Coal and oil "on call": government provides for possible gas shortages

Russia has already stopped supplying gas to several countries.

Coal and oil "on call": government provides for possible gas shortages

Russia has already stopped supplying gas to several countries. The government is now deciding on precautionary measures in the event of a delivery stop to Germany. In this way, more coal-fired power plants could be used again - but this does not endanger the planned phase-out of coal by 2030.

The federal government has initiated further precautionary measures in the event of a gas shortage, such as could result from a Russian gas supply freeze. The cabinet in Berlin approved a corresponding formulation aid for a so-called replacement power plant availability law, as announced by the Federal Ministry of Economics. The next step is for the Bundestag to deal with the project.

According to the Ministry of Economic Affairs, the draft law aims to enable Germany to significantly reduce gas consumption in electricity generation in the event of a gas shortage. Last year, around 15 percent of the total amount of electricity fed into Germany came from gas-fired power plants; according to the Federal Statistical Office, it was 13 percent in the first quarter of 2022.

In the event of a gas shortage, on the one hand, coal or oil-fired power plants are to step in for a limited period until March 31, 2024. According to the ministry, they should “be able to return to the market at short notice and on demand”. However, this call is only made "if there is a gas shortage or there is a threat of it".

In the reserve, the power plants are "ready for operation, but not active on the electricity market, so that no additional CO2 emissions are generated," as the Ministry of Economics and Climate Minister Robert Habeck emphasized. The primary goal of completing the phase-out of coal in Germany by 2030 remains "untouched".

On the other hand, the law is intended to enable the federal government to "reduce the use of gas-fired power plants very quickly and for a maximum of six months in the event of a crisis" by means of an ordinance authorization. However, it should be taken into account that some power plants provide not only electricity but also heat.

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