not help us”. Preparations for the upcoming shutdowns are so far advanced, he said, that the nuclear power plants can only continue to operate "under the highest safety concerns and possibly with fuel supplies that have not yet been secured".

Germany's gas supply secure for winter and summer - minister

Economy and climate minister Robert Habeck said that Germany’s gas supply was secure for this winter and throughout the summer without Russian gas. But for the coming winter, the procurement strategy had to be extended considerably. “The most important step would be to curb our gas-hunger. We will very soon present a gas-reduction plan, in order to reduce our vulnerability,” he said.

 

27 February

Germany agrees on SWIFT sanctions

Dropping earlier resistance, Germany agrees with its Western allies to oust Russian banks from the SWIFT global payments system. The sanctions agreed by Germany, France, the EU Commission, the US, Great Britain and Canada will also limit the ability of Russia's central bank to support the rouble, a government spokesperson says.

Govt supports two LNG terminals

The German government will push the construction of what would be the country’s first two liquefied natural gas (LNG) import terminals as part of its efforts to secure energy supply in light of Russia’s war against Ukraine, says Chancellor Olaf Scholz in parliament. "We made the decision to quickly build two liquefied natural gas terminals, LNG terminals, in Brunsbüttel and Wilhelmshaven."

 

25 February

Plans to establish strategic coal and gas reserves

Economy and climate minister Robert Habeck says Germany will safely get through this winter even if Russia cuts of energy supplies. In order to prevent future supply shocks and reduce dependence on Russia, the government plans to establish strategic coal and gas reserves. Habeck adds Germany must speed up the expansion of renewables to become more independent of fossil fuel imports, and build terminals for liquefied natural gas (LNG) to diversify supply.

Germany opposes cutting Russia off from SWIFT

Germany opposes Russia's cutoff from SWIFT banking system over concerns this step will impact key energy and raw material imports from Russia. “There is a high risk that Germany will no longer be supplied with gas or raw materials”, says German finance minister Christian Lindner.

 

24 February

Russia attacks Ukraine after president Vladimir Putin declares war in a pre-dawn televised address.

Govt agrees wide-ranging plan to provide financial relief to consumers

In view of skyrocketing energy costs, the German government agrees on a wide-ranging plan to provide financial relief to consumers, including pulling forward the elimination of the renewable energy levy to 1 July – a move that will save electricity users 6.6 billion euros. The 10-point plan, which still has to be approved by the parliament, also includes a higher commuter allowance and additional support for recipients of welfare and unemployment benefits.

 

23 February

Germany puts Nord Stream 2 on hold

Germany puts the contentious Nord Stream 2 pipeline project on hold by halting the certification process for the already completed direct gas link between Germany and Russia. Asked about whether the pipeline would ever start operations, chancellor Olaf Scholz says no one could make a prediction at this moment, and "nobody should bet on it." Many German politicians, business associations, and environmental NGOs welcome the decision. [See our Q&A: What does Germany's decision to put Nord Stream 2 on hold mean?]

 

21 February

High prices endanger industrial companies

Almost one quarter of German small and medium-sized industrial companies say the high energy prices endanger their survival, according to a survey by the Federation of German Industries (BDI). “Rising electricity and gas prices are threatening to crush the economy,” said BDI President Siegfried Russwurm. The situation is already forcing companies to save on climate neutrality plans, the lobby group said.

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