June 24, 2022

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GERMANY/ Houses are pictured in front of the coal power plant of German utility RWE Power near Niederaussem

Germany burns coal to counter Russian gas crisis – NRK Norway – News overview from different parts of the country

On Wednesday last week, Russian energy company Gazprom reduced its supply of gas through the Nord Stream pipeline by about 65 percent.

Nord Stream is one of the most important pipelines for importing gas to Europe.

France, Germany, Italy, Austria and Slovakia were all hit hard.

And the German authorities announced, on Sunday, that they had taken emergency measures.

It’s bitter, but we must use more coal power plants in a transitional period to store as much gas as possible, Trade and Industry Secretary Robert Habeck tells Bloomberg.

Coal is one of the most polluting energy sources used.

In Lubmin, Germany receives gas from Russia via the Nord Stream pipeline.

Photo: Hannibal Hanschke/Reuters

Russia is my country pressing Europe

According to the Russian government, the reduction at Nord Stream is due to technical challenges, as they are not getting new equipment due to Western sanctions.

On the other hand, Germany sees the reduction as politically motivated and believes that it is based on increased European support for Ukraine.

This week, heads of state from France, Germany, Italy and Romania are all in Ukraine to offer their support for the country.

The gathering was probably the highest visit to Kif since Russia invaded Ukraine.

On Friday, Ukraine also received official status as a candidate country for EU membership.

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Heads of state from France, Germany, Italy and Romania visited Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv this week.

Photo: Ludovic Marin/Reuters

Consumed in stock

At the same time, the gas flow through Nord Stream decreased sharply.

Despite Norway exporting gas to Europe in heavy demand, European countries had to consume gas stocks this week, according to Bloomberg. This is the first time the storage level has decreased since April this year.

Many countries in Europe typically use the summer months to store gas for the winter season, says Rystad gas analyst, Sindre Knutsson.

– This is not normal, he says.

German stockpiling was on track to rise on Sunday.

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Astoria in Germany is the largest gas storage facility in Europe. Here, Germany usually stores large quantities of gas for the winter months.

Photo: Fabian Beimer/Reuters

Coal market is already under pressure

Germany is not alone in having to rely more on coal amidst the uncertainty.

From the Central European Union and the United Kingdom, there have been earlier reports that coal-fired power plants may have to start.

Since the new year, the price of coal has risen by about 250 percent.


In addition to the climate consequences of increased coal burning, there is also the question of whether there are adequate supplies of coal at present.

Knutson says that while Europe is trying to secure more liquefied gas, so-called liquefied natural gas, several countries in Asia have gone back to using coal, thus securing much of the coal supply.

Evonik Steag's coal-fired power plant in Berkamen, Germany has to close because they can't get coal.

Several coal-fired power plants such as this one can be started in Bergkamen in Germany.

Photo: imageBROKER / Hans Blossey / imageBROKER

So the most important measure may be to reduce demand, he says.

This could mean legalization and industry shutdown.

If all gas flow through Nord Stream stops, Europe will be able to run out of gas already completely in January, according to financial group Wood Mackenzie. Bloomberg.

Industry is as thin as one has to cut. It will have a direct impact on the European economy, says Knutson.

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Perhaps it is the industry that must shut down if Europe is struggling to cover its energy supplies. Here is one of the largest steel mills in Europe in Duisburg in Germany.

Photo: INA FASSBENDER/Reuters

The Millennium Development Goals: – A big dilemma

In Germany, the Dei Grøne party is now in government. The leader of their sister party in Norway, Une Bastholm (MDG), told NRK she believes it is painful for a green party to have to increase coal consumption.

Supporting tags for Ukraine

Millennium Development Goal Leader Une Bastholm

Photo: Beate Oma Dahle / NTB

– Yes it is. It’s a huge dilemma, says Basholm, not just for green parties in Europe, but for everyone who has committed to lowering the climate.

However, she understands why the German government is taking drastic measures.

– When you have an energy crisis in Europe, and you can’t adapt to Putin’s aggression, you have to increase the use of coal in between, says Pastolm.

At the same time, she thinks things don’t look bleak in the long run.

The big story is that the Russian invasion accelerated the green turn. For example, Germany has set its sights on large-scale investment in renewable energy and energy saving. Both to cut emissions but also to free itself of Putin’s energy.

By 2035, Germany aims to use electricity only from renewable sources. Basholm believes it should have a greater place in the Norwegian political debate.

One thing is to increase gas production in the short term, something that the Millennium Development Goals also support. But in 10 to 20 years, the picture is that countries want to get rid of fossil energy. Thus, today’s crisis is not an excuse to search for new oil and gas fields on the Norwegian shelf.

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