Berlin (dpa) – Federal Economy Minister Robert Habeck wants to continue arming Germany for a possible interruption in Russian gas supplies and to increase the number of coal-fired power plants in reserve.
In the event of a gas shortage or a threat, gas consumption in the energy sector should be significantly reduced, as reported by the Federal Ministry of Economy on Tuesday. The relevant bill is discussed in the federal government. If he had passed through the government, the Bundestag would have to agree.
When the reserve is used
Decommissioned coal power plants should start producing electricity if there is a risk of gas shortage in Germany or if there is already too little gas. Part of the mineral oil power plant is also to become part of the reserve. According to the plans, Habeck should be able to decide to use the reserve in agreement with some of his ministerial colleagues. The proposed changes to the law should give him such an opportunity.
What does reserve mean
Participation in the reserve is compulsory for power plants classified as systemically important by the Federal Network Agency. As a reserve, coal-fired power plants must be maintained in a condition that enables them to function on a permanent basis in the electricity market. Any costs incurred for this will be reimbursed. Operators also need to have enough fuel on hand.
In case of bottlenecks, operators should not go back to producing electricity – but given the high prices, it should pay off for them. There is no longer any financial support for them.
And brown coal?
Unlike hard coal, lignite is not imported, but mined in Germany. Closed lignite-fired power plants are in what is known as safety readiness, so that they can also help in the event of bottlenecks. To make it work faster, they have to be moved to a new supply reserve. As in the case of Habeck’s hard coal, the decision will be made after consulting with colleagues.
The role of gas in the German energy sector
According to the ministry, last year gas contributed to the production of electricity in Germany by approx. 15 percent. In the meantime, however, this percentage is likely to be lower.
Operation of gas power plants should become less attractive
In an emergency, the use of gas power plants to generate electricity should be subject to the so-called punishes for a period of six months, which, according to the ministry, would make exploitation unprofitable. The operators would then have to pay the state. Habeck would also decide if this would happen, after consulting other ministers.
Installations that simultaneously generate heat and electricity or mechanical energy from gas (combined heat and power) should be allowed to continue operation if there is no alternative to heat generation.
Regulations with an expiry date
In terms of climate protection, Germany wants to end coal energy in the near future. This is how it will remain, according to the draft law: “The goal of a perfect end to the decommissioning of coal by 2030, as well as the climate goals, remains intact.” The regulations on short-term commissioning of coal-fired power plants are intended to serve as a bridge in time for Germany to at least largely break away from Russian gas imports.
Regulations regarding the possible use of coal-fired power plants for electricity generation are limited to March 31, 2024. According to earlier information from the ministry, by the summer of 2024 the share of Russian gas may be gradually reduced to 10%. consumption in Germany. In mid-April, it was 35 percent.
The Union of Municipal Companies (VKU) generally welcomed the fact that the federal government continued to prepare Germany for the eventual suspension of gas supplies. “From the point of view of the utility company, it is particularly important to limit the limitation of gas generation to an absolute shortage, to clearly define and not to expose heat generation in the CHP plant,” emphasized the CEO of VKU. Ingbert Liebing.
The principle that the operation of gas-fired power plants may be temporarily more expensive is met with skepticism in the energy sector. “In the event of a gas shortage, gas prices will increase sharply and will not have to be raised by the state,” explained the board of the trade association Zukunft Gas. “This is the wrong approach to punish something that will still be needed in the future: generating electricity from gas-fired power plants will have to mitigate in the long term the urgently needed expansion of renewables.”
The Federal Association of the Energy and Water Industry (BDEW), like Zukunft Gas, welcomes the fact that precautionary measures must be taken, but is very skeptical of the temporary increase in electricity prices in gas-fired power plants: “This would significantly violate the fundamental rights of those involved. enterprises, which in the opinion of BDEW would be disproportionate and unjustified. “
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