Baltic Pipeline Keep Gas in Our Energy Mix

The new pipeline through the Baltic Sea is important for the security of supply, writes North Rhine-Westphalia minister Garrelt Duin.
The pipes, the pipes – the first spare pipes for the Nord-Stream Baltic Sea pipeline are stored on shore in Lubmin, Germany.

Green Party politician Jürgen Trittin first went for coal. Now he is after our gas.

This is immensely dangerous for Germany. As he wrote on these pages last month, he wants no investment in any fossil fuel industry, and invokes climate change for his arguments. He speaks out against the planned Nord Stream 2 pipeline through the Baltic Sea, but he is aiming for the whole natural gas industry.

And he wants to bet everything on renewable energy.

Electricity and heat are still a matter of physics and not miracles. And the natural resources under the earth are not dependent on the political systems on the ground above them.

The western German state of North Rhine-Westphalia could replace the Netherlands as the Western European energy hub, because natural gas is dwindling there.

Mr. Trittin dreams of losing nuclear power and gas and coal. But his dreams are illusions. This is what the reality looks like: Wind and solar are bringing more and more electricity into the grid. That's a good thing. But it's only one side of the coin.

We want the Energiewende,  Germany's transition away from nuclear power and toward renewable energy, to succeed. We have ambitious national climate protection goals to make it a reality. They are compatible with the agreements reached at the 2015 Paris climate conference, and they do not require stricter national approaches.

But this is a long-term project. It requires a sense of proportion and staying power. The energy policy triangle, with its three equal sides – safe, affordable, sustainable –, remains the irrevocable standard. The political world should not give precedence to ecology. That would undermine economic and social stability. The trick is to carefully guide our energy economy, with its high-quality jobs, into the new era without causing structural upheavals. 

It is also a question of arithmetic. Citing the computed excess capacity of German power plants doesn't get us any further. The last nuclear power plant will be unplugged by 2022 at the latest. At that point, the excess capacity we supposedly have today could reverse and become a lack of capacity – because no energy providers are investing in unprofitable power plants today, neither new plants nor existing ones.

 

wrong - production should be consumption

 

The consequence is that by 2022, guaranteed output will decline by about a fifth of the amount needed in Germany. This is no problem for Mr. Trittin, who proposes we rely on imported electricity – which will then come from risky nuclear power plants in Thiange, Belgium and Cattenom in France.

We must take great pains to ensure that electricity is available around the clock and remains affordable. We can only achieve this goal with a healthy energy mix, of which environmentally friendly natural gas – from multiple sources – is an essential component. This is why the new pipeline through the Baltic Sea, which will pump natural gas from Russia to Germany, is important. This is precisely the way can grow our independence, to which brown coal and gas caverns also contribute.

The European Union is working on a liquid gas strategy. Liquid gas plays a growing role worldwide, and it presents opportunities.

The western German state of North Rhine-Westphalia  could replace the Netherlands as the Western European energy hub, because natural gas is dwindling there. Gas from Russia, liquid gas and large gas storage facilities – these are all good prospects. If the Dutch no longer produce natural gas, the trade will shift. Why not North Rhine-Westphalia? The large consumers are in the state and in southern Germany.

 

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