Germany in the past weeks has greatly reduced its dependency on Russian energy imports, but must speed up its Energiewende – the transition from nuclear and fossil to renewable energy – to achieve energy security, economics and climate minister Robert Habeck said.
Habeck, who is also the country’s vice chancellor, in a progress report on energy security following EU efforts to wean itself off Russian energy supplies in the wake of the attack on Ukraine said the dependency on oil from Russia had already fallen from 35% to 12%, that of hard coal from over 50% to about 8%, and of fossil gas from 55% to 35%.
“All these steps we are taking require an enormous joint effort from all actors and they also mean costs that are felt by both the economy and consumers. But they are necessary if we no longer want to be open to blackmail from Russia,” Habeck said.
“And we must always think of all these steps in connection with more speed in the expansion of renewable energies and more progress in saving energy.
“An accelerated Energiewende is essential for a cheap, independent and secure energy supply in the future.”
Given the progress already made, Germany now also supports an EU-wide ban on Russian oil imports, Habeck said, but had to acknowledge that getting rid of all Russian gas imports could take until the summer of 2024.
The government now plans to facilitate the speedy construction of four floating terminals to re-gasify liquefied natural gas (LNG) as a temporary measure, and pushes wide-ranging legislation through parliament to boost the country’s share of renewable power to 80% by 2030 (from 42% last year), and nearly 100% by 2035.
To kick-start the previously lacklustre expansion in particular of onshore wind, Berlin as part of its so-called ‘Easter Package’ of measures announced in early April had said it will anchor a new principle in the country’s constitution that the use of renewable energies is in the “overriding public interest” and serves public safety.
Habeck expects the priority stipulation will greatly reduce the possibility for court challenges.
The government also targets new heating systems to be run by renewables to two thirds from 2024 onwards, and will subsidise the replacement of gas- and oil-fired heating systems.
No to price freezes
Five European energy associations - among the SolarPower Europe and WindEurope - meanwhile sent a letter to the European Commission asking decision makers to avoid harmful short-term interventionist measures in energy markets.
Measures put forward by some southern EU member states aim to establish energy price freezes, which according to the green groups could slow down the shift away from fossil fuels.
“Following Gazprom’s decision to stop supplying gas to two EU member states [Poland and Bulgaria], it is clear that the only way out of the energy crisis is to massively deploy alternative, renewable, energies," said SolarPower Europe chief executive Walburga Hemetsberger.
"More than ever, we need clear and stable market signals to accelerate the investment volumes into the energy infrastructure we need.
"With other measures on the table, interfering in electricity market pricing is unnecessary, and would send long-lasting detrimental signals around renewable investment."