Germany will have to replace 450 billion kilowatt hours of Russian natural gas in the future. A large part of this urgently needed replacement energy lies dormant in our waste. But this simple solution to the problem seems to miss the traffic light.

The gap between rich and poor is widening. This social inequality is also becoming a problem in Germany and is causing tension. But political measures could ensure more justice – at least in the long term.

The Federal Network Agency reports that the gas storage facilities are almost full to the brim. Norway and Holland are increasingly supplying natural gas to their EU customers – at ridiculously high prices, but they deliver. The EU is also supplied with natural gas from Azerbaijan via Bulgaria and Italy.

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And in the near future also via new LNG terminals on the German coast. And Gazprom – as paradoxical as that may sound – continues to send natural gas to the EU via Ukraine.

So the warm living room at home seems safe for the winter. The traffic light also gave the green light to extend the life of the three remaining nuclear power plants until spring.

Bottlenecks in electricity also seem to be ruled out. Time, then, to deal with the gas supply of the somewhat more distant future.

dr Eric Schweitzer is the owner and CEO of the Berlin ALBA Group, one of the leading environmental service providers and suppliers of raw materials in Europe with an annual turnover of around 1.3 billion euros and 5400 employees. ALBA is also the name sponsor of the current German basketball champions. Schweitzer was President of the Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce (DIHK) from 2013 to 2021 and has been Honorary President of the DIHK and the IHK Berlin since 2021.

So far, Germany has consumed around 1,000 terawatt hours of natural gas every year, covering more than 20 percent of its energy consumption – primarily in the energy sector for heat, but also for electricity generation.

In 2021, around 90 percent of this was imported. And about half of that comes from Russia – about 450 terawatt hours, or 450 billion kilowatt hours.

gas from waste? It’s hardly cheaper. And with an offensive in biogas from waste, the traffic light government with its green climate protection and environment ministries could also elegantly avoid two political cliffs:

And the consistent recycling of waste also has a major advantage for climate protection. Up to now organic waste has been composted far too often without being treated. In this way, methane can enter the atmosphere unhindered and, according to the UN, increases the greenhouse effect by a factor of 25 compared to carbon dioxide.

The increased use of biogas will also improve the separation of organic waste. Better organic waste collection prevents high-energy organic waste from ending up in the black bin and being irretrievably and inefficiently lost in the waste incineration plant.

According to the Federal Environment Agency, two-thirds of the reusable raw materials die in the residual waste bin. Almost half of it is valuable organic waste. On the one hand, many districts and municipalities still lack organic waste bins, on the other hand, tenants and homeowners need more information.

According to a Civey survey commissioned by ALBA, only around 64 percent of Germans separate their organic waste. Awareness of resource conservation, energy efficiency and circular economy is not yet fully developed in Germany’s households.

However, the federal government is only a small step further: In the “Key points for a national biomass strategy” published at the beginning of October, the three ministries involved for the environment, agriculture and climate protection warn that when generating energy from biomass “a focus on the use of waste and residual materials”.

But it remains a mystery why nine months after the start of the Ukraine war there are only “cornerstones” for the urgently needed biomass and biogas strategy. The traffic light has to step on the gas as quickly as possible in the truest sense of the word.