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Germany’s plan to cut energy dependence on Russia

Among the big EU, Germany is among the countries with the most energy dependence on Russia

(Sustainabilityenvironment.com) – Germany will say (almost) goodbye to Russian coal and oil by the end of this year. While for gas the goal is 2024. This was confirmed this morning by the Minister of Ecological Transition and Economy Robert Habeck presenting a report on national energy security. That since February 24, the day the invasion of Ukraine began, revolves around just one theme: how to zero – or reduce much – energy dependence on Russia.

German times to say goodbye to energy dependence on Russia

Berlin does not want to impose sanctions on the energy sector. But it wants to show that it does its homework. Also to maintain good relations with Poland and the Baltic countries. Instead, they push to immediately close taps and contracts and take away from Putin a convenient flow of money. Value: at least 1 billion euros per day with current prices of barrel and MWh. “Companies are letting their contracts with Russian suppliers expire, not renewing them and switching to other suppliers at a crazy pace,” Habeck assured.

Contracts that are not few. Germany is one of the European countries most linked to the hydrocarbons of Moscow. The figures of its energy dependence on Russia speak for themselves: from them Berlin imports 55% of fossil gas, 52% of anthracite and 34% of oil. That is why Habeck and the new chancellor Olaf Scholz are still adamant about extending sanctions to fossil fuels. Putting a total European embargo on energy from Russia means economic recession in Europe, hundreds of thousands of jobs in danger and entire industrial sectors at risk, argued the successor to Angela Merkel two days ago. So: Brussels must choose a gradual approach. Masochism will not save the Union.

In the meantime, the German Government is trying to reduce its energy dependence on Russia as soon as possible. There would be good prospects for oil. Habeck argues that the non-renewal of contracts is having a cumulative effect and already within a few weeks Berlin’s exposure to Russian crude oil will fall to 25%. By the summer it should then halve further. And by December it will get to zero or almost.

Coal, independence could arrive already in autumn

On coal there is also more optimism. Independence from Moscow should arrive already in the autumn. Thanks to the German lignite mines able to cover 100% of the needs and a global market much more flexible and “wide” than that of gas, which makes life easier for German officials who must quickly invent a way to diversify import.

As for gas, the main obstacle to cutting energy dependence on Russia is infrastructure. Germany receives all the gas via pipeline and does not even have an LNG terminal active at the moment. Like Italy, also Berlin is considering resorting to offshore floating terminals, which can come into operation in a very short time. Three options are under consideration at the moment. Meanwhile, the government is accelerating the construction of three onshore regasification plants. But they take much longer. The goal is to get to the end of 2022 with Russian gas imports cut by 30%. Not only by diversifying the import, however: the government has announced that it is willing to delay the switch-off of some coal-fired power plants in order to reduce the share of gas from Moscow. But Berlin assures that the phase-out to 2030 is not in question.

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