Despite mid-summer temperatures, Klaus Müller, head of the Federal Network Agency, never tires of talking about the coming winter. He knows that he is a “party killer”. But he is already prophesying that in the coming heating season we will hear about many terrible individual fates of people who can no longer pay their bills due to the high gas prices.
Müller appealed to people to use the summer to prepare for the heating season, which begins in three months. For example, every second gas boiler in Germany is incorrectly set and thus works inefficiently and is harmful to the climate.
Müller also sharply criticized the German energy policy of recent years. It is “difficult to understand” that the country in Europe, which next to Italy is most heavily dependent on gas and gas imports and has built its prosperity on inexpensive fossil gas, has “not in any way” thought about its security of supply. Unlike oil or coal, gas is dependent on the pipeline networks.
Gas storage facilities were “cheerfully” sold to Russian owners and made “extremely” dependent on Nord Stream 1. In this context, he does not want to talk about Nord Stream 2 and the lack of liquid gas terminals. The fact that gas-fired power plants now have to be replaced by coal-fired power plants is not good in terms of climate policy, but there is currently no alternative.
On Tuesday, Müller sat on the podium at the Berlin specialist congress for “defensive democracy” on the subject of “supply security: prosperity and values on the brink?”. Wolfgang Bosbach (CDU), Susanne Mittag (SPD) and Bernhard Krüsken from the German Farmers’ Association discussed the current gas crisis with him.
Despite greatly reduced deliveries from Russia, Germany’s gas storage facilities have recently become somewhat full again. As emerged from the website of Europe’s gas infrastructure operator (GIE) on Monday evening, the storage facilities were 60.26 percent full.
Müller said that was about eight percentage points better than last year. But that is also because the past year was one of the worst in German gas storage history. Given the current developments, that is not good enough.
The federal government’s goal is to fill the storage tanks by at least 90 percent by the beginning of November. It is questionable whether this will succeed in view of the restricted deliveries and the threat of a complete stop to gas from Russia.
Gas storage compensates for fluctuations in gas consumption. As a kind of buffer system, they are important for the energy market. However, their importance is limited. Because even if the gas storage tanks were completely filled, their quantities would by no means be sufficient for the entire heating period.
According to estimates by the Federal Network Agency, the gas storage facilities would only last two and a half months in an average winter to cover demand even without Russian gas. Germany is therefore desperately looking for other import options, such as liquid gas deliveries via floating terminals on the North Sea coast.
The federal government has chartered four of them. Müller expects that two of the four terminals can be landed on the North Sea coast this winter. Work is currently being done to ensure that these terminals can be connected to the German gas network at “Tesla speed”.
Müller expects that there will be a new north-south divide in Germany in the future. In the future, gas will come from Norway via Holland and Belgium. Müller said that he is currently having many “tense” discussions with politicians and industrial companies from Baden-Württemberg, Hesse, Bavaria and Saxony. “Because gas is a raw material that flows. It is not available everywhere at all times,” explained Müller.
This is nothing less than a “fundamental reversal” of the flow of raw materials in Germany, which will lead to very intensive debates. Something is changing for some, including those who “have been very splayed and self-confident in recent years because they lived in a very favorable geographical location”.
Müller also announced that the Federal Network Agency wants to let as much market rule as possible. The industry still knows best where it uses gas or not.