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A Temporary Crunch

Olaf Scholz expects Germany's energy supply problems to be solved by the end of 2023

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said recently he expects Germany’s gas supply difficulties following the reduction in Russian gas supplies to end by the end of 2023. The first liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals on German shores will start operating at the beginning of next year, he said during a meeting with citizens on the occasion of the Chancellery’s open day in Berlin, with the rest to follow later in the year.

“If we achieve this, our energy security problem will be solved by the end of the year. It will still cost us dearly, but the question of how we will achieve it will no longer be asked,” he said.

Alongside the construction of terminals to import LNG by ship, the other measure undertaken by the government has been the storage of gas, as existing storage facilities in Germany, some of them owned by Russia’s state-owned Gazprom, were sometimes not filled. Operators are now obliged by law to ensure that at certain dates, the storage tanks are filled to a certain percentage of their capacity and reach 95% before the onset of winter.

Nuclear Power

When asked about the possibility of extending the life of the three nuclear reactors still in operation in Germany, which are due to be shut down on 31 December, Scholz urged waiting for the results of the stress tests of the electricity system. The study, which will also take into account “worst-case scenarios”, will be ready by the end of this month or early September, and a decision can then be made, said the Chancellor.

“Even if we decide that we have to keep them running in order not to have problems in winter, it will only be a small contribution,” Scholz explained, saying this is because reactors only produce electricity and for very specific niche markets.” But sometimes even a tiny contribution is important,” he said.

He also pointed out that the fact that nuclear power “is not a good idea in general” is demonstrated by the case of France, where, he said, many reactors no longer work because of technical problems. He added that in other parts of the world new power plants are being built, which nevertheless cost more than 10 billion EUR, so the electricity generated has higher prices than that produced from renewable energies.

The chancellor, therefore, called for other technologies, such as biogas, to produce cheap and sustainable electricity, and said that “this is the path that Germany has taken”.