Germany says it will restart coal-fired power plants to save natural gas

BERLIN – Germany will restart coal-fired power plants to save natural gas, the country’s economy minister said on Sunday amid fears of a shortage of supplies after Russia cut off gas supplies to Europe this week.

The move was part of a series of measures, including new incentives for companies to burn less natural gas announced by Germany as Europe takes steps to tackle reduced energy supplies from Russia.

Since European countries imposed sanctions to punish Moscow following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, Russia has responded by suspension of gas supplies to several European countries. Last week, the Russian energy giant Gazprom has also reduced flows through the Nord Stream important underwater connection that transports gas directly to Germany.

Gazprom blamed problems with support for the cuts, but European leaders called the move a political tactic by President Vladimir. Vladimir Putin from Russia.

“The situation is serious,” said Robert Habeck, Germany’s economy minister and vice chancellor, in a statement on Sunday, outlining steps that will be taken to ensure more gas is available for diversion to storage facilities. that the country has enough to get through the winter. These include online returns coal-fired power plants which have been reduced in order to reduce carbon emissions, although the statement does not specify how many plants will be affected.

“It’s bitter, but in this situation it’s just necessary to reduce gas consumption,” he said. Habek, a member of the environmental Green Party. “Gas storage reserves must be full by winter. That is our top priority. “

Germany has relied heavily on energy imports from Russia for decades. Last year, Russian imports accounted for 55 percent of the country’s natural gas supplies. But after the Moscow feb. On the 24th invasion of Ukraine, Berlin began buying gas from Norway, the United States and the United Arab Emirates, cutting its purchases from Russia by about 20 percent.

However, the government has insisted that Russian gas will be needed to ensure that storage tanks are at least 90 percent full by November – under a law passed earlier this year to ensure a sufficient supply of natural gas, which used mainly for heating and production. One third of homes in Germany are heated by natural gas, while it is used for only about 15 percent of all electricity production.

A law expected to return to the use of coal in electricity generation is expected next month. By the end of the summer, a model should be introduced that will allow companies to trade in gas as part of efforts to encourage Germany’s industrial sector to reduce its dependence on fuel.

Last week, Germany’s powerful industrial lobby, the Federation of German Industry, said companies were already switching to coal as part of efforts to make more natural gas available for storage. Many are also looking for alternative, more sustainable energy sources, he said, stressing that such transitions take time.

The German government recently called on citizens to reduce energy consumption in light of the tense supply situation.

“Obviously Putin’s strategy is to make us insecure, raise prices and divide us.” said Habek. “We will not allow this to happen. We will defend ourselves decisively, accurately and thoughtfully. “

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